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Do You Know Who Your Kids are Texting?

So I'm settling in for the evening with my family, and I get a text message. I'll protect the sender's identification... for reasons you'll find quickly.

        404452???? : Ask mariel wat was the home work in math 

I didn't know the sender, I don't have homework, and I certainly didn't know any Mariel. I figured I might as well try and figure out the real scoop here.

        Me : wat? 

Apparently this was interpreted as "type that again" rather than "what in the world are you talking about?"

        404452???? : Ask mariel wat our home work was in math 2day i 4got

At this point, I'm starting to get curious. I wonder what age kids start getting math homework--and cell phones.

        Me: Where r u? 

I didn't expect a town name, needless to say.

        404452???? : Home

Whew, good answer. I suddenly realized that asking any more details on the whereabouts and such of a minor would probably land me in a very bad situation.

The minds of the clueless are so much fun to mess with though; let's see if we can turn this into a learning opportunity! Jessica and I briefly considering sending "OMG CALL THE COPS MARIAL SHOT ME" or something similarly disasterous, but figured that's probably a bit too far. What about "Mariel sayz no homework, it's been canceled tonight"... naw...

        Me: Marial is totaaly freking out about sumthin, hold on. 

Soon afterward...

        404452???? : O ok

At this point some more evil ideas: "Mariel says she h8s you now, wats with dat?" "Mariel says drop dead." Naw, crossing that line again...

        Me: U better call marial u got the right numbr? 

Uh oh, I thought. I hope they know better than to text me with someone else's phone number...

        404452???? : I dnt have her number at All

Ah, OK. now let's see if we can cause some ed-u-ma-cation...

        Me: Well how did u get mine? 

Between the lines: "because it's pretty obvious you didn't get by replying to a text from me!"

        404452???? : U gave it 2 me

Now, let's find out who I am. It's good to keep tabs on all one's alter egos.

        Me: Oh? R u reaaly sure about that? U might wanna check the nmbersagain... Who u think I am? 

Fully expected a snarky answer here, but got a fact instead.

        404452???? : Darrin

Eep. Well, at least I'm a guy. I still don't know the sender yet--but that's a good thing security-wise. 

        Me: Fail! U gdt the wrong number. I've been messin with u a bit. Better call Darrin after u check the numbr. 

At this point, I thought it was a done deal.

        404452???? : O who Dis

Here, I quit texting. I could have become "Darrin's cousin pulling a prank" and really gotten someone (me) into some trouble. As it is, my phone number will now be showing up on someone else's bill.

But think about it.

  • Do you let your kids text?
  • Do you review the bill in detail?
  • Do you verify the numbers?
  • Who do your kids text--intentionally or otherwise? 

Unlike a wrong phone number--where you know instantly you've misdialed--a wrongly targeted text message may cause a significantly different situation.

I like to watch America's Most Wanted. I certainly don't want to participate in it.

Just something to ponder.