Sure, teens can talk to their friends for hours - or should we say, text their friends for hours.
But are kids being raised with proper phone etiquette today?
The land-line telephone is quickly going the way of the dinosaur; by the time the toddlers of today are teenagers, home telephone service could very well be a thing of the past. With this changing of the technological guard comes a new set of guidelines; here are seven great ways to teach your children modern phone etiquette.
- Lead By Example – Your children will take their behavioral cues from you, so it’s important that you use proper etiquette as well. This means never taking a call in a quiet, public setting such as waiting rooms or elevators unless it’s an absolute emergency. If you feel like you must take an important call, you should answer and place the caller on hold until you step outside. Being the person that everyone rolls their eyes at in the doctor’s office is a great way to teach your children what not to do.
- Discuss the Need to Prioritize – When presenting your child with their first cellphone, you should have a conversation about the need to prioritize a call. Explaining to them that the phone was purchased expressly to keep a clear line of communication open between family members and that they should never ignore a call from their parents unless they absolutely cannot speak is a good start; follow with a brief discussion about times when using a cellphone is inappropriate.
- Roleplaying – For younger children, teaching proper phone etiquette can be as simple as a roleplaying session. Using phones that are turned off, sit together and mimic a phone conversation; when you feel that they’ve absorbed the basic tenets of polite phone use, let them call Grandma for live practice.
- Talk About The Importance of Being Charitable – Explain to your children that having a cellphone is a privilege, and that not all of their peers will be so fortunate. Impressing the importance of allowing a friend in need to borrow their phone to call for a ride after practice is an effective way to continue the lesson you began when your child was a toddler: don’t be selfish.
- Use the Opportunity to Discuss Appropriate Behavior – Another way of teaching your child to use proper phone etiquette is to have a conversation about what’s appropriate and what isn’t. Let them know that their phone is subject to random searches, and that they should never send a message they would be embarrassed for you to see.
- Ban Phone Use During Certain Hours – Part of your first conversation about your child’s new cellphone should be a clear explanation that their phone will be off limit during certain parts of the day. Enforcing this rule and telling them why you’ve instituted it will send the message that cellphone use isn’t acceptable in some situations, such as mealtimes or family time. This is a great opportunity to discuss other situations that should never include the use of a cellphone.
- Open a Dialogue About Bullying – Cellphones can be a powerful tool in the hands of a bully, and your children should be aware that part of being a responsible and polite cellphone user is to never forward harassing messages or embarrassing pictures of a classmate. Your kids should be educated about what bullying is, and that it’s never “harmless.”