Text Etiquette

by Dr. Charles Sophy

Filed Under: Text Etiquette

  • A cross the globe, communication mandates certain rules and etiquette, and whether by spoken word, body language, or subtle glances, the way we communicate can be considered either appropriate or offensive.

  • Various methods of greeting such as a handshake, or bowing in respect are apparent, but standards of manners and etiquette are also important in our everyday lives - particularly, in how we text.

    SMS text messaging (SMS is an acronym for "Short Message Service") is the most widely used data application in the world, with 2.4 billion active users.

  • With so many people textin, it's crucial for us to understand this medium and its etiquette

  • DYK? The Language of Texting

    First and foremost, we need to understand the language of texting. Inherently, texting is an efficient and speedy mode of communication. This premise has evolved into a labyrinth of abbreviations and codes that can make a texting conversation among teens look like an entirely foreign language.

    As a parent trying to understand the etiquette of texting and how it applies to your child’s behavior, it is critical to decipher these codes. Initially, you can visit www.LGDTXTR.com for a complete glossary of texting terms and educate yourselves because the power is in the knowledge.

  • Parents should know terms like PAL (Parents are listening), 420 (Let's get high), A3 (Anyplace, anywhere, anytime), FF (Friends forever), and NN (Not now). Knowing, helps us understand what our kids are talking about, especially if their conversations involve sexting or are with someone inappropriate. When parents understand the language of texting, their children realize that they can't get away with sneaky and possibly dangerous behavior. In addition to enforcing rules and taking safety precautions, parents are considered "cool" and respect is gained if mom and dad know what "DYK" means. (It means Do You Know)

  • Aside from the actual abbreviations and codes, it is also important to be cognizant of formatting and style when texting. For example, all caps can be interpreted as rude or as SCREAMING (see what I mean?). Take note of the time of day when texts are sent. If they are being sent very early in the morning or late at night, it can imply a more intimate relationship, and should be a point of attention especially if the sender or recipient is inappropriate.

  • Be Safe and Know the Law

    Text and mobile phone messages can include various multimedia elements, including photos, videos, and instant messaging. The nature of communication between children can reach new levels of intimacy, and with this enhanced functionality, comes greater responsibility.

    An extremely serious problem referred to as sexting is becoming more prevalent amid teens across the country. Pictures of nude or semi-nude children can be constituted as child pornography, even if the message is sent in jest among close friends.

  • If you, as a parent, observe potentially illegal behavior, you may have a responsibility to notify the police or other law enforcement authorities

  • Situations such as these, can lead to legal disasters and serious ramifications for your family. As I had mentioned in another article on this site, teens in Alabama, New York, and Wisconsin have been arrested, are facing or have been convicted, on criminal charges in relation to sexting. Now more than ever, we need to understand the legal implications of texting.

  • Bullying and peer pressure are also common negative behaviors associated with texting. Acceptable text etiquette eliminates threats, cruel insults, or other malicious and hurtful messages. Photos or videos that are sent to larger groups of kids with the intention of humiliating a specific target are not only a means of bullying and harassment, but in some cases against the law. If you notice that your child is the victim, perpetrator, or third party witness of bullying behavior then understanding the etiquette surrounding the situation be essential in formulating a solution.

    Parents should know their children's cell phone passwords and lock codes. If you notice content that you do not want your child to view then you have the right and responsibility to lock down their phones.

  • Children See, Children Do

    With almost all behaviors, children will take cues from their parents. Our children will mimic what we do, for better or for worse. In regards to texting, we need to emulate the proper etiquette that we want our children to embrace because parenting begins with you, in all facets.

    A few basic rules can help establish a strong foundation of texting behavior. If you set rules for yourself and follow them, it will allow you to enforce them with your child. Some restrictions may be the following: Do not text while walking or driving, don't be rude or use ALL CAPS inappropriately in text messages, and do not text during off hours, like dinner time, designated family time, or late at night. By modeling the behavior we desire from our children, we can eliminate double standards and send clear messages. Otherwise, we can open the doors of hypocrisy and create more disciplinary challenges when we try to reprimand the abuse of texting privileges. Because the bottom line is that texting is indeed a privilege and can easily be restricted from their phones altogether.

    Let your children know to carefully consider their texts before sending them. Teenagers by nature can be impetuous, so encouraging them to think before sending a communication they may later regret, can save them possible embarrassment, difficulty and even danger somewhere down the line. (See the LG "Give it a Ponder" campaign to learn more: www.giveitaponder.com.)

  • More Than Manners

    Aside from merely adhering to the rules of text etiquette, the means in which we engage in texting demonstrates the way in which we treat other people. If we teach our children that their texts should reflect respect, integrity, and common courtesy, the lessons they learn will spill over into their other behaviors. Texting is just one of multiple modes in which we reach out to the world. When we apply basic etiquette and responsibility to each of these modes of communication, we create a healthier interpersonal environment that fosters better relationships. In the language of texting, TISC (This is so cool).

Filed Under: Text Etiquette


Charles Sophy

Dr. Charles SophyAs a psychiatrist specializing in Adult, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Family Practice, Dr. Sophy currently serves as the Medical Director for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

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