Talking to Teens About Healthy Phone Communication
Boundaries and Texting vs. Talking
Whether a teen is texting, calling, using direct message through social media platforms, or sharing public posts, talkingto them about healthy communication habits is important in keeping them, and others, safe.
When talking to teens about healthy communication habits, a great place to start the conversation is withboundaries. Create an interactive and discussion-based environment by starting off with a question:
What are some boundaries that are important to have when using technology?
Talk through this question. Some are time and availability, which are important boundaries to have and are vitalwhen talking about healthy communication. Let them explain their ideas and thoughts, creating an openenvironment to share.
Help them develop some simple boundary tactics for if they ever interact with someone who doesn’t have the same boundaries as them.
I can’t text after 9:00pm, sorry!
I have to do homework, can’t talk!
I have family dinner right now, talk later.
Talk to them about taking breaks and why that’s okay; how taking a break and coming back later on is healthy.
What are some examples of when taking a break is a good idea?
- You’re stressed when your phone goes off
- You feel pressured to respond, even if you’re in the middle of something else
- Someone keeps messaging you and making you feel bad about not responding fast enough
Feeling stressed and unsure of boundaries when using technology can be common in a teen’s life, and it’s possible that these feelings will happen again. Talk to them about these situations and making sure they know they have the freedom to say no, seek support from a trusted adult, and take breaks from their phone without feeling guilty or stressed.
When Should Conversations Be Face-toFace Instead of Over Text?Think of a list of possible scenarios that you can talk about withteens. Work through these together, discuss why some of thesesituations would be “texting conversations” or “face-to-faceconversations”. Hear what they have to say, work with them tostrengthen their boundaries and reinforce why face-to-facecommunication can be the healthy contact in certain instances.This may be a discussion focused on healthy communication habitsbut it can also be a time to connect with them; to listen to their ideasand reinforce that you are a support system for them if they everneed to talk to someone.
- Inviting people to a hang out
- Cancelling an important meeting with a teacher
- Breaking up with someone
- Resolving a conflict with a friend
- Submitting homework
- Letting your family know your plans
- Telling your friend why you’re frustrated with them