Q: My son receives dozens of profane
texts each day from a friend. I want to take the texting away, but
my husband disagrees. How can I stop these rude texts?
A: It can be tempting to take away the
technology children use when parents notice irresponsible behavior.
Today, however, parents can use these situations as an opportunity
to teach and reinforce critical skills kids will need as they
become more tech savvy and independent.
Taking the texting option away from your son would be
punishing him for something that his friend is doing. Before you
jump to conclusions, try these simple and direct steps to stop
nasty texts and give your son some lessons in handling these sticky
Make sure you understand the situation.
Before you react to your child's foul-mouthed friend, consider the
context. Were kids quoting a song or movie? Is there an inside joke
going on? Did your child begin the swear-fest first? Ask your child
to be honest about the nature of the texts. "I want to understand
how these texts became so frequent and profane."
Encourage your child to talk to his
friend. Practicing responsible tech behavior is one skill
this generation of kids will need to learn. Ask your child to talk
to his friend about the rude texts and explain that his parents are
concerned. You may be surprised to discover that the friend will
actually stop-possibly out of embarrassment or fear of being found
out by his own parent. Try this: "Tell Jimmy that he needs to stop
sending texts with swears in them. Let him know you don't want
either of you to get into trouble or lose text
Speak up yourself. If you have an
opportunity to connect with your son's friend when he's over for a
visit or during a carpool after school, take the opportunity to let
him know you've seen inappropriate language used in texts. Avoid
acting angry or threatening. Simply express your disapproval of the
language and ask him to stop. Try this: "I've seen some of the
texts you've sent Junior and noticed they contained some profane
words. I don't approve of that kind of language and I'd like you to
stop sending those kind of messages."
Talk parent to parent. If your son
continues to get profane or disturbing messages from this friend on
e-mail, social networks or instant messaging, consider calling the
parents. Most parents will be grateful for some insights into their
child's tech transgressions if they do not feel attacked or
insulted. Reinforce the fact that you are calling to report the
behavior, not to criticize the child or parent. Try this: "I just
wanted to let you know about some text messages exchanged between
our boys. Many of them contained bad language and I thought you
would want to know."
Block the number. If your son continues
to receive constant profane texts from his friend, even after a
heart-to-heart discussion, consider blocking the number. Call your
cell phone service provider to find out how to specifically block
the number. Then, talk to your child about how his friend might
react to the blocked calls. Reactions can range from anger, to
embarrassment to bullying, and kids should be prepared to address
Understand parental controls. Many cell
plans allow a variety of parental controls, including copies of
text messages or a limited phone book. Contact your cell service
provider to see what is available and how this can help.
Sharon Cindrich is a mom and a writer specializing in
helping parents understand technology.
Sharon Cindrich is a mother of two tech-savvy kids from Virginia Beach. Learn more at sharoncindrich.com.
See more of Sharon's stories here.
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