The Importance of Teaching Teens and Tween Cell Phone Etiquette
Do you remember your first cell phone? It was probably a very basic cell phone, so basic it’s only function was to actually make phone calls and maybe text (can you imagine?). In the early days of cell phones, we had Palm Pilots and Blackberrys. I had a simple Blackberry and I thought it was the best phone ever. Did you know the first camera on a cell phone was not introduced until 2003? Then came June 29, 2007. The day the first iPhone was released and cell phones have never been the same.
This was the dawn of the age of cell phones. It’s hard to imagine how fast cell phones have changed in just a decade. I am always amazed by the power of the small device I hold in my hand every day and how much I can do from “just” my cell phone. With the cell phones, also comes distractions and a need for cell phone etiquette like when is the right time to use your cell phone and how to be considerate of others and so much more.
Since none of us grew up with cell phone etiquette (maybe you are like me and didn’t even have a cell phone), as our children become teens and tweens let’s be sure to teach them cell phone etiquette.
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Cell Phone Etiquette for Teens & Tweens
Don’t Let Your Cell Take the Place of Having a Real Conversation with Your Friends
So often, I will see a group of teens and tweens standing around in a group, but instead of talking, they will be texting and playing games on their cell phones. Playing and texting on cell phones does not develop real relationships. You don’t want your child to grow and have memories like, “Remember when we were 16 and we….. were texting”. What kind of memory is that?
To have real relationships and memories, teach your children to put their phones and tablets down and have a real talk and experience with your friends.
As our children begin to get tablets and electronic devices, it’s important for us to limit the time they use those devices. But we also have to have times when cell phones are not allowed.
If You Text, Don’t Text Private or Inappropriate Content
Text messages seem private between two people. But the reality is text messages can be forwarded many times over. Pictures in text messages can be saved and reposted on other media.
As parents, we know not to say or share content we don’t want repeated or shared. However, our teens and tweens don’t have this same judgment skills yet and they sometimes make decisions in the moment. When they are young and just starting out, we have to teach them the importance of privacy. We need to help them know whenever you write something on paper, in an email, in a text message, on a Facebook page, can be repeated and shared many, many times.
A good rule to follow – when in doubt, don’t. If you think there’s any reason not to post content, then don’t post it.
Also recommended for you: Why My Kids Are Not Allowed to Watch YouTube Videos
Speak Quietly on Your Phone, Don’t Share Too Many Details. Be Discrete
Being able to carry a phone in our pockets and call or text everyone anytime is a mostly new ability (within the last 10-15 years). We need to help our children recognize some conversations and discussions are personal and private and should not be handled on a cell phone.
Secondly, if you are having a private conversation, be sure to step away from the group and lower your voice so that you don’t share information others don’t need to know or hear.
We want to teach our children to be discrete. Teaching our children to be discrete is challenging when we live in a world that is too open and indiscrete. It’s important to remember indiscretions may get temporary attention, but many times these are not things we want to be remembered for.
Know When to Turn Your Phone Off
Sometimes in life, we need to put our phones away. These times include when we are in school, in church, at a wedding, at an event when we need to pay attention to the speaker. We also need to put our phones away in small groups. It is not cute to text everyone in the group instead of talking and having fun.
If your child is old enough for a job, they should keep their phone put away while they are at work. They should not be texting while they are working, except during their break times.
No Phones at the Dinner Table
We have a strict no phones at the dinner table policy. Dinner time is family time, we talk and learn about each other’s day. Our children know this rule from the time they are able to walk to the table because the rule also includes no toys, no books, no electronics, and no phones. Yes, I strictly enforce this rule. I even tell guests in my house they have to put their phones away at the dinner table.
We also use this rule in restaurants. No phones or tablets while waiting in restaurants. How often do you go to restaurants and see everyone at the table totally engrossed in their phone? What is so important on the phone that is cannot wait until after dinner? When we have dinner in a restaurant it’s treated just like dinner at home, this is family time. We talk to each other not our phones, we try to get to know each other better.
Cell phone etiquette is an important skill to teach teens and tweens. Start with basics like when to put your cell phone away, being discrete and only sharing appropriate content.
What etiquette do you teach your teens and tweens about using their cell phones? What is your best cell phone etiquette tip?