Virtually every teen and tween these days has a cell phone, but with the privilege also comes responsibilities. If your child thinks that the world would come to an end if you took their phone away, (and most of them do) then they also need to have a good understanding of cell phone etiquette.
Whether you’ve just given your child their own cell phone or whether you’re planning on taking that step, here’s your guide to teaching your kids about the appropriate way to use their cell phone.
Texting And Messaging Doesn’t Replace Conversation
Although having their own cell phone generally means that your child wants to send texts and messages to their friends all the time, it’s important to instil in them the idea that this should never take over from face to face interactions. Bonding with friends means spending time together in person, and that goes for family members too. It’s all too easy to send a message downstairs to ask if dinner is ready rather than actually coming down and asking the question. Make sure they know that this is an absolute no-no.
Keeping It Brief
Encourage your child to keep any messages to the point and brief. If the conversation is carrying on for several minutes, tell them that it would be best to call their friend to carry on the conversation instead.
Don’t Be Rude
It’s very rude to have your face stuck to your cell phone when you’re spending time with other people. Make sure your child is aware of how other people around them feel if they’re being ignored in favour of a phone screen, and to have consideration for those feelings.
Thinking Before Texting
If your child has had a fight with a friend, make sure that they know to wait until they’re feeling calmer before texting. Putting hurtful things in writing won’t help the situation and could make things much worse. Once they’re ready to talk things through, it’s better to do it in a phone call or in person rather than via messaging or text anyway.
Context Is Key
It’s important to teach your child that messaging and texting has no clear context. If the recipient can’t see the facial expression of the sender or hear the way in which they message is being said, they risk misunderstanding what is being said. A sarcastic comment or a joke could upset the recipient simply because the context has been misinterpreted.
Content in messages and texts must be appropriate. Of course it goes without saying that children should be taught to never say anything inappropriate or offensive in a message, but they should also think twice before delivering bad news via this method. It’s always better to deliver bad news face to face.
Timing Messages Appropriately
You must teach your child that there’s a right time and a wrong time for using a cell phone, and there are certain places and circumstances in which it would be thoroughly inappropriate. In class, in church, at a movie and during a meal are just some of the times when a cell phone should be kept out of sight.
Above all else, your child must be made aware that having a cell phone of their own is not a right, it’s a privilege, and if they abuse that privilege it will be revoked. Make sure your child is aware that if they break these etiquette rules they put their cell phone ownership at risk. After all, if they’re responsible enough to have their own phone, they’re responsible enough to handle the consequences.
By Zunammie Keren
Taken from the April 2018 issue of Geek Parenting, out now!