Be aware of cyberbullying

Cyberbullying involves using an electronic medium to threaten or harm others. Being bullied as a child has been linked to mental health problems, impaired academic performance, substance abuse and violence.

Make sure your teen understands that it isn't acceptable to spread rumors or bully someone through texting or any other means. Remind your teen that any text message he or she sends can be saved or forwarded to anyone else, so it's important to use good judgment with every message.

Also, encourage your teen to talk to you or another trusted adult if he or she receives harassing text messages. Explain that you won't take away electronic privileges if he or she confides in you about a problem.

Monitor your teen's messages

Know how your child is using his or her phone, as well as the Internet and social media platforms, to interact with others. Sit down with your teen and look through his or her text messages occasionally — or let your teen know that you'll periodically check the phone for content. You might also install a parental control system on your teen's phone to find out how much texting or Web surfing he or she is doing, and set restrictions.

Enforce consequences

If your teen isn't willing to follow the rules and expectations you've set — or you're concerned that texting is interfering with your teen's schoolwork or other responsibilities — take action. Remove your teen's ability to text or send pictures through his or her phone — or take the phone away.

Remind your teen that having a phone is a privilege, not a right. Preventing potentially serious consequences outweighs any anger your teen is likely to express.

July 29, 2015 See more In-depth