The Importance of Mobile Manners

It goes without saying—manners are very important. Every day, we try to instill proper manners into our children, so that they will be polite to others. We want our children to respect and be kind to everyone—to treat others the way that they want to be treated.

However, how often do you encourage your children to be well-mannered while online?

Too often, kids and teens think that because they are writing from behind a screen, they have the power to say things that they would never say in person. They may be ruder or meaner online, simply because they are not talking to someone else face-to-face.

It’s crucial to remind your children that having a phone or tablet is not an excuse to forget about manners.

Here are some great ways to enforce mobile manners:

1. We will not look at our phones while talking to someone else –
The best conversations happen when we talk face-to-face, without any distractions. By not using phones while talking to each other, we can actually listen to what is being said and truly contribute to the conversation. You may also want to enforce rules like, “We will not look at our phones while walking” and “We will avoid using our phones while spending quality time with family.” Phones tend to distract us from what’s important. We will focus on what’s in front of us, and put our phones or tablets away.

2. We will not keep phones and tablets on, or under, the table during meals –
Meal times are the few times of day when the family can get together, chat, and spend quality time with one another. Devices should not get in the way of genuine family conversations. It is not polite to sneak devices to the dinner table, and hide them while pretending to be engaged. It is better to enjoy a meal together, and use our phones and tablets once we are done eating.

3. We will be honest and authentic online –
We don’t see others face-to-face while online, but we will still treat others with respect. We must remember that there is a person on the other side of the screen. We will not lie, make fun of, or bully others. Our words matter, whether spoken aloud or written online. Our words and actions will affect other people. If we see bullying online, we will not encourage it; instead, we will tell an adult. We will use social media and online communication in positive ways. We will share good memories and use social media to connect with and celebrate others.

Kids and teens are online more often than ever before; they carry their phones wherever they go. While it is great to be connected, we must also set limits and establish proper social media manners. There are times where phones are not needed and where being engaged in the moment is more important. We can use these mobile manners to be more polite and kind to others offline and online.