Texting, Gossip and Ground Rules

Updated on March 17, 2014
S.R. asks from Scottsdale, AZ
13 answers

With so many kids getting iphones and ipod touch devices, it seems like texting among younger kids has gone wild. I'm ok with my dd texting for fun, but I notice some of her friends "gossip" about others on text messages. I told my dd she cannot talk about another kid on texting because it can be misinterpreted and even if something nice is said, it gets twisted and repeated incorrectly. If someone else brings up another kid's name I tell her to change the subject. I've also told her not to engage in gossip in person or anywhere else. I am surprised at the number of kids who gossip on text (and probably in person)
Do you teach the same to your kids?

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answers from Boston on

I told my kids that they should never text anything that they would not want their grandmother to read, nor text anything that they would not say to someone's face.

9 moms found this helpful

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answers from Albany on

The "rules" for electronic communication are about the same as face to face communication, wouldn't you say?

Technology is just another vehicle to show your social skills. Or not.


14 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Yes...but even further, I read their texts and go through their accounts without notice. At any given point in time, I'll say "hand me your phone" (or iPad or whatever) and they have to. We have passwords to their online accounts and complete access to any computers or devices that they use. I have been drilling into their heads the idea that there is no privacy on-line and if they're worried about a teacher or parents reading or seeing what they're sending or receiving, then it's a conversation they need to not be a part of. If I can't read it, then don't write it. If I can't see it, then don't send it. And if you get something in that category, delete the photo or message and end the conversation.

There was a story in our newspaper today about how a kid who goes to high school with my kids was just sentenced - in district court - to community service because he used an app to capture some indecent photos that he had a 15 year old and 17 year old girl sent to him via snapchat and he shared them with his friends. Just stupid, stupid, and stupid all around. I'm glad that he was caught and punished, and I hope the girls have learned to not trust others to not share what they think are private images.

The issue is that parents want to give their kids access to phones, computers and devices but don't want to put the time and effort into properly monitoring what their kids are doing on-line and making sure that they really understand the risks of their actions before slowly stepping back. My two oldest are 16 & 15 and we don't watch all of their accounts like we used to, but they know that we will still take their phones at random and start going through their messages and will log in to their twitter, facebook, and instagram accounts as them and poke around. Our hope is that being policed will ingrain in them the knowledge that there is no privacy.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I told my daughter that she should assume that the person she is talking about WILL read the text, and to proceed accordingly. I showed her how easy it is to forward texts, and we have read articles about how so many kids are bullied via text, Facebook, Instagram, etc, and therefore she needs to proceed carefully and with forethought on all forms of social media as well as via text, e-mail, and the like. She also knows that if any "mean girl" activity is initiated by her, or if I hear about her being involved in any way, I will take away her phone, laptop, iPod, etc. So far, so good.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Richland on

Teach? I wouldn't give a phone to my kids if they didn't already have a handle on right or wrong.

13 is when my kids get cell phones and I never really said anything beyond lose it and you have to buy a new one. The older two are adults now and I never had issues with inappropriate texts.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My philosophy is pretty simple: don't put anything into a text or online that you wouldn't want plastered on a billboard in the middle of town with your name and face included.

My son is only in first grade, but we let him know that saying 'not nice' things about people just to talk (as opposed to solving problems) isn't kind and we would prefer if he didn't do it. The fact of the matter, though, is that they are kids and they are going to have lapses in their judgment. Hopefully, they won't have to learn the hard way too many times.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

What are YOU modeling for your kids behavior?

I don't say anything on social media, text, etc. that I would NOT say to your face. I tell my kids the same thing.

If you see the gossiping - what do you do to stop it? Do you ask for proof? Do you tell the kids enough is enough? At some point - you need to stop being afraid of kids and be a parent.

If they won't say it to their face or get up on stage and say it to a crowd? They shouldn't be texting it or whispering it...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I have lectured my dd several times about this very thing. When I first gave her the IPod a year ago, I drafted up a contract and made her sign it. I also went over the rules and expectations verbally. Since then, we've had several reminder talks. I regularly check through her texts and haven't seen her doing anything questionable which is good. But, I've seen stuff from her friends, and have used it as a teaching moment.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Yes. And the best way to teach this is by modeling it. So if you don't trash-talk, your kids probably won't either.

Trash talking is ugly. So keep up the good work.

Good point, Theresa.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Kids will screen shot messages and send it to their friends too. I have warned my daughter not to put anything in writing she wouldn't want everyone to see.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New London on

Sadly, it's easier to write something to somebody. If these kids were face to face...It wouldn't be so bad. It is still communication and rules BY PARENTS should be in place and consequences should be in place. If the child bullies another kid---Take it away - not for a day--- a week !

Age 13 is the earliest a kid should have a phone/texting !

These gadgets should NOT be in the hands of kids. WHY? Half of the parents I know are in denial and either do not read what their kids write or turn their cheeks.
It is a problem. Too much stress on kids, too. If you have a kid who is not a leader...It may not be easy on a child. I have seen this one too many times w/ my friends who had kids later.

Luckily, my kid is much older...and there was no texting. I took her phone every night and put it on the kitchen table. It did NOT go into her bedrm. Nor could it be used after 9pm. YET...all of her friends were talking on the phone under the covers until 1 or 2 am.

Kids are hurried today. No...texting should not be allowed unless parents check the text.

Just take a peek at tv shows and movies today...It is out of control. Even the commercials are horrid. Kids soak all of this in. Plus, parenting is not as strict today.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Hi, S.:

It's interesting that you are writing this. Are the parents of today that ignorant that you think telling your child something that they are going to listen. The problem is: No child needs an ipad, cell phone, or iphone unless they are buying one for themselves.
We are teaching our young to be detached, unfeeling, and self absorbed with having these electronic gadgets in their hands.

They are addicting.

They need to be having face to face conversations with their peers and others.

Our country is in a financial hole.
Many people are oblivious of what freedom means. It means to get our heads out of the sand of self indulgence and attend to the business of life.

I am appalled at the amount of time wasted on trivial matters when our country is 16 Trillion dollars in debt, china is shipping us all products for our use, crime is in the streets and we are worrying about our children
gossiping on a phone.
I can't believe what I am reading.
Good luck,


answers from Boston on

Teach her that, if she wouldn't say it to someone's face, she shouldn't be texting it. Texts stay out there forever, and they can be forwarded or misinterpreted, or edited! It's very easy to put anything in writing and put it "out there" but it's a lot harder to say it in conversation. When you look at the anger, insults, gossip and vitriol on adult blogs and websites and FB (and, frankly, even on Mamapedia), it's pretty clear what can happen when the human factor is removed!

Read her that story about the feather pillow - look it up to get the full text. The questioning child is advised by the wise man to view each piece of gossip (or in this case, each text) as a feather in the pillow. The child empties the pillow and the feathers go all over. Then the wise man tells her to pick them all up and collect them, to re-stuff the pillow. Of course she cannot because the feathers are all over and they can never be brought back.

I think there is no reason for young children to have all these devices and no need for them to have texting packages. Start looking at the phone bills to see how they add up in the absence of "unlimited" packages, first off. But beyond that, it becomes an extremely impersonal form of communication, complete with poor spelling and abbreviations, and it doesn't help them in any way (socially, educationally, and every other way). I'd ask your daughter why texting is "fun" and why it's more fun than being with her friends or talking to them. If she can't answer that, she shouldn't be texting and she shouldn't have technology that allows her to do it. At least put strong limits on the number of texts she's allowed per day (just like limiting TV shows or computer screen time) and at least let her learn to prioritize.

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