Dear Teens, Here Are Things You Should Never Send in a Text

Some things are better said in person... or perhaps not at all

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: Dear Teens, Here Are Things You Should Never Send in a Text

Written by: Marybeth Bock

If your teen is like most, texting is their primary mode of communication.

In fact, teenagers will text their friends when they’re sitting right next to each other in the car. Heck, they’re even notorious for texting, “Hey, Mom, what’s for dinner?” when they’re literally right down the hall in their bedroom. 

Given the choice between texting or having a face-to-face conversation, most teens will choose to text. And, who can blame them? It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s on their terms. It’s private since no one can hear them talking. They don’t have to respond right away if they don’t feel like it. And, it’s a great way to get out of having to deal with challenging or awkward in-person conversations. 

But what it also does is allow them to hide behind a screen and say things they otherwise wouldn’t or shouldn’t say. And, because texts can’t accurately convey someone’s tone, emotions, facial expressions, or body language, it’s all too easy for them to be misunderstood. 

The bottom line is, there are just some things that should never be said OR sent over text. So teens, if you’re reading this, you might want to think twice before letting your thumbs do the talking. Here are things you should never send in a text.

Dear Teens, Here Are Things You Should Never Send in a Text Message


1. Sensitive or Personal Information

It might seem harmless enough to send personal information via text, but scammers and hackers are everywhere, and evolving technology is making it far easier for them to tap into cellphone text messages. Make sure your teen knows to never text their social security number – a BIG no-no since criminals can use their social security number to steal their identity and open credit accounts, apply for loans, or conduct other fraudulent online activity.

Other things they should never text are passwords of any kind, credit card information, online banking information, and personal health records. Unless they’re sure it’s a reputable, secure portal, don’t offer up the information via text or otherwise.

2. Revealing or Nude Pictures

Years ago, I read something that I often shared with my kids. Never text anything that you wouldn’t want your grandma, church leader, or a newspaper journalist to see. Not only can what they text land into the wrong hands, but it can be screenshot and saved only to rear its ugly head weeks, months, or even years later. (Plus, old boyfriends and girlfriends have been known to lash out by exposing previously sent images.)

Of ALL the things you should never send in a text, this tops the list. Nothing, and I mean nothing, in a text is really private. So, teens, don’t be swayed into thinking it’s okay to share revealing, aka “nudes.” This is one move you’re likely to regret later.

3. Break Up with a Boyfriend/Girlfriend

I get it… romantic relationships for teenagers can be full of emotion and sometimes awkward, especially when they’re trying to wrangle out of a relationship with as little direct eye contact or confrontation as possible.

However, unless the relationship is toxic, abusive or it simply isn’t safe to do so, breaking up with someone should be done face-to-face.

Not only does it show maturity and integrity on your teen’s part and respect for the person they’re breaking up with, but your son or daughter will also walk away knowing they did the right thing. Plus, they’ll have a better chance of the relationship ending amicably. 

4. A Friend’s Secret

We all know teen friendships can be unsteady. One minute they’re besties and the next they’re vowing never to speak to one another again. But regardless of what transpires between your teen and a friend, they should never ever throw them under the bus by sharing their personal information or secrets via text or any other way. Not only is it possible their previous bestie will retaliate with similar frenemy behavior, but they have to remember that their integrity is all they really have. 

5. Spread Gossip

Someone once said, “Be careful about spilling the tea because tea stains.” I know… we’re all guilty of it, at times – both teens and adults. But nothing good ever comes from gossip and starting or sharing gossip via text has serious staying power. In other words, if you don’t want your words to come back to haunt you, don’t say, start it or share it when you text.

6. A Big Apology

True sincerity is difficult to convey in a text. That’s why apologies shouldn’t be texted, even if your teen thinks it’s “really not that big of a deal.” Unless it’s something trivial like, “Hey, I’m sorry I didn’t text you back right away. I was finishing my homework,” save your apologies for face-to-face interaction so you can express your feelings authentically.

Saying something like, “I owe you an apology. Can we meet later to talk?” is a great way to get the conversation rolling while showing maturity and real sincerity.

7. Saying “I Love You” for the First Time

Even if your teen thinks texting “I love you” is easier and could spare them the embarrassment if the declaration of love isn’t reciprocated if they feel someone is that special then they need to have the courage to be vulnerable – in person.

Tina Gilbertson, LPC, a psychotherapist and expert on relationships and communication, offers great advice. Most of us have trouble with tender, difficult, or emotionally charged conversations. “Handling a topic flawlessly is not the point. The point is to show up and be open to floundering around a bit with someone who really matters to you.”

8. Complaining, Ranting, or Accusing

Whether it’s a mild annoyance, a serious complaint or they’re convinced someone intentionally did them wrong, your teen really needs to think twice before complaining, ranting, or accusing anyone of anything via text. Again, anything texted can be saved, screenshot, and shared and emotions will never be conveyed appropriately in a text.

So, before they go off to OR about a coach, teacher, boss, friend, or even a parent or sibling in the heat of the moment, they might want to take a deep breath, collect their thoughts and save those conversations when they’re actually with the person. Plus, it’s really good for our teens to practice handling conflict/concerns calmly and rationally in person instead of taking the easy road and hiding behind a screen.

TEENS: This goes for bullying anyone online, too. Depending on state laws, the penalties for cyberbullying can range from school suspension or expulsions to jail time.

9. BIG News They’re Not Ready to Share with the World

When your teen shares really big news with anyone in a text, it’s unlikely the news will stay private for long, even with a promise among friends that it will. Your teen should assume that any texted “news” is out there for all to see.

10. A Long Drawn-Out Novel

If you’ve ever written a long text only to have someone respond with “K,” then you know. Most people don’t want to read a 5000-word novel in a text. It’s better to keep it short. Oh, and you might want to avoid all caps (so the person on the receiving end doesn’t think you’re yelling or being “salty.”)

We’ve all made mistakes when texting, (after all, it’s not like there’s a “texting rule book” to follow), but if your teen can keep these texting guidelines in mind, they’ll avoid the possible backlash from a text that never should have been sent.

Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor, and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing – as long as iced coffee is involved. Her work can be found on numerous websites and in two books. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.


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