Talking to Your Teens About Tech Etiquette

They learn from you, so be on your best behavior.
They learn from you, so be on your best behavior.

For many adults, there's nothing more pleasant than a well-mannered teenager, and nothing much more embarrassing for a parent than a teen who doesn't know the meaning of "please" and "thank you." Teaching your children manners and etiquette is an important part of raising a successful adult, and these days, parents need to add technology etiquette to the list, too. Each device has its own set of etiquette rules, so it's advisable to cover them all. It's almost a certainty that your teens are using any and all technology available to them.

The first, and possibly most important step in teaching your teen proper tech etiquette is to make sure you practice it yourself. Like anything, the guidelines you put in place will fall on deaf ears if you aren't sticking to them yourself. The old days of "do as I say and not as I do" doesn't really fly anymore with today's savvy teen. It's up to you to set the rules and provide the examples for your teens -- from when to take cell phones calls and respond to texts and e-mails, to what kinds of things to share on e-mail and social media. Read on for important tech etiquette refreshers that will be helpful for your entire household.


Tech Etiquette Tips

Your teen probably has a cell phone and is likely an avid texter, so this is a good place to start your tech etiquette talk. Teach him or her that when you're in a public place, stepping outside to take a phone call is usually a good idea. If you're in the grocery store and you have to exchange some quick information, that's generally considered OK, but chatting away about anything and everything in smaller, more confined places is rude. We're talking restaurants, small shops, bookstores, elevators and any other place where everyone else can easily hear your conversation.

When it comes to texting, it's a quiet affair so you can get away with it in close quarters. But teach your teens that the phone should go in your pocket when you're engaged in a conversation with someone. Nothing can make a person feel insignificant like staring at the top of someone else's head while he or she is buried in a cell phone. A good rule of thumb to follow is if you wouldn't pull out a crossword puzzle and do it in front of someone, don't pull out your phone. Teach your teen patience, and that the text or e-mail can wait. And if it can't wait, then teach him or her that it's OK to politely excuse yourself to deal with anything that needs your immediate attention.


As for e-mail, it's important to teach your kids the etiquette of sending out links. The rule of thumb here is to never send more than two links to anyone in any given day no matter how cute the kitten in the link is. Another key for sending links is to know your audience. Teach your kids to be respectful of other points of view, and not to send controversial links to simply stir the pot. If your teen is sending out information he or she believes to be important, make sure he or she understands the concept of fact checking the link first.

Related Articles


  • Buckleitner, Warren. "Cellphone Etiquette for Kids.", July 21, 2009.
  • "Manners for personal mobile devices, texting, email, social networking and more." March 2, 2012.
  • Tahnke, Jeana Lee. "Are You Demonstrating Proper Technology Etiquette to Your Kids?", March 3, 2011.
  • "Tech Etiquette: Sharing Links With Your Friends And Loved Ones.", January 12, 2012.
  • "Texting and Talking Dos and Don'ts: Teaching Technology Etiquette to Kids.", May 10, 2010.