“You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.”
This was one of my favorite lines from the iPhone contract a mother gave her 13 year-old that has been circling the internet since Christmas. Janell Burley Hofmann had many other great suggestions for her teenage son about cell phone etiquette.
Many of your youth will have received new gadgets for Christmas, whether that be a phone, tablet, game system or MP3 player. And that is exciting! These should be celebrated, shared, explored and drooled over just for the fun of it.
But as that famous Spider-Man line goes: ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ (actually it was Uncle Ben – not the rice guy). It’s therefore also a great time to talk with your teenagers about cell phone etiquette – where, when and how they use the fantastic new devices.
Cell Phone Etiquette Discussion Questions
Here are a few highlights from the iPhone contract with some questions you might want to explore with your youth this new year:
1. “If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text.”
- How late is ‘too late’ to call your friends or when is too early on the weekends?
2. “Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.”
- Do you find that it’s easier to text something (or put it on Facebook or Twitter) rather than saying it to someone?
- Why do you think that is?
- What are some pros and cons to sharing things via text or face-to-face?
3. “Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts…it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear – including a bad reputation.”
- Have you ever said or done something online or via text that you wanted to take back?
- How did you handle it?
- What would you do differently next time?
- If you were to send inappropriate photos via Snapchat, is there anything stopping the person from taking a photo of the photos, meaning they don’t only last a couple of minutes?
4. “Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you.”
- Do you ever leave your phone (or other device) at home?
- How does it feel?
- What do you think might happen if you leave it at home sometimes?
5. “Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without Googling.”
- Carrying on from #4, take the time to see the world without the lens, whether that’s the lens of social media, your camera phone or your video games.
- What are some things you like to do without technology?
- If you can’t name anything, what is one new thing you’d like to try that doesn’t involve technology?
What we’re really talking about here is a possible session plan about basic life/social skills when it comes to technology and devices. Many youth don’t have parents who will share cell phone etiquette with them or detail some of these dangers or pitfalls. Take the time to share some of your words of wisdom so that your youth can unplug.
You also might enjoy a post that Ben Kerns wrote recently about manners.
Question: How would you address the issue of cell phone etiquette for teenagers? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.
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