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Teaching a Child ‘Texting Etiquette’

Nurturing Responsible Communication

It’s not uncommon for children to have access to a mobile device at an early age. However, handing over a phone to a child without any prior training on texting etiquette can lead to unexpected consequences.

From excessive use of emojis to spam-like messaging habits, it is essential to teach children responsible communication skills. Additionally, being vigilant about their interactions can help identify potential safeguarding risks. Here, we explore the importance of teaching children texting etiquette and how to ensure their safety.

Establishing the Basics of Texting Etiquette

When introducing a child to text messaging, it is crucial to lay a foundation of proper etiquette. Here are some key points to consider:

a) Clear Communication: Teach your child the importance of clear and concise messaging. Encourage them to express their thoughts in a way that is easily understood and avoids confusion.

b) Respectful Language: Emphasise the significance of respectful language and discourage the use of offensive or derogatory terms. Teach them to treat others over text messages with the same respect they would in face-to-face interactions.

c) Grammar and Spelling: Help your child understand the value of good grammar and spelling in their text messages. Correcting their mistakes gently will not only enhance their language skills but also improve their overall communication abilities.

Managing Emojis and Abbreviations

Where it’s a Smartphone, emojis have become an integral part of communication, but excessive use can hinder effective messaging. Here’s how you can guide your child in using emojis and abbreviations responsibly:

a) Moderation is Key: Encourage your child to use emojis sparingly and only when they add value to the message. Explain that an excessive number of emojis can distract from the intended meaning and come across as spam-like behaviour.

b) Meaningful Abbreviations: While abbreviations can make texting more efficient, they should not replace complete words or sentences. Teach your child to strike a balance between using abbreviations and maintaining proper communication.

c) Context Awareness: Help your child understand that emojis and abbreviations can be misunderstood if the recipient is not familiar with them. Encourage them to consider the context and the recipient’s understanding before using them.

Promoting Balanced Communication

One-sided conversations can lead to frustration and misunderstandings. Teach your child the importance of balanced communication by:

a) Encouraging Responsiveness: Explain to your child the significance of responding to messages in a timely manner. Emphasise that ignoring messages or constantly delaying responses can strain relationships and lead to misunderstandings.

b) Active Listening: Teach your child to actively listen to the other person’s messages and respond appropriately. Help them understand that conversations should be a two-way street, with both parties engaging and showing interest in each other’s thoughts.

Identifying Safeguarding Risks

As a responsible adult, it is crucial to monitor your child’s interactions and identify any potential safeguarding risks. Keep an eye out for:

a) Unusually High Number of Respondents: If your child is receiving an exceptionally high number of messages from unfamiliar individuals, it could indicate a safeguarding risk. Intervene and ensure their safety by discussing the situation with them and involving appropriate authorities if necessary.

b) Inappropriate Content: Regularly check your child’s text messages for any inappropriate content. Establish an open line of communication with your child, so they feel comfortable sharing any concerning messages they receive.

c) Cyberbullying or Harassment: Teach your child to recognise the signs of cyberbullying or harassment and encourage them to confide in you if they experience any such behaviour. Take necessary steps to address the issue and ensure their emotional well-being.

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