We do everything we can to teach our kids good manners. We instill the importance of “please” and “thank you” before they are even old enough to talk, and we have the help of our friends at Sesame Street and Nick Jr., kids’ books and games to help teach traditional manners. But in this age of digital gadgetry and gizmo abundance, the definition of manners is expanding greatly and it’s up to us to model the appropriate technology etiquette.
A recent study on mobile behavior by Intel showed that the majority of adults in the U.S. wish people practiced better etiquette when using mobile devices. Nine out of ten Americans say they have seen people misuse technology. (Yes, ma’am, we’re talking about you, who thinks that whispering loudly on your cell phone during a movie in the theater is OK.)
The top three pet peeves cited in the study are: Using mobile devices while driving, talking on the device loudly in public places (ahem, movie theater lady) and using a mobile device while walking down the street. The last one is not as much an issue for me, I mean, sometimes, you just have to walk and talk. But if your child sees you happily chatting away on the cell phone while trying to find the right Wiggles CD and passing some snacks back, well, that’s just not good modeling behavior.
Participants in the study also reported seeing people use laptops while driving (YES, laptops), in public restrooms (eww), and even on honeymoons! (“Darling, I can’t wait to tell you how much I love you…after I check my email.”)
Kids are watching our every move and learning from our behavior. Technology is going to be even more engrained in their futures and it’s important they start their young digital lives on the right foot. The Emily Post Institute, the gold standard for etiquette, offers the following tips for cell phone usage:
- Control your technology, don't let it control you!
- Speak softly.
- Be courteous to those you are with; turn off your phone if it will be interrupting a conversation or activity.
- Watch your language, especially when others can overhear you.
- Avoid talking about personal problems in a public place. Do you really want everyone to know why you're going to the doctor?
- If your cell phone must be on and it could bother others, use the vibrate mode and move away to talk.
- Don’t make calls in a library, theater, church or from your table in a restaurant. (OR at the dinner table, I’d like to add)
- Don’t text during class or a meeting at your job.
- Private info can be forwarded, so don’t text it.
- NEVER drive and text at the same time.
If we want to raise our kids to be responsible digital citizens, it starts with us.
What is the worst misuse of technology you have witnessed?
If you have a question for Screen Play or would like to submit a product for consideration, please contact LetsPlugIn@gmail.com.