When I sent out the interest forms for the teen advisory group we’re starting at the public library where I volunteer, one of the questions was: “What’s the best way to reach you?” Not surprisingly, several of my teens said texting. That’s fine and dandy, until I realized that texting them would mean a) giving out my personal phone number and b) using lots of my measley 200/month texts to send event reminders. If this were a permanant position, I might not be bothered by the personal phone number thing – I really believe in being availble for the teens – but unfortunately, I’m only in this “job” until I graduate in May. To be honest, though, I haven’t given a lot of thought to the reprecussions of giving out my personal phone number because item b – my limited texting budget – makes it pretty much impossible. We have 40+ kids signed up for the TAG, so if I send out just one reminder and get replies from most of my teens, that’s half my texts for the month! I’m not a texting fiend, but I’d rather not run out and end up paying $0.20 every time I want to send my sister a funny picture.
Luckily, a little Googling turned up a free and handy alternative to texting teens from my own phone: web to text sites! These sites let you send a text message to almost any number direct from the internet – no personal phone number needed. I used http://ohdontforget.com to message my teens. There are several sites that do pretty much the same thing (see list at the end of this post), but Oh Don’t Forget has two added benefits. It doesn’t require me to know the service provider for each number, which some of the sites do. Second, it somehow, sneakily, makes it through the filtering software on the staff computers at the library where I work, meaning I can do my work from work (yay!) instead of having to do it from home. Oh Don’t Forget is the only web-to-text service I’ve tried, but there are lots of others out there. It’s a great way to keep in touch with busy teen patrons without sacrificing tons of your own limited texts!
(In addition to the sites listed above, most service carriers have some kind of web-to-text service available, and you can find out more by searching the carrier’s individual site)
What’s your favorite way to stay in touch with teen patrons?