Tame that Texting: Tips for Parents

Alex is a 16-year-old girl from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She enjoys playing soccer, writing for her school newspaper and her favorite subject is History. 


Texting for teens is like reading the newspaper for adults.  Adults read the paper to catch up on the latest news.  Teens text for the same reason.  Their ability to have instant access to the latest gossip from their friends is irresistible.  However, there is a point when texting becomes too much. Yes, something as harmless as a cell phone can physically affect a teenager. Many teens text away into the wee hours of the night, diminishing the amount of hours of sleep needed to function productively the next day.

There are ways, as parents, to control excessive texters:

  1. 1.   Tell your teen to leave the phone downstairs before they go to sleep.

Most teens are going to throw up the red flag at this one.  The trick is to let them make the decision. If they realize on their own terms, how destructive lack of sleep is, they are more likely to leave their phone out of their room so they are not tempted to text.


  1. 2.   Give your teens an ultimatum. 

They are allowed to have their cell phones in their room as long as their bedroom doors are open and you, as the parent, are able to walk by at any given moment.  If they are texting, the phone gets taken away.

Again, the key to this tactic is getting the teen to agree.  If they agree on this kind of deal, they will feel some kind of pressure to uphold it, even if they don’t want to admit it is for their own benefit.  The teen will get tired of being on edge, wary of the parent who could walk by their bedroom at any moment and who could take the phone away if they see it being used.


  1. 3.   Most phone carriers provide Parental Control locks.

For example, AT&T has a parental control program that allows parents to assign times that their teen’s phones can “sleep,” making them dormant for a certain period of time.  My mom has used this option on my phone since freshmen year. My cell phone shuts off at 11 p.m. No text messages are allowed in or out after 11 p.m and before 5 a.m.  Also, I have a text message limit of 1500 messages a month.  I have learned how to control how I text.  Now I text what I like to call “smart,” only having necessary conversation usually revolving around homework or weekend plans.


It is not uncommon for a teen to get extremely frustrated when a parent tries to convince them that they text too much.  I didn’t understand that my mother was only trying to help me when she limited my texting, at first.  Now, I can thank her because it gives me so much more time to sleep, which is one of the things, like most other teens, I love to do.



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