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To Text or Not to Text

By Tina M. Radcliffe
This article was written for CollegeTipsForParents.org by college parent, Tina M. Radcliffe has written an entertaining and informative article about contacting your college student. The article discusses text messaging, and gives parents great How to Text tips, lingo, and etiquette regarding text messaging.

Have you ever tried to actually reach your college student? I panicked because I couldn’t reach my daughter, “Mom, I'm busy, honest.” She assured me she hardly ever talks on the phone anymore, and those days spent surfing the web, are long gone. If I want to reach her I have to text message.

Text messaging is the number one tool to reach my daughter and she responds in a flash. Unlike a mobile phone call it allows me the convenience of connectivity without the hassles of a phone conversation in not so private places, such as the workplace, the movie theater or while you are in line at the bank, the post office or the grocery store.

For my student, the convenience is that a text message can be sent and received anywhere and anytime, including in class—enough said.

Text messages are so popular that many colleges are considering utilizing an emergency text messaging alert system. This type of system will send out bulk emergency messages, based on studies that indicate text messages are read faster than phone messages. I have written to my student’s college asking them to consider such a program.

What is a text message? A text message is simply a typed message between two mobile devices. It can be between phones or from PC to phone, or between phone and a PDA device.

Text messages usually involve abbreviated words to save time, money and energy.
Think of the abbreviations as similar to the emoticons used in email. Emoticons too can be used on a text message.

AYT = Are you there?
BB4N = Bye Bye for now
BG= Big grin
TTFN= Ta Ta for now
HRU= How are you?
GG = Gotta go
2nite = tonight
YSIC = Why should I care?

My daughter informed me right away that like email, it is considered poor etiquette to use all caps which is in effect, shouting.

Phone plans are capitalizing on the popularity of text messaging. In the past many included free text messaging with plans. While those still may be available, text minutes were far and away the biggest dollar item on my college student’s phone bill. I wished I had reviewed my student’s mobile plan carefully before she left. At the end of September I discovered all those VBFs (very best friends) from high school were now sending messages to my student from all over the country. At 10 cents a text, that meant my first bill of the first semester was—surprise--huge!

I was stunned to discover my daughter had barely used her phone minutes but her text messages went over her limit by three times over. A plan that provides unlimited text messages for 20 dollars a month seemed expensive at first, but it made all the difference in keeping me within my budget and maintaining my relationship with my daughter. I was no longer cranky every time the phone bill came and I could still keep in touch with her as easily as a quick text that says, Check-in, please!

There’s nothing better in the middle of my hectic workday than a text message or emoticon from my college student that says, LY (love ya) or MUSM (miss you so much) or XO!

Of course I also get those messages that say, SEND $

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