Pre-Teen Cell Phone Etiquette: Knowing What is Okay, and What is Not.

Pre-Teen Cell Phone Etiquette: Knowing What is Okay, and What is Not.
04 Jan 2019

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Etiquette seems to be a lost skill, especially when it comes to cell phone usage. So many people walk around with their heads down looking at their phone these days, they miss great sites on road trips, and engaging in conversations with people around them.

Last year, we added Rachel to our Rogers Share Everything Plan. One of the things we initially talked to her about was making sure she was using her smartphone at appropriate times, and using it responsibly. But that can be interpreted in so many ways, especially to a 14 year old. So this month, we furthered the conversation by talking about cell phone etiquette.

cell phone etiquette outside with phone

What is cell phone etiquette?

Walking around with your head down in your phone, and missing out on everything is more than just a pet peeve… it’s bad cell phone etiquette. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

So how do we teach our kids about cell phone etiquette? When we sat down and talked to Rachel, Wendy and I related to real life situations and basic etiquette that we were brought up on.

cell phone etiquette rachel on phone

Cell Phone Etiquette 101

Here is a list of cell phone etiquette tips that Wendy and I came up with, to help Rachel:

Be personable.

When you are in a crowd or family or friends, put your phone away. Unless you are taking a picture with them, showing them something you did at school or a cool picture you took, or inputting their new contact information, there is no need to pull out your phone in this scenario.

Keep it private.

The person close to you on the transit bus could be anybody. Revealing information that could pinpoint where you live, where you are going, what school you go to, where you like to hang out etc… this information in the wrong hands can be dangerous.

Keep your voice down.

No one around you wants to hear what guy likes you, or what you had for lunch that day.

cell phone etiquette in class

Put your phone away in class.

No teacher wants you sitting there texting your friends while they are trying to teach. Unless of course they allow you to use it as a means to look things up, in which case, use it for that reason only.

Take a bathroom break.

The home or school bathroom is no place for your smartphone. You go in there for one purpose. I’ll leave it at that.

Your screen doesn’t always have to be bright.

Reducing the brightness of your screen when in different situations doesn’t only preserve battery life, it also limits what others can see on your screen when close to you.

Adjust your cell phone speak depending on your audience.

Sending poop emojis to your best friend may be okay, but sending one to your parents probably won’t fly. Be cognizant of who you are speaking to, what you are sending them, and the message you could be sending by what you are communicating.

Selfies are okay, if done right.

Want to take a picture of yourself or you and a friend? Go for it. Just make sure that you are dressed appropriately. You never want an inappropriate picture to show up in a Google search of the employer who is searching your name before a job interview.

Protect your phone.

Always have your phone password protected. With all of the social media accounts you likely are signed into on your phone, the last thing you want is for someone to pick up the phone you left on your desk, and Snapchat something inappropriate that they may think is a joke, but could be harmful to you.

cell phone etiquette using phone

Don’t text and walk.

Too many people have walked into hydro poles, or water fountains at malls. You’ll understand distractions a lot more when you get behind the wheel of a car. Your actions could go from being funny, to potentially being fatal.

Exercise caution.

If someone calls you and says “who is this?”, be careful. If you do not know who it is, ask them who is calling. If you do not know them, say that they have the wrong number and hang up. Someone you know should not be calling and asking who they are talking to… they called you; they should know.

Be respectful.

You are in the middle of a great conversation, and the phone rings. Do you pick it up? No. Let it go to voicemail, and call / text them later. Give the person who you were talking to first your undivided attention.

Quiet zones are there for a reason.

Nothing is worse than being on the GO Train quiet zone, and there is someone close to you having a very loud conversation on their phone. Don’t be that person.

Don’t put me on speakerphone without telling me.

If you choose to put someone on speakerphone, let the person know. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it could affect the content of the conversation.

The dinner table is no place for a phone.

Dinner time is family time. Keep your phone in your pocket, or away from the table. Concentrate on eating, and having a great conversation with your family.

cell phone etiquette friends

Share your cell phone number wisely.

Only give your information to people you know. Unlike home phones, cell phone numbers are not publicly listed. Only people you give your number to will have them.

Concentrate in a lineup.

Give the teller or clerk your undivided attention. It’s very difficult to concentrate and ask questions of someone, when they are on the phone.

Turn your phone off in cinemas or theatres.

No one wants to be bothered in the middle of a movie by a loud ring. Listen to the warnings in the movie intro, and turn off your cell phone.

Text or Call? Know the difference.

Some conversations can be had via text. However, know when you need to pick up the phone and talk to that person. It is very tough to judge a person’s tone in a text.

Don’t hide behind your phone.

Don’t put anything in a text message that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face. You need to be polite and respectful, and talk or text to people the way that you would want to be spoken to.

cell phone etiquette communication

Communication is key

By no means is this a complete list, and we will be adding to it on demand. By keeping the conversation going with Rachel about cell phone etiquette, we can help her recognize situations where cell phone use is okay, and when it is not.

Wendy and I are trying to bring up good humans. Having them know what behaviour is appropriate is important. Recognizing what is inappropriate is equally as important.

Big Daddy

If you would like me to review your product, service, restaurant, or travel destination, please send me an email at or tweet me at @BigDaddyKreativ

Craig Silva

Craig is a passionate and seasoned travel, food, and lifestyle writer, whose words paint vivid pictures of the world's most captivating destinations. His work not only inspires others to embark on their own adventures but also fosters a deep appreciation for the beauty and diversity of our world. He captures the essence of each locale, offering readers a glimpse into the cultures, landscapes, cuisine, and experiences that make travel so enriching. Craig is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and the International Travel Writers Alliance (ITWA). If you are a PR agency or brand and would like Craig to review a travel destination, vehicle, restaurant, product or service, please send him an email.

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