Smartphone Etiquette – 6 Rules For Teens and Tweens

Smartphone Etiquette Tips For Teens

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When it comes time to hand our kids their first smartphone we’re often so focused on keeping them safe from predators and bullying that we forget to talk to them about basic smartphone etiquette. Our kids are digital natives so we think they’re familiar with how to use their phone. After all, they have been using our devices for years.

But using our phones and tablets to play games and watch videos didn’t teach them how to be a good smartphone user. It taught them other skills, but not many of the skills we take for granted and just assume our kids know. While we’ve had to weave tech into our parenting, there are many “old school” parenting things we’re still responsible to teach.

6 Smartphone Etiquette Rules for Teens & Tweens

  1. How to properly answer a call. Don’t leave! Seriously, we have to teach our kids how to properly answer a call. Remember, when we grew up we had a landline and often raced our siblings or begged our parents to answer the phone. Some of us even created “an adult voice” so we could convince our parents we’d be OK to stay home by ourselves. But we practiced answering the phone – saying hello, being polite, asking for the person to identify themselves. Sure, there’s caller-ID, but what if they don’t recognize the number but they’re expecting you or another family member to call? What if it’s the school or a potential employer? And, yes, I know, chances are kids will let the call go to voice mail, but one day they may get a job where they have to answer a telephone and I’m sure they won’t want to tell their boss they don’t know how.
  2. How to make a phone call. I know, you’re thinking I’ve lost my mind and kids know how to make a phone call. Honestly though, I don’t think so. They text, they don’t call. And if they do call, it’s likely mom or dad they’re calling. Again, we practiced making calls. We’d call the grandparents and leave a message, or we’d call the store to see if something was in stock, or we’d call our friends and have to get past their parents. We did a lot of calling that kids today don’t need to do. That’s why teaching them how to make a proper phone call is so important. First impressions still count!
  3. Respect other people’s privacy. This has many applications, but I’m specifically talking about respecting the privacy of another person if you’re using their phone. While one of the rules most parents have for their kids is not to let their friends use their phone, there may be times when someone has to use their phone or they have to ask a friend to use their phone. Dead batteries happen, so let’s ensure our kids know not to go looking through a friend’s phone. Even more important, if they’re ever in a position that they’re being encouraged by friends to take another kid’s phone and snoop they may be more likely to think twice and not do it. Or, play along until they can tell an adult. But this idea of respecting privacy also means not looking over your shoulder to see what their friends are texting or trying to spy their password or unlock pattern.
  4. Be mindful of other people. It’s great that kids can keep themselves entertained while waiting. However, no one wants to listen to their music, text notifications, sounds from games, or any other sounds your smartphone can make. They can play games and listen to music, but they need to have the device on silent or use headphones.
  5. Do not share private information. Maybe not so much traditional etiquette as it is general rules for having a smartphone, but important enough to include it here. When we were their age we were constantly told not to tell people on the other side of the phone that our parents weren’t home. And while some people have had our address, we weren’t tagged with GPS for the whole world to find us. Of course we need to teach them not to disclose private information on apps or in game chats or on messaging apps. However, our private information is more easily disclosed inadvertently with geotagging, answering basic questions from “friends” (many of whom the kids have never met), or including information in photos (whether purposefully or accidentally). We need to be clear what is and is not private information, so the kids don’t have to wonder.
  6. Don’t interrupt a face-to-face conversation to use your phone. This is the general rule. And yes, there are exceptions – like when mom is calling. Generally, though, if they’re placing their order at the coffee shop, checking out at a store, or having a face-to-face conversation with someone they shouldn’t answer the phone whether it’s a call or text. It may be difficult, so you may need to role play this. While younger people may have more tolerance for this, in situations where you’re buying things it can cause miscommunication or delays that could easily be avoided by giving the situation their full attention.

Overall, I’m sure you’d agree these are pretty basic rules and likely easy for kids to follow. But while they’re easy to follow rules, some will require practice (and patience). For the most part though, even though they may not be intuitive for teens and tweens, I think kids will find them helpful. What do you think? Should there be other rules?

Smartphone Etiquette for Teens and Tweens

Photo Credit for top image.
Photo Credit for bottom image.

Sara

End of Summer Pool and Spa Care – For Less Work Next Season

This is a sponsored conversation on behalf of Clorox Pool & Spa to encourage us to make the most of the last days of summer.

When I was a kid, Labor Day weekend was kind of the last hurrah of summer. We’d hang out by the pool and laugh, eat way too much food, and spend a lot of time yelling “Mom, watch this!” as we did some crazy jump into the pool. Lots of good memories!

After Labor Day, though, we spent less time in the pool as the nights grew colder and the days shorter. There may have been a weekend or two we’d try to get in a last shot of summer, but for the most part pool time was over. Toward the end of September I’d go to the pool store with my mom and get the few things we’d need to close up the pool until the next spring. I remember following a checklist very carefully because one year we didn’t close our pool right and it was a huge mess when we uncovered it at the first sign of pool weather the next season.

Friends back east are starting to talk about fall and cooler temperatures. There’s less “let’s hang out by the pool” and more “can’t wait to get the fire pit going”. So even though we don’t have a pool, we’ll be marking the end of summer as the temperatures begin to get cooler. Closing your pool doesn’t have to be daunting. Here’s a checklist, which includes the Clorox® Pool&Spa™ Shock XtraBlue™ product to get you started.

Pool Closing Checklist:

  • Check for algae and brush all pool surfaces
  • Remove debris from water and skimmer baskets
  • Test and balance water
  • Adjust Free Chlorine to the high end of 1-4 ppm
  • Check and clean your filter
  • Shock the water and let it circulate at least 6 hours using the Clorox® Pool&Spa™ Shock XtraBlue® product
  • Apply an algaecide to prevent algae growth
  • Shut down equipment per owner’s manual, this may include a partial water drain
  • Cover your pool if desired

Following these closing tips will keep you covered for the season and the benefits of the Clorox® Pool&Spa™ Shock XtraBlue® product is added security.

The Shock XtraBlue® product is a 6 in 1 shock with algae-killing crystals that does the following:

  • Kills and controls green, black and mustard algae
  • Kills bacteria
  • Clears cloudy water and removes swimmer contaminants (body oils, sweat and lotions)
  • Reduces chlorine odor
  • Improves filter performance
  • Won’t impact pH

This product is quick and convenient and available in an easy-open, easy pour resealable bottle, which makes it safe for households and easy to store.

 

Sara

No One Wants The Nickname Dragon Breath

Disclosure: I received several products from Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. and The Motherhood as part of my participation in this LISTERINE®” education program. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post, unless noted, are my own.

Parenting a tween or teen has many challenges. I spend quite a bit of time asking the same questions over and over. I know I’m not alone in this, too. It starts early with the reminders to wash hands, turn off lights, close doors.

You’d think by time they’re 10 or 11 they’d get tired of hearing us ask them these questions. But, the mind of a tween and young teen is so busy with other things the mundane and routine often gets overlooked. And at the same time their concern for how they look starts to take on more importance.

My interest in oral hygiene began early with routine visits to the dentist, followed by braces, and over a decade wearing a retainer. Over the years I’ve met many people who don’t like to smile or hide their smile because they don’t like their teeth. I get that not everyone can get their teeth fixed. But, what shocked me were the results of the May 2015 “The Social Impact of Poor Oral Health” survey conducted by LISTERINE Brands on the social implications of poor oral health. I figured that poor oral hygiene has implications on a person’s overall health and that it could affect other aspects of their lives. But, the extent to which poor oral hygiene can impact not only general health and hygiene, but career and relationships made me realize my diligence for myself was a good thing and that all those ‘did you brush your teeth’ questions are important.

I remember seeing movies with British characters and there were always jokes about how bad their teeth were because they’re British. Maybe in that context it’s funny. But the reality is that more than 7 in 10 Americans believe having an unhealthy mouth can negatively impact one’s confidence giving a speech (75%), and more than 6 in 10 believe it can affect a person’s willingness to speak in a meeting (64%), and their ability to lead a meeting (61%)*. Add to that similar statistics about relationship success, smiling, kissing, or being close to someone when talking and it’s easy to understand why it’s so important to instill good oral care habits in our kids.

While we shouldn’t judge people on their oral hygiene, the truth is we do. If you’re in a job that has a great deal of face to face engagement, you can’t help but be aware of the other person’s teeth and breath. This goes way beyond the garlic chicken at lunch or the broccoli stuck between the teeth. Daily we make judgements about people based on their teeth and breath. And we do this to kids as well as adults.

Today it could be reputation suicide if a middle or high schooler took a toothbrush to school, but back when I was a teen I packed a toothbrush and religiously brushed my teeth after lunch. Even back then I knew I didn’t want to be that kid with bad breath or food stuck in her braces. The social implications were very real back in the 80s.

Years ago, CycleGuy worked with one of the leading Periodontists in the country. I learned so much about the importance of good oral hygiene as we age. Oral health impacts the foods we can eat, our nutrition, and our weight and health. Many of us take this for granted because we brush and floss daily. But for those who don’t, it’s not just the bad breath or the discolored teeth. And while some dental issues are genetic, it’s all those times we were asked ‘Did you brush your teeth?’ and ‘Did you floss?’ that help us throughout our adult life.

So while my daughter rolls her eyes at me when I ask, I’ll continue to ask if she’s brushed her teeth and flossed. I’ll continue our family’s check-up schedule and we’ll keep using our Listerine Brand mouth rinse. BabyGirl began her dentist visits when she was about 6 months old. Sure, she was there because I was. But the dentist took a peek at her tiny tooth peeking through and encouraged me to keep wiping her gums and then begin brushing her lone tooth once it came in. She’s never been afraid of the dentist. We shouldn’t be afraid of the dentist.

Starting good oral care habits early make it easier as the kids get older. We always have an array of toothbrushes on hand because a worn out toothbrush is quite harmful to the teeth and gums. I buy Listerine mouth rinse in different flavors so we don’t get bored and forget to use it. And I have a number of different types of dental floss because we all have our favorites. Why? Because brushing alone misses 75% of your mouth.

If you’re interested in learning more or want to share your parenting success with getting your kids to brush and floss, I’ll be participating with the Motherhood and LISTERINE Brand in a 1-hour Twitter party on Tuesday, October 27th at 12 p.m. ET (9 a.m. PT). During the party, we’ll discuss the social and health impact of oral health care.

LISTERINE Brand is committed to promoting healthy oral care habits.  That’s why the brand is partnering with Oral Health America, whose FALL FOR SMILES campaign educates the public about the positive impact good oral health can have on overall health and well-being. Oral Health America’s mission is so important to LISTERINE that the brand will be pledging $20K to support their work. We hope this inspires you to join them and help double the donation. During the Twitter party, use #LISTERINEgives to trigger a $10 donation from the LISTERINE Brand to Oral Health America (for a maximum donation of $40,000).

I hope you’ll join me in making a difference for our families and others. Because we all have a lot to smile about!

 

* LISTERINE Brand’s “The Social Impact of Poor Oral Health” Survey, GFK, May 2015

 

Sara

Is There Such A Thing As 80s Remorse? #SwitchersRemorse

Switchers Remorse

Disclosure: As part of the Verizon Influencer team I have been compensated to share with you a situation in my life where I made a decision I later changed or wish I had. Because, really, who among us hasn’t had at least one of these?

Have you ever listened to Snap Judgement? It’s a show on NPR and I love it. It’s addicting (fair warning)! Mainly because I think the stories are so different than anything I would do. It’s stories of people who make decisions that take them down a path they never imagined. It’s so fascinating, and usually throughout the entire show I’m on edge and my heart is racing.

I’m not a seat-of-the-pants decider, but I know how to make a quick decision. I’ve had my fair share of times when I’ve over analyzed or have gotten into that “analysis paralysis” mode and have made decisions I regret as soon as the words come out of my mouth. That being said, I will never have a story on Snap Judgement. Ever! Really, those stories are just that weird. Anyway, …

When I look back, I don’t have many regrets for the decisions I’ve made. That’s probably because I was raised to make informed decisions and believe I made the right choice. My grandfather was a missile instructor. Making the wrong choice when you launch a missile can have grave consequences. And since I lived with my grandparents, my grandfather had a lot of influence in my formative years.

The interesting part is that he believed you can correct course on most decisions when it came to life. And that’s what I was taught. Few decisions in life are fatal and those that are require serious attention. I’m a “serious attention” person for almost all the decisions I make. Although I can make quick decisions, I don’t make them without consulting as much information as I can within the time I have.

There are a few decisions I’ve made that I regret, but there are a few I wish I would have done differently. Fortunately, most are pretty low-level. But still, let’s take a look at a few decisions gone wrong. And don’t say you can’t relate.

SFH 1990Totally 80’s hair – Probably the best decade for hair. Unfortunately, some of us kept it well past its prime.

Shoulder pads – Melanie Griffith in Working Girl I was not. But I loved that “put together ” look. Looking back, I was probably a big ol’ “fashion don’t”.

Blue eye shadow – make that cheap blue eye shadow. Although it’s starting to make a comeback, no one ever really needed opalescent powder blue eye shadow.

Bonfire in the desert – maybe your high school wasn’t near a desert so you don’t know about these, but in parts of Texas they’re pretty popular. And by popular I mean a place for doing things you know you shouldn’t but you’re in high school so you know more than everyone else. Thank goodness there was no social media back then.

SFH 1987Hideous prom dresses – what were we thinking? These were more confections than clothing. No wonder there are websites now that totally mock our 80s clothing choices. Just wait, though, they’ll come back in style. Mark my word!

The Brick Phone – Please don’t make me feel old by saying you don’t know what I mean. First mobile phone, my friend. OK, I didn’t have enough money to afford one so I had the lame cousin of The Brick Phone, The Bag Phone. Yep, mobile phone in a leatherette bag. As if I was some undercover agent or something. I probably still had the 80’s hair and thought I was totally stylin’.

People who don’t understand distance – I’m serious with this one. The first month of college I needed to go to Target. I couldn’t get a ride so I figured I could walk there. I asked a few people who said it was “not far”. So I set out. About an hour later I stopped in a store along the way, and asked where the Target was. “Just up the road a few blocks” is what I was told. Liars! They’re all liars! If I was in a car I’d have been there in 20 minutes. But I was being transported by two size 8s and that darn Target store was like 5 miles away. And so now I rarely ask people for directions (thanks GPS!), because I walked 10-freakin’ miles for a stupid laundry basket and other random junk I likely didn’t need. Could I have turned back at any time? Sure. But the call of Target was strong! Not far, huh?

Volunteer MugHalf the times I’ve said “yes” to volunteering – Ugh! When people ask me if I’ll volunteer for things because I can’t say no. I grew up in a house where service to others and volunteering were part of the fabric of our lives. It’s so ingrained in me, it’s taken me until recently to actually say “no” or ask if I can get back to them. I’ve said yes to standing in sweltering heat handing out water bottles to band kids, of which I had none. I’ve said yes to getting up when it’s still night-time to help set up, and then when other people didn’t show I stayed despite being so tired. And while I always had a positive outlook and did my best, after a while I just started to feel like I was being asked because they knew it was more of a rhetorical question. But then my friend staged an intervention and gave me this mug.  Which I love!

Hitting send – I think we all have a story about hitting send when we shouldn’t have. Whether it’s work-related or personal, there really needs to be an “undo” button on anything we can send. In my younger years, it wasn’t all that much an issue because you had to schlep yourself to the post office and that time gave you an opportunity to think about all that would go wrong. But these days it’s so easy to be “keepin’ it real”. But “keepin’ it real” does go wrong. And while my moment of regret when I hit send wasn’t all that bad, it did require a meeting with one of the firm’s partners and an apology letter to a client. Which I why I never participate in those stupid forward-this-to-5-people-and-Bill-Gates-will-send-you-$5 million schemes. And why Snopes is one of my favorite websites.

I’m sure you have decisions you regret. Hopefully they’re nothing major and you were able to change course pretty easily. Or, at least, learn from them.

If you switched away from Verizon and are regretting it, don’t worry. They’re making it easy for customers to come back. For more information, head over to your local Verizon store and tell them you have #SwitchersRemorse.

Sara

5 Ways To Help Protect Your Identity When You Travel

Ways To Protect Identity

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for LifeLock.

Just 10 years ago, if you headed out-of-town for work or vacation only a few people knew. Today, it’s likely most of your co-workers, friends, and family know everything about your trip. Unfortunately, it’s also very likely many strangers do too. And while it may not be intentional, we exchange so much information online in general conversation that we forget there may be others “listening”.

In addition to the time-honored tips our grandparents passed down – stop the newspaper and mail service, let a trusted neighbor know you’ll be out-of-town and to keep an eye on your place, and get some timers for the lights – there are many other ways to keep your personal information safe while traveling. It’s no longer just a matter of someone physically breaking in to your home that we need to be concerned with. Each year millions of people experience some sort of data breach related to mobile, online, or credit card use.

Whether you are heading out-of-town for work or play, by plane or car, add these 5 tips to your travel checklist and gain some peace of mind.

Check your social network settings

Of course you want to share updates about your life with your close friends and family. But social networks can change settings without you knowing. Before going out-of-town, double-check your settings to make sure you have the privacy you are expecting. It’s also a good time to talk to your kids, if you have them, about what they should and should not be sharing.

Find your phone

Almost every mobile phone platform and provider offers some type of app to track your phone or shut down your phone if it’s lost. Don’t make it easy for anyone to gain access to your private information and stored passwords. Before you go is a good time to look over what is needed if your phone is lost or stolen, especially if you are going out of the country.

Be aware of unsecured WiFi

Free wifi often sounds like a good deal. And, for the most part it is. But unsecured internet connections at hotels, museums, airports, or other public spots can be a way for unscrupulous people to gain access to your data, passwords, or other private information.

Safeguard your credit cards and identification

It’s tempting to just leave your wallet or purse in the drawer as you head down to the pool, but use the hotel safe. It’s easy to leave your credit card on file at the hotel or bar, but always ask if you can just charge it to your room or pay as you go. It’s more convenient to throw your wallet in the little bin at the airport security checkpoint and send it through the scanner, but keep it in your larger bag if you can. Know where your ID and credit cards are at all times.

Turn off your home wi-fi

While it’s not always possible to turn off your home wi-fi due to alarm connectivity or having a house sitter, if there is no reason to keep your wi-fi active then turn it off. It’s one less access point to your information. If you must keep it connected, make sure you are using a very strong password and, if possible, hide the connection so it’s not visible to anyone with a wi-fi enabled device.

Identity theft is a top consumer threat that targets people of all ages. There are ways to monitor your identity, depending on your level of need. The LifeLock Site offers many resources to help you determine how to best safeguard your identity as well as providing educational tools to teach your children about keeping their information secure.

Stolen Identity BookIf you’re more of a book reader or want to share information about protecting oneself against identity theft, Stolen Identity: What Anyone with a Name, Birthdate and Social Security Number Needs to Know Now is an excellent resource.

If monitoring your accounts is something you’d like to learn more about, visit the LifeLock Site and compare their product offerings. LifeLock Junior is specifically designed for advanced monitoring of your child’s personal information. If you decide identity theft protection services are for you, visit the LifeLock Site and use LIFELOCKSAFETY for a 10% discount. Identity theft can happen to anyone at any time. Learn how to protect yourself and your family, especially while you’re out working hard and enjoying life!

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Disclosure: This is a compensated conversation on behalf of LifeLock. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sara

{Sponsored Video} We Don’t Whisper “Cancer” Any More

American Cancer Society image

I believe our generation may be the first where most everyone has a story about cancer. When the American Cancer Society approached me to share about how cancer has affected me or someone in my life I said yes and have been trying to figure out who and what to write about because there are so many stories. And while I have been tossing around this post for weeks, with my new business relationship to help the American Cancer Society celebrate its 100th birthday this has become a sponsored post, although it’s the same post I was planning on writing before they asked me to share.

If I were to ask you to tell me a story about how cancer has touched you or someone you know, I doubt you’d have to think too long before sharing. I’ve mentioned before that my grandma is a three-time cancer survivor. I paid tribute to my friend Sally who lost her life to pancreatic cancer. I’ve mentioned my annual mammogram party. I met one of my dearest friends, Carrie, when she was on leave from her job to undergo chemotherapy. And most recently one of my clients shared that she will be undergoing reconstructive surgery due to breast cancer. I bet you could easily come up with four or five stories of your own.

On May 22nd the American Cancer Society turns 100 years old. It’s because of this organization that we no longer whisper “cancer”. When I was growing up, no one dare speak the word above a whisper. And definitely not in mixed company. I believe it was this belief that kept me from knowing my mother had cancer. Why else would she have been seeing an oncologist? It wasn’t until after she died when going through her medical bills that I saw that word “oncologist”.

Today, we see everyday men and women chronicle their stories online. We see parents take to websites and social media to share about their child who has cancer. We don’t whisper it. We hashtag it, we write it in ALL CAPS on Facebook, and we tell people about surviving cancer. Soon there will be a generation who will never have had to whisper “cancer”. This generation won’t have the effects of second-hand smoke because the American Cancer Society lobbied congress to more closely regulate cigarettes and smoking. Our children may not face some of the same risks of cancer because the American Cancer Society is funding research that may hold the key to unlocking what is needed to eradicate certain types of cancer.

I look at photos on Facebook from my friend who’ll be celebrating her 1st wedding anniversary soon. She just had a birthday. Two things many of us take for granted. But despite cancer, and the various effects it’s had on her, she’s here. And she’s doing amazing things and enjoying life.

About 5 years ago I received a frantic call that I needed to hurry to my Grandma’s side because she may not pull through her surgery. At 87 she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She refused chemo and radiation. There were complications with her surgery and when I arrived at the hospital I was told to prepare for the worst. Little did they realize who they were talking about. I believe my Grandma takes this “more birthday” thing seriously. She watches a lot of TV and I’m sure has seen the ads for the American Cancer Society talking about beating cancer and having more birthdays. Since her first cancer diagnosis she’s had about 20 more birthdays.

My friend Sally got to have 2 birthday after her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. That’s huge! But most importantly, she was there to see her only child turn 9. It wasn’t just about her birthday. She knew she wouldn’t see her son grow up, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t going to get one more birthday with him.

In the past decade we’ve come to realize that silence won’t eradicate cancer. We’ve decided that talking openly about cancer is the only way to get our friends and family to get screenings, to do self-checks, and to take action to support cancer research.

100 years ago a few physicians and business leaders decided to give cancer a voice and created the American Cancer Society. Silence won’t cure cancer. Each of us fights cancer in our own way. Together we can finish the fight!

Disclosure: As mentioned above, this is a sponsored post and I have been provided compensation by the American Cancer Society. All thoughts and opinions are mine, and may not reflect the views of the organization. My thoughts and opinions were not influenced by this compensation. This article was not reviewed or edited by a third-party. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Why do I put these disclosures in my posts? Besides being a lawyer and writing about this stuff, they’re required by consumer protection laws and you deserve to know.

Image and video courtesy of the American Cancer Society. Used with permission.

Sara