Okay mom and dad, you have decided that your tween or teen is old enough to handle the responsibility of having their own cell phone. You have laid down the rules, decided how much data you will permit, and feel that your child will abide by your wishes. But there’s something that we need to seriously talk about here – cell phone etiquette.
We provide phones to our teens so that we have an extra added measure of safety for them, we can reach them when we need to, our teen drivers can have GPS and a way to call if there is an issue with the car and overall we feel better knowing that they have the phone.
However, there is an area we are overlooking here. If you go into any store, gas station, restaurant or public establishment you are likely to see the issue. Teens (and adults for that matter) have no manners when it comes to their phones. There is a level of etiquette that seems to have skipped over the digital age and though we would not be outright rude purposefully, the lack of etiquette with our phone usage shows that we have a long way to go. This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about cell phones. You can check out my Guidelines for Technology (which includes the Cell Phone Contract).
Let me share with you a few specifics to teach your children so that they can master cell phone etiquette.
1. The person in front of you takes precedence over the person on the phone.
That means if you are standing in line at a store and you are taking a call, you should end the call when you get to the register. You are face to face with a real live person who is asking you questions (“Did you find what you needed? Do you want paper or plastic? Etc). It is completely rude to keep jabbering on and simply nodding in the direction of the cashier.
2. Eye contact is necessary when speaking to someone.
If your child texts as well as most, they become masters at multitasking and texting while talking. Our children should know that if you, or someone else, is talking to them it is considered rude to not make eye contact and give the person in front of them a more prominent place than the inanimate object in their lap.
3. No one wants to hear your gossip or relationship issues in public.
Keep private matters private. No one wants to be standing in line next to you and hear you argue with a friend or boyfriend/girlfriend. Also, no stranger wants to hear what so-and-so wore to the dance. Keep your personal conversations as such and don’t have them in public places.
4. Your phone should be on silent when in public places
Do not go to the movies with your cell phone on full blast, do not go to the library with your cell phone volume up, not a museum, not a job interview, nope, turn it to vibrate and ignore it if you are speaking with another human being.
5. Your phone is not the only entertainment available
When out with friends, look up, look around, and interact with them. All too often you can witness a group of teenagers standing around and instead of interacting with one and other, they are all scrolling social media. When you are with others, be with others, when you are home and bored, scroll away.
Just having the conversation and modeling good behavior with our phones is often the best way to ensure that our teens get an etiquette lesson on phone usage. Explaining that not giving your full attention to the person in front of you is one of the cardinal sins of ill etiquette may help too. Have the conversation mom and dad, make sure you are modeling the behavior and we can all turn this tide of lackluster etiquette we see every day.