Smartphone Etiquette To Teach Your Kids and Teens

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If your child is getting an upgraded phone, or their first one this holiday season, now is the time to start teaching them smartphone etiquette. I’m fortunate to be able to spend a significant amount of time, both personally and professionally, among young people – particularly teens and preteens. As a result, I’ve talked with kids and teens about their phones and what is commonly considered acceptable and unacceptable behavior among these groups. While their ages may range from 10 – 16, neither group is shy about sharing what they like, or dislike, regarding their friends using their phones.

So bringing it all together, here’s what I’ve taught my own kids and others. I recommend you have the conversation with your children and then follow through as you watch them engage with their friends and their phones.


1. Never assume it’s OK to pick up your friend’s phone and start using it or looking through their photos. Ask first.

2. Don’t watch your friends when they’re entering their password. That’s private information and not your business. Respect your friend’s privacy.

3. Treat your friends’ devices like you’d want your own to be treated. If you don’t run around with your phone playing tag or leave it tossed on the ground during practice, don’t do it with their phone.

4. Never post things on your friend’s social media account unless you ask, show them what you want to post, and they say it’s OK. It’s their account, not yours. You may think it’s funny to change a friend’s status, but it’s not.

5. Don’t open their email or read their texts. While it’s hard not to see a text that pops up, the text wasn’t meant for you. Hand the phone back to your friend right away. Privacy is important.

6. If your friend happens to let you look at their phone, don’t share it with others. It’s not your position to share their information with others.

7. Don’t look through your friend’s search history. If you want to look something up, ask first.

At the end of the day, when your friend lets you use their phone, they are trusting you to be responsible with it. Would you hand your phone over to a friend knowing they would drop it or edit your social media profile or find your least flattering selfie? Of course you wouldn’t. So don’t be that person. Be the friend you’d want to have.

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