How do we teach kids good manners when using their phones, tablets and gaming devices? What should parents do to make sure their children use their devices politely? I think it’s important to talk about this subject and make sure it’s part of the training that parents give their kids. Yes – one more thing!

Recently, I was at a convivial dinner gathering of friends and two teens, daughters of a friend. We were all sitting around the table eating and chatting, but the two girls had their heads down, busy on their phones. Do you think this is acceptable behavior in a social situation?

Perhaps you would just “go with the flow” and put up with it, but I think the girls need a lesson in manners. Just as so many people, not just kids, need a word of advice about texting and calling in the presence of others who are not on their phones or devices.

Years ago, I was taught by my mother who was “up there” in the manners department, not only table manners and how to greet people, but also what to do when guests came to visit and I was reading a book or magazine in the living room. I was taught to put the book down and socialize, not keep on reading with my head down in the presence of other people, especially adults. The rule was that if others in the room were reading, I could read. Otherwise, I could go somewhere else if I excused myself politely.

Transfer my mother’s teaching to present day situations and you could see that kids could be taught to be more polite when in the presence of others, putting their devices away at the dinner table at home or in a restaurant, and participating in discussions with others in the group. Is it really necessary to always be on a device? Like the message of the road signs in New York State tell us, texting should be done in certain areas and at certain times, only.

Now, here’s a question for you: Are you a person who has your phone on at the dinner table, possibly being distracted from family conversation when your phone tells you a message has come in? Can you wait until the meal is over before checking your phone? If you, as a parent, are not setting a good example, your kids not only won’t learn good manners, but they also may feel less valued by the interruption. How do you feel when you’re having a conversation with a friend, her phone rings and she answers it, making your discussion stop in its tracks? The last thing we want is for our children to think that we aren’t interested in what they have to say.


Many people are turning off their phones and putting them in a pile at the door when they’re at a social occasion. I advise parents to ask kids to do the same when their kids and friends get together in their home.

So, if you want your children to learn proper behavior, you must be a good role model for them. Turn your phone off when you’re spending time with them. Show them that you’re available for them, that they have your full attention. Teach them to do the same with their family members and friends.

One more thing: many people are now foregoing land lines in favor of using cell phones. How do your children learn to answer a phone or take a message? If there’s no home phone being used by all family members, the opportunity to learn this just isn’t there. With this in mind, let your kids answer your cell phone when it rings, and teach them how to greet a caller politely and write down a message. It’s a valuable life lesson that will be useful in their future lives.

We don’t need to be constantly available or at the beck and call of our tech devices. Let’s teach our kids how to be respectful when on their screens and to be more thoughtful of others. In so doing their social skills will improve and family relationships will get better as well.



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