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Cell Phone and Texting Etiquette

April 19, 2010 Tagged as Parent Tips, Technology

We’ve all been there; trying to enjoy a peaceful dinner at a restaurant or watch a movie in the theatre, when a person speaking loudly into a cell phone breaks our auditory solitude. We cast annoyed glances, maybe even a reprimanding look towards the offender, who very often doesn’t even register our frustration. This frustrates us more.

Many times these cell-phone abusers are adults who ought to know better; after all, most seem to be professionals who are carrying on some type of business so urgent they can’t wait until after they’ve eaten their beef and broccoli to discuss it. But many times the cellular-gabbers are teenagers who probably haven’t been instructed in basic cell phone etiquette. They live what they see, so to speak, and mimic the behaviors of those around them.

Texting is another issue that seems to be cropping up in the news with relative frequency. Adolescents are able to text without even looking at the keypad, rendering it an effective tool for cheating on tests and sending answers to their friends. Students are also sending text messages to threaten and intimidate students, and the harassment is having detrimental consequences for many teens.

It’s estimated that children as young at 8 years old own and use cell phones. But are parents giving them any instruction on phone etiquette? Not to talk on their cell phones in a library, while checking out at a store, and not answering a ringing cell when they are speaking to someone in person? Not to text while at a family party, or especially while driving?

Michelle Cimino tackles this very issue in her book, Cell Phone Etiquette, Observations from a Mom. She unabashedly admits to her love and obsession with cell phones and their many benefits, such as “…the allure of being available to your customers…and the beauty of being able to find my daughter…” She’s not just a fan of cellular technology, she also feels it’s important to teach kids how to use their devices—which includes texting—at appropriate times and in respectful ways.

Cimino uses her life experience as a mom of two teenage daughters, along with her own observations, to provide parents, teachers, and students a go-to guide for appropriate cell phone use. The best part of Cimino’s book however, is the comprehensive list of texting acronyms located at the end. Parents and educators would be well advised to copy this list and post it near the bed or keep a copy in your briefcase or purse and commit it to memory. One of the most effective tools for making sure your children are using technology appropriately (and your attempts at keeping them safe as well) is a parent’s ability to know what children are saying in their conversations with each other. If parents and teachers aren’t familiar with the likes of “404,” “10,” or “LTTIC,” which are acronyms for “I haven’t a clue,”  “parent is watching,” and “look the teacher is coming,” respectively, they will be left out in the cold when it comes to deciphering messages and may miss an important opportunity to intervene. It will also help you text your own children, who may respond better to “OMDB” (“over my dead body”) than hearing you utter the word “no” when they ask to attend a late-night party in a secluded location.

Not all teens and tweens misuse their cell phones, but educating them about respectful ways to use technology in public will go along way towards a happy, smiling community; where people can enjoy their movie and dinner in peace. For more information about cell phone etiquette and texting tips, check out Michelle’s website at: BB4N!