Cell Phone Etiquette
A Time in Our Not So Long Ago Past
I am so glad I grew up in an atmosphere without cell phones.
I am glad that as a teenager, the only expectation was that I be where I was supposed to be and be home by my curfew.
I didn’t have to worry about getting a call or text from my mom asking me what I was doing or who I was with.
What an aggravation that would have been.
A cell phone would have interrupted my time with my friends like a cold bucket of water being thrown on us at the height of our fun and silliness.
Today, it seems kids do not know how to function without their cell phones - for that matter, neither do adults.
Cell phones are a wonderful tool to have, but they also interfere, not only in our lives, but in the lives of those who are around us.
Some common sense rules of etiquette need to be applied and taught to our kids.
Friend Communications with the Cell Phone
I remember going to school events, and my mother would tell me to call her when it was time to be picked up. We would all line up at the pay phone, put our dime in and call our parents to pick us up. While we waited, we would stand around and talk and visit and plan our next outing. Our parents would show up one at a time, and we would leave. Now, before the school event is even over, kids can text or call for their parents to pick them up. The parents' cars are already lined up when the event ends. That is a nice feature of the cell phone, but patience has flown out the window with our kids and us. "Be at this point at this time and don't be late."
What about when kids are spending time hanging out together? They are being bombarded with texts, and they interrupt what they are doing to respond to the text. Sometimes kids are more into their texting with people they are not with than they are appreciating the time with the people they are with at the time. It is rude and annoying. Feelings get hurt and the one doing the texting may or may not know the effect it is having.
How about adults? Have you ever set a lunch date with a friend and have the friend either text or answer the phone several times during the lunch? Are we really that much more busy than our parents? We need to put the phones on silent, let those who need to know where we are, and enjoy our time with our friend, colleague, date, grandparent, etc.
Many times people don't care. They are addicted to texting and the constant stream of communication. For some it is like a status of popularity; little do they realize that the person they are with are not impressed by being ignored.
Family Communications with the Cell Phone
What about when we get home? How many people text with their kids at home simply because they are outside or in a different part of the house? How many times do we go somewhere and get a text from one of our kids, “I’m bored. Let’s go”? The face-to-face contact with our kids is being replaced by the cell phone. It is easy for our kids to express their feelings that would be considered rude if spoken out loud in the company of others. Do we allow it? Do we allow the interruption of what is a nice social atmosphere because we have a bored kid texting us? What signal are we giving our children if we allow this “quiet, rude behavior”? We need to put our cell phones away when we are in a social situation, and our children should be taught it is not acceptable. This will be a difficult rule to enforce because society encourages it. Texting should not replace face-to-face contact with others, whether it is good or bad. People and kids need to quit hiding behind their phones and take care of things on their own.
Another issue with cell phones and family communications is that many people have gotten rid of their land lines. It is understandable to cut down on the costs. Many of us still have a land line, but it hardly ever rings because people call our cell phones. Parents have no idea who is calling their kids, and we are missing out on talking to people we know and love. Back when we only had land line phones, whoever picked up the phone had a chance to visit with the person calling then could pass the phone off to the person the call was meant for. Now, I hardly ever get to talk to my husband’s side of the family or he mine because they call our cell phones. While some might invite these “missed interactions,” I miss that close family connection that was simply cured by a quick, “Hi, how are you?” then passing the phone off. This is an etiquette that is slowly pushing families apart. Maybe we should start answering each others’ phones at home. We do need to know who are kids are talking to, and we want them to know who their other family members are.
I Wish American Teachers Could Do This... It's Not So Crazy...
Cell Phones in the Classroom
As a teacher, I understand why students have cell phones at school. The more frequent occurence of school shootings have created a fear that we cannot shake; therefore, students have cell phones. I don’t always like it, though. It would be great if they just carried their cell phones, but kids are good when it comes to texting without the teacher knowing. They can text while the phone is still in their pocket or purse, without even looking at it. Teachers in most schools can take the phones and keep them until the end of the day, but kids love to take advantage at the end of the day and pull their phones out to text. They feel triumphant when the bell rings and they are able to take their phones back.
Students can take pictures with their phones, record with their phones, and cheat with their phones. These violations at school cause major problems for the student and the school. Parents text their kids while they are in class. What is the kid supposed to do? Ignore the parent or get the phone taken away by the teacher who only knows the kid is texting during class? It might make it easier for the kid, the parent, the teacher, and the school if the parent did not text the student at school. Schools and parents need to work together to make sure students are not using their phones during class time. If there is an emergency, parents need to call the school.
Cell Phones in Public
It is not just bad social etiquette for family and friends to use cell phones at inappropriate times. The general public has become more inconsiderate with their cell phones. People talk in loud, irritating voices on their phones in public – imagine being stuck in a small area like a restaurant, bus, subway, or doctor’s waiting room having to listen to some boisterous, one-sided conversation. Or how about that glaring cell phone screen in a movie theatre that is glowing and distracting others? Most of us don’t have to imagine because we have experienced it.
How many of us have been guilty of it? If so, stop it. You are being rude. An emergency is one thing, but when you start holding up the line while buying groceries, you are taking up other peoples’ time. When you are inconsiderate enough to have a cell phone conversation in some public areas, you are torturing a captive audience. When you are talking on your phone in a restaurant, you are not only being rude to those you are with, but you are ruining the quiet meal of those around you. When you are in a dark theatre, turn your phone off or leave the theatre so those who spent money to be there can enjoy it. As a society, we must consider how we want to be treated and try to do the same for others. Put the cell phones away.
Cell Phone Distractions
Then there are times the cell phone is forever by my side, and I get a phone call when I don’t want to be reached by anyone. “Leave me alone!” I want to scream. I know, I could simply ignore it, but I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do that unless it is a long distance unknown number, probably from a telemarketer. We cannot even get away from those pesky calls when we have our cell phones. With kids and elderly family members, I don’t feel I can keep my phone on silent all the time. And when we do place them on silent, how many times do we check them?
Bottom Line: Follow Common Sense Rules of Courtesy
- Teach your kids to speak to you and others for the face-to-face communications they will need to use in the real world. No more texting each other when you are in the same house.
- When at home, answer each others’ cell phones so you can communicate with loved ones and keep up with whom your kids are talking to.
- Make sure you do not text your kids while they are in school or at work. It is an interruption and a disruption to the whole environment. Plus, students will use it as an excuse to text friends or even text answers to “help out” a friend.
- Keep you phones handy in public, but use them as little as possible. Remember, other peoples’ time is important.
- Don’t ruin an evening for others at a restaurant or theatre by talking on your cell phone or texting. People did not plan an evening or did not pay to listen to your one sided conversation or to watch the glow of your phone. These are real mood killers.
- Be considerate to yourself. If it is important, you will see a voice mail or message pop up.
- Remember, time is something we cannot get back: family time, friend time, work time, and alone time. All are important factors to keeping us balanced. Do not allow your cell phone to take away these important times.
© 2012 Susan Holland