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.