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Textiquette: Good, Bad, and Off Limits

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Because it's so fast and so convenient, texting is now the No. 1 form of communication. But because this tool is so powerful, it has ground rules and responsibilities. Since texting has no boundaries or face-to-face communication, it can cause misunderstandings and even lend itself to abuse. Words matter, especially written words. Here are some do's and don'ts to remember about texting:

Don't ever text while you're behind the wheel of a car, under any circumstances. If it's that important, pull out of traffic and park your car before picking up the phone.

Don't be tempted to bully, threaten, or be mean to another person by text. If you wouldn't say it to that person's face, don't say it at all.

Don't text sad or bad news, or anything private or confidential. This should be done in person only.

Don't text at the dinner table (either at home or in a restaurant), in a movie theater, or when someone is talking to you. If you're a passenger in a car with other people, text only if necessary, and then excuse yourself first.

Don't freak out if you don't get a response to your text within 30 seconds.

Don't text in class. It's disrespectful to the teacher, and besides, you should be paying attention!

Do text your parents to let them know where you are.

Do make sure you're texting the right person. Put your friend's phone number in your phone's address book so you will be able to identify responses and vice versa.

Do be aware of your tone. Without face-to-face communication, words can inadvertently cause hurt feelings.

Do remember that anything you say online is not anonymous. Your online DNA will follow you for life.

Do remember that your phone has an off button. Give it a rest from time to time so you can both recharge your batteries.

Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert, an on-air contributor, and the author of A Traveler's Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder and CEO of The AML Group (www.lisagrotts.com), certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Stanford Hospital to Cornell University and Levi Strauss. She has been quoted by Condé Nast Traveler, InStyle magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on www.Twitter.com/LisaGrotts and www.Facebook.com/LisaGrotts.

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