Written by Dan Istvanik
Their heads are down as they quickly move their fingers across the phone screen. It is a blur of taps and swipes with an occasional sound of dings, rings, and blings.
Their faces are all aglow but not like the little angels you used to tuck into bed. Your tween/teen has a cellphone, and they are TEXTING!
Non-stop around the clock, they walk, eat, drive, and yes, even go to the bathroom (EWW!).
What is the deal!?
What are parents supposed to do?
We text our adult friends and use this wonderful convenience to skip over the old-fashioned phone call.
Honestly, who really uses their phone to call anyone anymore? Still, this is different somehow.
Your child is on their phone all the time and then… there are all those code words and symbols. It has gone way beyond the ‘LOL’ and ‘BTW.’
Suddenly you see vegetables, numbers and odd words that do not exist in a dictionary. I know how you feel because I have literally looked them up to no avail.
This is why we created the Parent’s Guide to Texting just for you!
- Texting is the number one way teens communicate. They use it more than face-to-face conversations and even more than social media apps.
- 35% of people 12-17 say texting is their favorite way to communicate with friends.
- Only 32% of people 12-17 prefer in-person conversations.
- Girls prefer texting more than boys.
- 20% of girls will choose to text a friend vs. 12% of boys.
- 8 out of 10 tween/teens text daily.
- 97% of smartphone owners text regularly.
- Americans of all ages send 26 billion texts every single day.
- American teens send and receive an average of almost 70 texts per day.
- The average smartphone user goes through ½ of their gigabyte data each month just on texting.
- The average graduating senior will spend approximately 2 hours per day in a texting conversation.
QUICK GUIDE TO CURRENT WORDS/ACRONYMS
- Bruh: Casual nickname for a friend
- Fam: Closest friends
- GOAT: Greatest Of All Time
- It’s lit: It is awesome cool
- Curve: To reject someone romantically
- Salty: To be bitter about something
- Sip Tea: Mind your own business
- Thirsty: Being desperate
- Scoop: To pick some up or give them a ride
- Geekin: Laughing hard
- Smash: Casual sex
- Sugarpic: Suggestive photo
- Zerg: To gang up on someone (bullying)
- Gucci: Very impressive
- KOTL: Kiss on the lips
- TBH: To be honest
- NIFOC: Naked in front of the computer
- GNOC: Get naked on camera
- CU46: See you for sex
- 9: Parents watching
- AF: As F***
- WTTP: Want to trade pics
- LMIRL: Let’s meet in real life
** See a longer list in the “Quick Helps” section below.
QUICK TIPS FOR PARENTS
Here are some helpful things to remember when it comes to your child and cell phones.
Don’t Freak Out.
It is hard not to freak out the first time something happens that seems questionable. Keep calm, take a breath, and have a conversation. If you freak out the first time, your child may not come to you the second time.
It is a Privilege, Not a Right.
While phones and mobile devices are everywhere and everyone has them, it does not mean they are a right. Make sure your tween/teen knows that having a phone/device is a privilege, not a right.
Like any other privilege, it is earned and kept through appropriate use. If they can’t handle being able to text, explain to them the privilege might be taken away.
Keep it Private, But Not From You.
Your tween/teen needs to know that everything and anything they send, post, or share can become public.
Whether it be a text or a picture, they need to think before they text or snap. All photos they share need to be appropriate and honoring. If they would be embarrassed for you to see it, then they shouldn’t hit send. As a parent, you have the right to check their phone so don’t be afraid to ask for it regularly.
Keep the Face-to-Face Going.
In the world of text messaging, take every opportunity to talk face-to-face with your family.
Texting is great when you are away from each other. Don’t use text to communicate if you are in the same house or room.
Conversations that are face-to-face and heart-to-heart keep your kids safe and help them make wise texting choices. These valuable talks are not one-time conversations; but rather, regular and ongoing throughout the entire time they are in your home.
Bedtime, Meal Time, & Family Time.
Phones do not need to be in your tween/teen’s room after bedtime. Keep their phone in an area outside their room to charge overnight.
Mealtimes are for eating, talking and sharing. Make the rule for everyone, including you, that cell phones are off and put in another room during meal times.
Create and defend “cell phone-free” family time, whether it be a family night at home or time outside the home. Make family time about the people who are present!
- How Do I Select Monitoring Services?
- 7 Methods on How to Set Up I-Phone Parent Controls to Monitor Texting
- Decoding Teen Slang/Text Acronyms
- A Teens Guide to Social Media and Mobile Devices (book)
QUICK TEXTING ENCOURAGEMENTS
Texting does not have to be a negative tool in your home. It also can be a tremendous opportunity and a blessing to stay connected as a family.
It can allow you to share your day, send each other encouraging prayers, words, and Bible verses.
Here are few websites to help you get started on text encouragements:
- 40+ Text Messages to Send Your Teens
- Shine Texting App (Daily Inspirational Texts)
- Bible SMS (Daily Bible Verse Text)
- 10 Texts to Send to Your Teen in the Next 10 Days
Dan Istvanik has been working in youth ministry for 25 years, serving in churches in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Washington DC. He is a speaker, ministry coach, writer, and contributor to other ministry resources. You can contact Dan at www.mymresources.com, where he shares student ministry resources.
For more on technology, check out: