Developing good cellphone habits

2019-05-29 06:00

SMARTPHONES and other cellular connected devices have transformed how we communicate, becoming essential tools for every day life.

Instilling good manners in children (and practising them ourselves) is a vital part of life and in the digital age; teaching children how to behave online has become just as important as teaching them how to behave in public.

“Our mobile devices allow us so many avenues to communicate with each other. But the manner in which we do so can vary from platform to platform,” says Michelle Beetar, Cell C’s chief customer experience officer. “It’s important to instil in our children and ourselves basic politeness and etiquette, however, we choose to communicate.”

Good conduct shouldn’t get put on hold when using a phone, tablet or computer. So, if you are a parent and feel your children need a little guidance, the following tips may be useful:

HERE ARE THE BASICS:

Out of sight, out of mind

There are certain times when putting your phone on silent is preferable — such as any formal gathering (weddings, funerals, social engagements). Cellphones have become so integrated with our daily lives that we forget they’re also an interruption. Nobody is going to thank you for talking or texting in a cinema. Just as is the case with any other social behaviour, it’s our job to make sure our children are aware when it’s inappropriate to use a phone.

Public noise alert

Your child may love playing audio on a game or video in public, but not everyone around them may agree. We can’t blame parents for eventually becoming immune to noise, but it’s a good idea to make headphones compulsory when you’re out in public. This way you’ll be teaching your children to be aware of their public cellphone behaviour at all times. An added bonus is that headphones enhance the listening experience.

Monitor screen time

Develop a habit of monitoring screen time. Some phones come with a built-in monitor, or you can download one of several apps that monitor your screen time on a daily or weekly basis. Some will even break this down to show how much time is spent on specific apps.

Very few of us, and this goes double for children, are aware how much time we spend staring at our phone screens. This is a good way to help children (and adults) develop a healthier balance between time spent interacting with their phones and real-life interaction with family and friends.

Think before you type

In the same way we teach our children “not say that to other people” or “don’t be rude”, we have to teach them that the same applies with what you type on your phone. Whether it’s in a text message or on social media — what you type on your phone is literally the same as saying it to someone in person or shouting it out in public.

It’s crucial to make youngsters aware of this, because there is no longer a distinction between online and real-life behaviour. And this counts for all types of messaging: just because you think a meme is funny, doesn’t mean everyone will. It’s a tricky road to navigate, but we have to teach them that your online identity affects the way others perceive you on a daily basis.

Make sure your cellphone is protected

If we’re teaching our children that their online behaviour is the same as public behaviour, we need to make sure they understand the importance of protecting themselves online. The simple act of making sure your phone is password protected and installing a trusted malware app will help make sure nobody else can access your social media accounts via your phone, or any other personal information.

In many ways, teaching our children about online and cellphone safety should be as ingrained as teaching them how to safely cross the road — it’s simply part of being a parent in a digital age.

Don’t text and drive

This one really should go without saying by now, but it’s always worth repeating. The best way to ensure your children will never think it’s OK to just “send one text” whilst driving is to simply never do it yourself — and to make sure they are aware of just how high the risks are.

The last thing any parent wants is a teenager with a shiny new driver’s license who thinks it’s OK to text and drive because they watched you do it for years. - Supplied.

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