A Mother’s Woe. A Son’s Obsession!
“My son is an addict. He’s 12 years old and addicted to his iPhone. What boundaries can we set and help him learn some cell phone etiquette?” – Kathy I., Huntersville.
Although I don’t know your son personally, I feel like I know plenty of kids just like him. They text every thought and feeling, they use Instagram, Vine, and Snap Chat like their social life depends on it, and they play games like Geometry Dash and Flappy Bird until their fingers physically hurt!
I agree with you (and so will all of the child experts) that you do need to limit your son’s use of the cell phone for his mental, physical, and social well-being. Although it’s really hard to be the “bad guy”, we are the parents and we are the ones who can, and should, set limits on cell phone, computer and TV usage.
Each parent knows what will work best with his/her own child and what consequences are most appropriate based on age, gender and interests, but here are some tips on how to teach your children how to use their cell phones with limits, and of course, nice manners.
Top 4 Cell Phone Etiquette Tips for Kids
1. Make house rules. For example that no one is allowed to use their cell phone at the dinner table (very important) and before/after a certain time. Be very strict with this and make sure everyone in the house adheres to these house rules. Have a specific consequence if these rules are broken like no phone the next day.
2. People come first. Explain to your kids how important it is that when they are talking with someone else, or when they have company over, that they need to be in the moment and give the other person their full attention and stay off the cell phone even if it rings or they get a text. Model this behavior for your kids and really enforce the importance of showing people more respect than the phone!
3. Cell phone goes away during homework and family time. If your child is always “plugged in”, they cannot concentrate on anything or anyone else. When you go out for dinner I see a lot of kids playing on their phones while waiting for the food to arrive. Wouldn’t be a better idea to have the kids keep their phone in the car and use that time together to talk? There are some fun family conversation starter type games on the market that are great to bring along to restaurants.
4. Use it for good not evil. They should not use it to say anything mean to or about anyone else. Using a cell phone and texting (not even talking about the internet and social media) is a privilege that can be taken away if they misuse the phone by hurting anyone’s feelings. If kids do have a smartphone, then they need to learn about internet safety, and learn the importance of not sending any pictures or information to others that they wouldn’t want the world to see.
And, because I think adults can always use a reminder about cell phone use themselves, here are a few tips to share with the adults in your life whose BFF is their phone!
Top 3 Cell Phone Etiquette Tips for Adults
1. Show respect. If you are talking with someone in person and your cell phone rings, or a text pings, don’t immediately look away from the person you’re speaking with to answer it! If you do, you are showing that the person who’s calling/texting is more important than the person you’re with. It’s very rude and people will be offended.
2. In restaurants put the phone on vibrate and keep it off the table. The table is not the place to put your phone while eating in a restaurant. Put it away, place it on vibrate so it doesn’t ring and irritate other diners, and then only talk on the phone away from the table.
3. Be aware of others. We hopefully remember not to talk on the cell phone when we are at the movies, in a library, in a place of worship, or in a meeting, but it is also offensive to talk on the phone when others are sitting next to you and can’t avoid having to hear your whole conversation. So, next time you are taking on your cell phone while in a bus, in a doctor’s waiting room, in the airport lounge, or other similar places, remember to talk softly to avoid bothering others, keep your conversation short, and be aware of the language you use in case there are kids nearby.
I post a new blog every Wedesnday so please check back. Thank you!
For more information on the new and modern cotillion class called “Impressions”, tips, and videos on manners please go to finesseworldwide.com/impressions. Have an etiquette question? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to answer your question or even feature it in my next blog.
Aimee Symington is a modern cotillion instructor, etiquette expert, and creator of “Blunders” board game on manners. She has appeared on The Today Show and is a monthly etiquette guest on Charlotte Today and is the CEO of Finesse Worldwide, Inc. with offices in Charlotte and San Francisco.