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Cell Phone Etiquette for Tweens

by Lori Sciame | May 2nd, 2011 | Tweens

One of my best grade school memories revolves around learning to use a rotary dial telephone correctly. Over a period of several days, the teacher not only talked about how to use the phone, but she discussed issues of etiquette as well. For example, we learned how to answer the phone correctly, as well as how to politely ask a caller to hold until the party asked for could be summoned.

In the thirty-five years since then, the way we communicate has changed drastically. We all know that. In fact, new statistics show that 1 in 4 adults no longer pay for a land line, opting for cell phones instead. But how does this affect tweens today? As parents, do we still need to teach tweens some form of cell phone etiquette? The answer is a resounding yes.

If your tween has been granted the privilege of using a cell phone, consider discussing the following issues with them.

1. Remind your child to answer the phone when you call them. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to reach a tween who “won’t pick up!”

2. Teach them that there are places where cell phones are not allowed. They need to learn the cell phone guidelines for school, houses of worship, libraries, theaters, museums, etc.

3. Model proper cell phone behavior. If you are always on your phone, you may want to re-think your attachment. As with much of parenting, adults should show children how to do things the right way – not “do as I say, not what I do.”

4. Make sure your child knows that there are times when they should NOT take a call. For example, it is grandma’s 70th birthday, and she is blowing out the candles…calls about what happened that day at school can wait.

5. Push for phone-free times. All children need a good night’s sleep. They also need time when they can disconnect from the world. It may be difficult to enforce, but keeping this rule is important.

6. Texting complicates cell phone use. Tweens need to learn to interact with the world; texting can inhibit social skills. Make sure to limit texting, and work to provide opportunities for your tween to interact with others in person.

7. Teach good manners. Saying please and thank you never goes out of style. And taking calls from grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other adults can be perfect opportunities to show respect.

I must admit that I miss the rotary dial and the curly cords from old-fashioned telephones. But I also like the fact that all three of my children were reachable by cell phone when they were tweens. Remember, although teachers no longer plan lessons around phone use, parents can help their children become responsible cell phone users.

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