Friday, March 29, 2013

Teens and Phone Etiquette

Remember when phone etiquette simply referred to the rules regarding answering the home phone? Now that most people, including teens, have their own cell phones, phone etiquette has a whole new meaning. It includes courteously using a phone to talk, text and enjoy the other features of today’s smart phones.

Here are some rules to share with your teen to encourage him to be a responsible and polite phone user.

Turn off your phone when you’re having a face to face conversation with someone. The increased use of cell phones, tablets and laptops has taken a toll on personal communication skills. Many teens have a hard time putting their phones down and engaging in a real and sustained conversation with another person. It’s become harder and harder for parents, teachers, coaches and others to connect with teens in meaningful ways, and when they are able to it’s often cut short by technology. While being able to answer the phone every time someone calls is convenient, interrupting a face to face conversation for a phone chat is disrespectful.

Teach your teen to turn off his phone or set it to vibrate (and then ignore it!) when he’s involved in a face to face conversation. Help him understand that by giving someone his full attention, he’s sending the message that he genuinely cares about what the other person is saying. Imagine how great it would be to enjoy dinner with your teen without his phone ringing, beeping or vibrating every few minutes.

Remember that basic phone rules still apply. Although your teen will know most of the people calling him, he will still need to know how to correctly answer a phone call meant for another. Remind him to speak clearly, ask if he can take a message, repeat the message back to the caller and use “please” and “thank you.” As a follow up, he should get the message to the intended party as soon as possible.

Keep the volume down when in a public place. There are few things more annoying than someone loudly chatting away on a cell phone right next to you. Remind your teen that when he’s in a public place like a restaurant or movie theater, he’s sharing that space with a bunch of people who aren’t interested in his conversation. He should keep his voice lowered and step away from the crowd to talk. Some may still be able to hear him, but his phone conversation will be much less intrusive to others.

Keep it G rated. Teens often try out a wide variety of curse words and crude statements as they find their “voice.” Although it’s a natural part of the teen years, that doesn’t mean others should have to endure it. Let him know it’s unacceptable to use that type of language in any public conversation, especially if children or young adults are around.

Don’t talk or text and drive. Not only is this good etiquette, it’s also an essential safety measure. Talking or texting while driving continues to rise and continues to cause injuries and fatalities. Make this a clear and unwavering rule for your teen to keep him and others safe on the road. There are also plenty of hands-free options available today. Many newer cars are equipped with built in Bluetooth connectivity, which makes answering a call or text safer. However, it’s never a good idea for your teen’s attention to be anywhere but the road, so carefully consider if hands-free calling is well suited to your child.

Don’t take pictures or videos without permission. It’s easy to snap a picture or grab a video with today’s smartphone technology. But just because it’s possible, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Ask your teen to make sure she has permission from everyone she takes a picture or video of. Many people, including other teens, don’t want to be caught in what others might think are funny poses or situations. Posting inappropriate pictures and videos has become a signature of bullying, so it’s a sensitive topic. Even if your teen has the best intentions when using her smartphone camera, it could lead to problems.
It’s easy for teens to get off track when it comes to phone etiquette. They have fewer and fewer opportunities to learn and practice interpersonal communication skills in their everyday life, so it’s no surprise when phone skills fall by the wayside. A few quick conversations and limits around phone use can easily get your teen back on track.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Summer Jobs for Teens and Tips to Get One

It’s the second most wonderful time of the year. Summer is here and school is out. But it can’t be all vacations and barbecues. It’s time to get to work!
If you’ve got kids in high school, or even home from college, you may be thinking: how do I make my son or daughter get off the couch and go get a summer job?

Summer employment, besides subsidizing your child’s own expenses, can teach him or her about work ethic, social skills, discipline, financial management, and generally help prepare the way for a long and happy career in “the real world.”

Below are some pointers to help you get the ball rolling:

1. Set the expectations. The first thing you need to consider is the rationale. Is it generically good for your teen to have a job? Why, yes. But it’s important to establish your priorities for why this is important. Make sure your teen understands that this is not optional, or they may be inclined to put off the job-seeking until it’s too late. Set specific targets (3 applications a day, or a hard deadline after which you can go with a sure thing, even if it’s not the first choice).
2. Start the search early. It’s already June, so it’s time to move. Chances are with your teen’s school schedule, starting now will leave only 2-2½ months to work, which is about as short a span as anyone wants to hire for.
3. Apply gentle pressure. If there’s any foot-dragging going on, some of it may be genuine nervousness; this stuff is still new and unfamiliar, after all. Talk about it on a daily basis, but try not to nag.
4. Help put together a resume. In all likelihood your teen’s resume is thin. Think outside the box and include academic achievements, community service, and extracurricular activities. Show them how best to emphasize the desired aspects of each activity.
5. Use your own network. Don’t feel bad about asking around with your own contacts. Part of what you aim to achieve may be some self-sufficiency on your youngster’s part, but it may be more important just to get something started, and as you’ve surely learned as an adult, who you know counts as much as anything. Nepotism is underrated: being on familiar terms with your child’s boss can be reassuring, and it may actually make your child a better worker if they know your reputation’s tied up in it a little.
6. Look online. and Craigslist are two of the most popular job-search sites for adults, but you’ll have to filter results (and be particularly cautious with the latter) to make sure the environment is suitable for a minor to work in.  Never give your personal information such as your social security number online to people on Craigslists especially.  You need to be very careful there.  Be sure they are legitimate.
7. Meet the employer. If your child’s working for a stranger, don’t let it stay that way. Make sure that some time (preferably before the start date, but certainly during the first week), you find an excuse to stop by and shake hands with the boss.
8. Consider volunteering. If money is not the primary goal for you or your teen, volunteer work can be a great way to keep busy, build a resume, and help the world. It’s a tough job market out there, too, and it may be a good year not to sweat the whole summer-job thing too much. Plus, community service opportunities are naturally more likely to be flexible with granting time off for summer trips!

This guest post comes courtesy of Susan Wells. Susan is a freelance blogger who enjoys writing about automotive and health news, technology, lifestyle and personal finance. She often researches and writes about automobile, property and health insurance, providing consumers with access to a trustworthy insurance quote guide and unbiased advice on purchasing. Susan welcomes comments.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Civility in the Digital Age

We hear about bullets that kill people. Gun control is a topic that is not going away. However there is another type of bullet that can ruin lives in a different form--and can be just as deadly. Cyber-bullets.

Sadly, hearing about online attacks by and between kids has become almost commonplace these days. But attacks against adults are an epidemic onto themselves. As someone who was a target, I know this first-hand, but it’s amazing that far too few people understand the extent to which online hostility and attacks impacts adults as well.

Andrea Weckerle, both through CiviliNation, the non-profit she founded, and her new book Civility in the Digital Age: How Companies and People can Triumph Over Haters, Trolls, Bullies, and Other Jerks is trying to change that. (Disclosure: I serve as an Advisor to CiviliNation.)

Her book outlines the problems we see online (the real-life examples she provides are often raw and hard-hitting), and also offers solutions in the form of best practices and techniques.

She starts by explaining why measuring and monitoring one’s online reputation is important, and breaks down how to do that. She also goes into considerable detail about what types of conflict we’re likely to encounter online (these can range from one-on-one interpersonal conflict to conflict with people who are pseudonymous or anonymous, to online lynch mobs), as well as who the most common troublemakers are (cyberbullies, online harassers and defamers, trolls, sockpuppets, and a host of difficult people). Of particular interest is the information about anger management, which includes insights into how to manage one’s own anger online and how to deal with those who are aggressively spouting off, both which are super important in the hyper-intense online environment. The chapter on conflict resolution skills and strategies get into nitty-gritty how-tos.

But it’s the chapter “30-Day Pan for better Conflict Management Online” that provides detailed information on how to put knowledge into action. Day 1, for example, explains how to start your conflict inventory and assessment, while Day 11 and Day 12 discuss choosing an online monitoring tool and setting up an online conflict tracking system, Meanwhile, Day 17, covers how to determine whether you need to bury or remove negative information about you online, and Day 29 talks about how to simulate an online conflict crisis.

“Civility in the Digital Age” is a serious book, but it’s also very hopeful. In the last chapter, Weckerle quotes serial entrepreneur and environmentalist Paul Hawken who says “If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.” Weckerle writes, “Hawken’s words are relevant to the online world, where you see both the best and the worst of humanity expressed. But if you’ve read this book, it’s clear you’re not willing to turn a blind eye to the egregious behavior found online—you want to make things better!”

And don’t we all want to do that?

In my opinion, if you are online today, you need to read this book.
Order on Amazon today!