Tweens and teens spend a lot of time online. A lot. Parenting in the online world can be very new and different, but there is one thing that will always be in style, whether when using technology or interacting face-to-face: good manners.
When talking with kids about technology, parents focus on safety and limits or usage rules set forth in a contract. That's great, and hugely important. Technology talks between parents and kids are also a good chance to review manners. While this blog is about tweens and teens, there are a whole lot of adults who could benefit from some tech etiquette rules, too.
1. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
This old aphorism is especially true when it comes to communication on the internet, where what you post is public and lives forever. The permanence of the internet is something that's especially tough for tweens and teens to grasp, especially in this world of Snapchat and other apps that try to convince users that messages can just "disappear," which is not true.
If you wouldn't say it out loud and to someone's face, do not say it online or in a text.
As stated in the Tween Us phone contract for parents and kids: Be kind always: online, on your phone, in person. Also, be honest.
"Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use." ~Emily Post
2. Speak when spoken to, or text when texted, or answer when called, by your parent.
Ignoring direct communication is rude, and socially unacceptable.
I've heard of several parents frustrated by kids who do not answer their calls, texts or Facetime requests. It's less likely that kids would ignore you when you spoke to them at home. Parents can make it clear to kids that responding to parents is a condition of having the phone. The response time is something that each family can set.
Explain to kids that you're not calling to have a long conversation, but rather need to briefly check in, arrange pick-up, etc.
3. Similarly, do not ignore the people you are with and don't be disruptive.
Does this seem perhaps incongruous with the prior rule? At first glance, perhaps, but it is entirely possible for a kid to see a message on a phone, glance at it and either not respond or say, "This is my parents and I need to respond briefly, excuse me for just a moment." Yes, I know that no tween or teen will speak that way, but Emily Post and I can dream, right?
Sometimes adults ask kids to put phones down because of the disruption, and that should always be respected.
Eye contact is important and in this culture is seen as a sign of respect, but eye contact is impossible to achieve when you're staring at a phone. One way some parents encourage this is with a cell phone basket in the kitchen or by the door. If doing that, it's best to communicate that to parents and give them a number they can call if they need to reach their child, either the land line or the cell phone of an adult who will be available to answer.
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Filed under: Technology