Mind Your (Mobile) Manners

Kathy Buckworth

 “The invention of the teenager was a mistake. Once you identify a period of life in which people get to stay out late but don’t have to pay taxes – naturally, no one wants to live any other way.” ― Judith Martin

This quote, from Judith Martin, better known as “Miss Manners” exemplifies the best parts of living like a teenager. But when I was a teenager, which was after cave drawings but before the invention of the fax machine, I was never told by my parents to “Look up from that screen!”. Simply because the only screens that existed were the ones that protected us from being entirely consumed by mosquitoes, given that I grew up in Winnipeg.

While manners simply never go out of fashion, social situations change with each generation. You should still never talk while you’re eating, or lick your knife, and always say please and thank you, but “Mobile Manners” are something that my generation of parenting is having to enforce while never having had to adhere to it as a child, particularly as a teenager.

Reading texts while Mom is talking is the new blank expression. Furiously typing texts while Dad is disciplining is the new eye rolling. So how do we teach our kids what is socially acceptable in the world of smartphones, when we are treading through these landmines ourselves?

Until the passing of Texting and Driving legislation, many parents could be found talking, texting and being generally distracted, something that our young kids observed. I myself used to refer to traffic lights as BlackBerry Pitstops.

A recent PC mobile poll conducted by Leger Marketing shows that we are still not modeling perfect behavior in front of our children, even though smartphones have been around for quite a while, and common sense and legislation tell us to change. 22% of us have typed or texted while driving, 30% of us text or talk while walking, and 37% of us have used our phones in the bathroom.

While using a phone in the bathroom isn’t technically dangerous, it is of course extremely unhygienic…and more than a little off-putting. Texting and driving is extremely dangerous, and doing it in front of your teenager doubles the danger, as they see our behavior as normal and potentially mimic it when they start driving. As much as they don’t want to be like us, as we didn’t want to be like our boring old parents, they develop their values and norms by watching us.

Take advantage of having a teen in the car to make them your Designated Texter or Talker if you need to communicate while on the road. But don’t let them take it into the bathroom at the gas station…

That’s just good manners.

Kathy BuckworthKathy Buckworth is the author of six books, including “The BlackBerry Diaries: Adventures in Modern Motherhood”. Follow Kathy on Twitter @KathyBuckworth

Written By

Kathy Buckworth is an award winning writer, public speaker, and television personality. She is the author of six books, including “I Am So The Boss of You: An 8 Step Guide to Giving Your Family The Business” (Random House). Warner Brothers Television has purchased the rights for this book. Her books have been translated into Chinese, Indonesian and other languages, and are available on Audible.com and wherever books are sold. She is a columnist with Post City Magazines and contributes to the Metro News, Autofocus.ca, the Huffington Post, Zoomer Magazine, ParentsCanada, Canadian Living, the Travel Channel and GoodLife. She is the writer and host of the FamilyFocus series, and was a regular guest expert on CBC’s Steven and Chris, a regular contributor to the CTV Canada AM Parenting Panel, as well as appearing regularly on Breakfast Television, CanadaAM and CBC radio. She also delivers a bi-monthly travel segment (How She Travels) on Sirius/XM Canada Talks highly rated “What She Said” show. Kathy is a two time winner of the Professional Writers Association of Canada Award for Excellence in Humour, and is the recipient of the Mississauga Arts Award for Established Literary Arts. She was recently announced as one of Canada’s Favourite Moms by Canadian Living Magazine, and recognized by the Huffington Post as a top parenting Tweeter to follow. She has over 18 years of corporate marketing experience, with CIBC, Royal Bank, Telus and Coca Cola Foods. She is the Chief Family Advisor for Presidents Choice Financial and PCPlus, and has also acted as corporate/media spokesperson/social media consultant for many other companies such as Procter & Gamble, Maple Leaf Foods, Research In Motion, Pfizer and LeapFrog Toys. Kathy serves on the board of the Toronto Symphony Volunteer Committee, as their public relations advisor. She lives with her material (four kids) and husband (more material) in the Toronto area. She is a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada, the Writers Union of Canada, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Travel Media Association of Canada.

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