Friday, February 6, 2015

Texts Are Never Private

Texting is such a way of life for kids and teens in this generation (adults too). It allows for rapid and easy communication. Unfortunately, this results in a lot being said without much thought about how it will be received. The impulsive nature of kids and teens paired with the distance a text provides can lead to them writing things they would never say face to face.   

One of the most important lessons for children and teens to learn is that text messages are never private. First, with many phones, when a text message comes in it is seen on the screen even if there is a lock screen. A phone can be left on a desk or table and if a message comes in, anyone can see it. Second, many parents check their kids’ texts. Because the kids are embarrassed about this, their friends often don’t know their messages are being read. Third, anything texted is in writing and can be shared. While friends tell each other they won’t show anyone, we can tell you as parents and therapists who interact with many teens every day, this is not the case. We have not spoken with a teen who has not had a text shared without their permission.

Parent Tip:

One way to help kids monitor what they write in texts is to tell them to write them as if their parents were reading them. This is an important guideline because texts are never private and there is a good chance that someone's parent will read them.  We often hear from kids that they want their privacy. We agree. They need to have private conversations with their friends. Anything they want to communicate that is private should be done voice to voice, either a phone call or in person.

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