Let’s Chat about Chat Etiquette

As mom to a pre-teen, I’m wildly aware that a lot goes on in chat conversations that I don’t necessarily have full control over. As our babies grow up into kids and then fly towards their teenage years, it’s part and parcel of the growing up process that we let go a little more and more, every day.


But that’s not to say that our ability to guide, and our children’s need for guidance lessens. In fact, in the instant-message-driven world of communication that we now live in, we could probably all use a refresher when it comes to communicating effectively.

After chatting with another tween mom online last night, I did a little digging to find some useful resources when it comes to teaching the subtleties of text etiquette to our kids. Huffington Post has this great visual on cellphone etiquette so take a look here.

Here are a few other hard and fast rules when it comes to chatting on your cellphone:

Privacy – never reveal personal information like your address, school or bank account details to someone you don’t know. That’s just common sense, I realise, but you’d be surprised how many people (including adults!) still do it. Also, don’t take a picture of someone without their permission, and never share a picture of someone online without their consent – it’s just good manners.

Emojis – emojis are a fantastic, short way to get your message across, but overdoing it in a conversation can be annoying to the person you’re chatting to. Just as too many hashtags can be annoying on Instagram, too many emojis may annoy your conversational partner.

Communicating Effectively – Bear in mind that communicating effectively over a cellphone chat can be difficult, because you’re missing the facial expressions of the person you’re talking to and could read things differently to how it’s intended. Be careful of your tone, and try to ensure that you’re clearly communicating through your messages. For example, if you’re asked a Yes/No question, answer with a definitive Yes/No response.

Group Chats – group chat functionality is fantastic, but it has its downfalls, especially when there are no defined rules set for the group or if people don’t keep to its purpose. If you’re setting up a group, ask people before you add them to it, and be upfront about the group’s purpose. If it’s a study-related chat group, members of the group should stick to the topic. Be aware too, that if you’re added to a group, you may not know everyone on it, so stick to good manners and keeping personal details or information to yourself.

Timekeeping – before the advent of cellphones, the only time you called someone on their home landline after 8pm, was in an emergency. Similar rules should still apply, because everyone needs their daily downtime, or to be in bed on time! Unless it’s an emergency, don’t text after 8pm.

Screen Talk is Real Talk – and lastly, remember this rule – if you wouldn’t say it to their face in person, don’t say it in a text message.


Cath Jenkin

As a mom, Cath raises her daughter with a strong focus on technology, as she believes that digital literacy is as important as learning to read. With a long history of creating content for online and print publications, and in particular as a parenting columnist, Cath brings her curious mind... Read more

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