I decided to write this blog because we seem to be ignoring some important statistics when it comes to cell phones and young children. According to the Yankee Group (2006) survey by 2010 54% of tweens ages 8-12 will have a cell phone. Additionally many phone companies such as Leapfrog are creating "starter phones" for younger kids with parent controls. We often wait until kids have cell phones before we start talking with them (if we talk to them??) about appropriate and inappropriate etiquette and safety. I propose that we be more proactive and start before they get a cell phone, similar to driving a car (we learn the rules of the road before we start driving) or playing a game (we read the instructions before we start playing). Below are some tips I have collected for parents or teachers to start proactive early intervention cell phone etiquette and safety tips. Please comment and add your own!
1) Help children understand the “cost” of a cell phone.
Go over your cell phone plan with your children, so they understand the costs associated with using the tool. Such as “every time mom sends a text message it costs mom .10 cents”. Parents could even have a “text message” piggy bank jar where they put in a dime every time they help their children send a text message so kids can see the relationship between a text message and the cost associated. To help them understand costs of calling and overcharges on “minutes.” Parents can give their children a certain number of minutes that they can use the cell phone each day or week (such as five minutes or ten minutes), and if the kids want to use it more, than they have to give the parents a few cents or do a chore.
2) Talk about when it is appropriate and inappropriate to make and answer calls or text message.
Together with their kids parents can create a “rules” chart as to where or when the kids (and parents!) are allowed to make calls and send text messages. For example it could say,
“You may only call and text message people you know and that are approved by mom or dad”
“You may not make calls or text message or answer them during meal times.”
“You may call and answer calls between 8:00am and 8:00pm."
“You may not call or answer calls when you are in a public place and it may disturb others around you. This includes a movie theater, a library, or church.”
“You should always get mom or dad’s approval before sending a picture or video of yourself, a friend, or family member to someone else.”
* Also, Parents should make sure they also talk about the reasons “why” calls or text messages should not be made during those time. Such as "you might wake someone up if you call late."
3) Talk with children about how they speak or text message on the cell phone.
Once again it would be a good idea to create a "rules" list with children. Some ideas might include:
“No need to speak loudly”
“Be aware that other people around you can hear your conversation, so be careful what information you are giving out in the conversation (such as a home address or even your name).”
“You should not text message or call someone when you are in the middle of a conversation with someone else.”
*Once again, make sure parents should also talk about the reasons “why” kids should or should not speak or text message that way on the cell phone. Such as "it is polite to pay full attention to the person who is speaking to you."
These ideas are a starting point, and I hope that we all can continue this conversation and come up with a reasonable list of how to educate younger children on cell phone safety and etiquette.
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Cell Phones in Learning by Liz Kolb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at cellphoneseinlearning.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cellphonesinlearning.com.