Most kids cannot wait to get their first cell phone. How many times a week does your child ask when can they get one? All the while, the actual phone calling feature is taking a backseat to texting and other forms of communication. Last year, when I was teaching at Cary Academy, one of my students questioned me when I introduced the German word for “talking on the telephone” as part of the chapter vocabulary. “Why are we learning a word we will never use?” he inquired. The rest of the class agreed. “Nobody talks on the phone any more! We text.” I had to laugh. - Well, thank you students for the reality check! And as I and other adults around me use this form of communication more and more, I understand. Texting can be carried out while performing other tasks, without interrupting anyone and, if done discreetly, without anyone knowing. For the kids, this means that their conversations are less likely to be overheard by the “rents.” Privacy! Finally! Yesss! - “Not exactly,” you say! You are diligently (we hope!) checking your child’s communications on his/her device(s), and you know exactly who your child talks to and when. Besides, you have a strict family policy that devices are kept in common family areas. But as you are looking over your child’s shoulder, you can’t help but notice “CD9.” You stop and ask: “What does CD9 mean?” Reluctantly your child fills you in on the lingo...
So, how can you as parents manage new communication media in the hands of your children? Here are a few tips:
- As with other issues related to your values and child's safety, have a family policy that clearly describes expectations and consequences for technology use. If you do not allow your child to have a television or computer in his/her bedroom, should you allow him/her to have unfettered bedroom access to cell phones, media players or handheld games? Here is a family contract that can serve as a guide and template as you determine your own policy.
- Talk to your child about texting etiquette:
- Be courteous: Give people your full attention and don’t text while talking to someone in person.
- Be kind: Don’t text anything that you would not feel comfortable saying to a person face-to-face.
- Be discreet: Don’t text anything (text or photo) that could turn into an embarrassment later.
- Be safe: Do not answer texts from people you do not know in person. Report it to your parents.
- Don’t text and drive (remember this when they are older): An insurance poll found that 67% of teens admit to texting and driving. Sign a pact that neither of you will send or read messages while driving. Tell your teen to stop in a safe location if they feel a text is important. Point out that most calls and texts will not need immediate attention. Model what you will expect. Your children are watching and learning from your behavior.
- Harness the power of texting when communicating with your child - from communicating logistics and reminders, to sending good luck wishes and hugs and kisses.
- Know the lingo. You don’t have to know every little aspect of your child’s social interactions. Yet, being vigilant is part of parenting, and if you don’t understand what is being said, you will not know if you need to step in. Look at the word cloud above. Do you know what these acronyms stand for? IMHO, I think you should at least be aware and know the most common ones. Below is an abridged parent primer that was published in USA Today on January 2, 2015.
CD9 - "Code 9" Parents Are Around
99 - Parent No Longer Watching
KPC - Keeping Parents Clueless
MOS - Mom Over Shoulder
P911 - Parent Alert
PAL - Parents Are Listening
PAW - Parents Are Watching
PIR - Parent In Room
POS - Parent Over Shoulder
WYRN - What's Your Real Name?
143 or 459 - I love you
ILU - I love you
KFY - Kiss For You
K4Y - Kiss For You
KOTL - Kiss On The Lips
RAFO - Read And Find Out
CYT - See You Tomorrow
IMHO - In My Humble Opinion
L8R - Later
LMK - Let Me Know
NM - Never Mind
ROTFL - Rolling On The Floor Laughing
WYCM - Will You Call Me?
B4N - Bye For Now
BRB - Be Right Back
CWYL - Chat With You Later