When most of us were kids, answering the phone during dinner was frowned upon. What rules have you established for your children’s cell phone habits?

05.6.10


Oh I’d forgotten that, and remember how rude it was considered to call someone during the dinner hour. We don’t have devices at the table. Even though my son doesn’t have a cell phone yet, he’d be just as likely to bring his iTouch to the table if he thought he could get away with it.

My daughter is eleven and she’s aware that her cell phone is only technically hers. I read all incoming and outgoing text messages, and she knew when we bought it that would be the deal. We’re teaching our kids that everything you write, in every venue should be considered public, and your Mom should be comfortable reading it.

We’re working on the manners, you know what I’m talking about; not using the phone in the middle of the grocery store, no loud talking… the subtleties. I often remind the kids that I’m not trying to punish them, I’m helping them learn something new.



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20 responses to “When most of us were kids, answering the phone during dinner was frowned upon. What rules have you established for your children’s cell phone habits?”

  1. jim vh says:

    Well, I think my 18 month old is a little young for me to be limiting her “princess phone” access :).

  2. Rob Frankel says:

    Phone Rules
    1. No texting til college. For real. Texting destroys communication skills.
    2. Always use an ear piece – no blue tooth, no holding the phone to your head. Too much brain/jaw cancer and not enough evidence to risk it.
    3. If you’re old enough to have a phone, you’re responsible enough to always leave the house with it — fully charged.
    4. You lose it, you pay for it.
    5. If you’re going to be late, call. You have no excuse now…..

    • That’s so funny, I love the texting because I can see the conversations. I didn’t really think about communication skills since my kids are younger than yours.

      I love #’s 3-5… LOVE them.

      • David G says:

        Way to lay down the law Rob. I’m a huge fan of that list – and #4 applies to all aspects of life. My two year old is going to be hearing that one a lot.

  3. cassie says:

    Such a great conversation. When I was in high-school cell phones were VERY new. I had no rules concerning their use. I am not sure that parents were aware that there should be rules. I love that we are seeing the issues and finding solutions.

    My mother would not have considered that my phone would die and I would be unavailable. We didn’t a a society talk about texting and how it effects communication skills. All of the issues that technology brings and how we discover and think about it is fascinating. Just fascinating.

    This total comment proves I’m a dork.

  4. Jack says:

    We have no cellphone rules because my kids don’t have one. If I have my way that won’t change until after their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. However, there are no electronic devices at the table- I am the sole exception as my business isn’t confined to the U.S., international time zones sometimes influence things.

    Rob’s point about communication skills is very important. It drives me crazy to read memos from professionals that look like: “Dear Jack, We R happy u called us. Tnx”

    I have received more than a few of those. My children are going to learn how to write properly. After they learn the rules they can decide whether to use or not use them.

  5. Cathy says:

    Great topic! Our rules are definitely no phones (or running to answer a call if your phone rings) at the dinner table. Also, my son is 11 and is not allowed to text at all. He is really good at following the rules…..so far!
    I think the biggest thing is that kids need to realize this is a privilege, not a right. My son has heard me say many times that at his age I was lucky to have a quarter for the pay phone to make a call. Or was it 20 cents? His reaction: Mom, what’s a pay phone?

  6. EE says:

    At least turn off the ringer during family dinner. That seems fair enough!

  7. David G says:

    Funny – I’ve thought about this a lot. My dad used to have that rule at home – no phones during dinner. Mostly because we’d always seem to get hit with telemarketing calls at that time (they’re so crafty). I think family time is important, and dinner for an hour a night should be uninterrupted. I will definitely carry on the torch of my father (minus the mustache) – NO PHONES AT DINNER!

  8. pammy pam says:

    no phone at the table. at home or out. you can have it in your pocket/purse but DO NOT text or answer the phone.

  9. I don’t have any cell phone rules for my 2 youngest yet b/c they don’t have cell phones. They are only 9 & 10 and I don’t see them having one anytime in the near future. I will probably think about getting them one when they turn 13 or 14.

  10. Lynna says:

    My cousin just turned 12 and got her first cell phone. I’m a little wary even though she’s a good kid. Kids definitely don’t need to talk/text during family time, which is a little hard when adults are doing it. I think setting up the ground rules for manners and privacy is important. This definitely reminds me that I need to have a talk with her.

  11. Lisa says:

    My daughter is 10 and we haven’t gotten her a cell phone, yet. I know it’s only a matter of time before she begs for one (she’s only asked once). Seriously though, I won’t be getting a text plan. I know I’m in the minority here, but I feel until she’s old enough to help PAY for the riduculous monthly charges by getting a part time job, in the meantime a pre-paid cell will work just fine :-)

  12. Fric and Frac are almost 14 and 13 and I refuse to allow them to have cell phones. I don’t think they need them at this age and I stand firm on that.

    Now get off my damn lawn.

  13. Rob Frankel says:

    FWIW, we live in Los Angeles, where there are no public school buses and placing your kids in the right schools means carpools — and carpool drivers who sometimes forget it’s their turn to drive. We gave our kids cell phones in middle school primarily for those occasions — which happened more than once. Glad we did.

  14. livi says:

    My children don’t have cell phones. They have actual conversations with real people . That’s how we learn real manners.

  15. I think answering during a casual meal at home on the sofa isn't rude, but answering during something that is important or has been well prepared for is very rude.

  16. Tee hee phil.

    There are no meals on sofas in my house. I swear my head would up and
    spin right off my shoulders, but I'm working on it

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