This past June, after achieving certain academic goals, our 11 year old daughter got the privilege to text. It’s limited texting–only 10 outgoing texts a day–but it is texting nonetheless. I’d heard the horror stories of texting from other parents. The distraction, the inappropriate forwarding, the lack of verbal communication, and even bullying. So prior to bestowing this honor, I discussed my concerns with parent and work/family Ph.D., Dr. Christine Murray. She graciously shared the “Texting and Cell Phone” contract she developed and had her daughter sign. Four months into our texting tenure, it’s been a godsend:
- Upfront, we were all on the same page–my daughter, her dad and I.
- Expectations and ramifications were clarified and understood.
- When an infraction occurs (they inevitably do!) we go back to the contract which is publicly posted in our kitchen. Consequences are executed with a low drama level, which as any parent of a tween daughter knows is not always easy.
Now, Dr. Murray has generously agreed to share her contract with you! Enjoy. Hope it helps you tame the tween texting beast. Let us know how it goes.
Texting and Cell Phone Rules
1. Do not text in the following circumstances:
- at the table – at home or in a restaurant.
- while in a car with other people (unless it is a long car trip, or an emergency – in which case you should excuse yourself before sending the text…”sorry, I just need to send a quick text to my mom.”)
- at church, on a family outing, in the movies
- in other circumstances, use your common sense to decide if it is an appropriate time to text – is it rude to the people around you?
2. You should not text one friend while you are with another friend. It is rude and indicates that you don’t care enough about the person or people you are with.
3. Text messaging should not take the place of interacting with your friends – getting together or calling.
4. Be careful about what you text – do not spread gossip or say mean things via text. It is too easily passed around and can cause hurt feelings. It is also a permanent record. You are responsible for what you text
5. Do not give bad news by text – don’t break up with someone by text or give other bad news. Do it in person, ideally, or on the phone if you can’t do it in person.
6. It is easy for a text message to be misunderstood because the recipient of the message can’t see the sender’s facial expressions or hear her tone of voice. Jokes and sarcastic comments may cause hard feelings if they’re passed along in a text message.
7. Be very careful about sending pictures or videos. Never send any inappropriate photos or videos. Try to avoid sending photos or videos of yourself or other people at all.
8. Your phone should be in the kitchen charging by 9:00pm on a school night and by 10:00 pm on Friday and Saturday nights. Your phone may not be in your room overnight.
9. Never-ever text while you are driving a car. Never-ever read a text while you are driving a car. Pull over to the side of the road.
10. Texting is a privilege and can be revoked for poor behavior.
11. Parents reserve the right to check text messages at any time.
I have read and understand these rules. I agree to follow these rules and realize that if I do not, my texting and/or cell phone privileges may be suspended or revoked.