Children’s Opinions on Mobile Etiquette and Mobile Technology

Children in the Middle East and North Africa are having the same mobile-device issues as their counterparts in America.

A new article details the results of a survey of children between the ages of eight and twelve on mobile etiquette, and on the use of their own mobile devices.

Since these same problems are becoming common throughout the Middle East and North Africa, I thought I’d just survey a few children  I know personally to see if the results here agree with the American survey.

A third-grader I know tells me that one child in her class has his own Blackberry, and that all the other children are jealous.

She agreed with the one-third of American children who said they would rather go without their entire summer vacation than give up their mobile device (s) for one month.

She disagreed with the 50 percent who felt it was okay to use a mobile device at the dinner table.  I was pleasantly surprised when she told me she prefers talking to people in person over sending a receiving messages from them on a mobile device.

Some fifth-graders I know (ages 10-11) tell me that EVERYONE (except one person) in their class has either two, three, or four mobile devices per person.   The one person who doesn’t have any feels very left out.  They said they spend between two and three hours a day on their mobile devices, right in line with the American survey.  They also agreed that ALL of the children, themselves included, would FAR rather do without their summer vacation than give up mobile devices for one month.

They told me that everyone thinks it’s okay to use the devices at the dinner table if just the family is present, and that parents would not object–in fact, some would use devices themselves.

However, if guests were present, using mobile devices at the dinner table would be rude.

Eighty percent of the upper-middle class high school students in my region now have their Blackberries, according to high school students I know (not compared on the American survey).

See the first comment below for the text of survey of American children.

–Lynne Diligent


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3 Responses to “Children’s Opinions on Mobile Etiquette and Mobile Technology”

  1. Lynne Diligent Says:

    I’m including the American Survey here because I didn’t know if everyone would be able to access it on Facebook (particularly if you are not a Facebook user):

    Mobile Etiquette: What it Means to Kids and Parents
    by The Emily Post Institute on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 7:10pm

    Last Saturday, I spoke at an Intel-sponsored High Tea and High Strategy event at the Mom 2.0 Summit in New Orleans, a conference for some of the most focused and engaged bloggers I’ve ever met. At the end of February, initial findings from Intel’s “Mobile Etiquette” survey were released, focusing on general statistics related to mobile manners of Americans across the nation. At the Mom 2.0 Summit, I shared a first look at findings from the survey that related specifically to how parents and children are using their mobile technology devices (laptops, netbooks, smart phones, tablets), and how it impacts their relationships.

    The topic of mobile manners is one that we are confronted with at The Emily Post Institute on a daily basis. The rapid pace of new technology is evolving faster than new social norms for using it. Mobile devices connect us, but if they aren’t used appropriately can distract us from the people we are with. The findings from this “Mobile Etiquette” survey by Intel provide us with an opportunity to understand how people are using mobile technology devices, and how their behaviors impact others around them.

    I think we can all agree that the premise of etiquette and how we socialize with one another is not a new concept. However, it seems parents and children are discovering that when it comes to using their mobile devices, what makes for good manners is not always clear. Join me below the fold for survey results and mobile manners tips for parents and kids.

    A few key findings related to how parents and children use mobile technology:

    Overall, it seems that we’re seeing younger and younger aged children with their own mobile technology devices these days. The Intel survey included responses from children 8-17 years of age, and 50 percent of the children that are just 8-12 years old reported they had at least 2 mobile technology devices.
    And, we’re seeing that children are very connected to these devices. Children 8-12 years old reported spending approximately 2-3 hours per day using their mobile devices. And, one of the most surprising statistics (in my opinion) is that one-third of children report that they would rather go without their summer vacation than give up their mobile device for one month.
    Children continue to look to their parents as examples. 94 percent of parents agree they must set a positive example if they expect their children to practice good mobile manners, but 59 percent of children have witnessed their parents commit common mobile infractions, including: use of a mobile device while driving (59 percent), at dinner (46 percent) and during a movie or concert (24 percent). It’s no wonder that nearly half of U.S. children (49 percent) say they don’t see anything wrong with using a technology device at the dinner table.
    Ninety-four percent of parents believe it is important to establish ground rules in the home about the proper use of mobile devices; some parents are already doing so by prohibiting use of mobile devices in certain places like at school, or setting limitations on how the devices are used by their children, but those rules aren’t being set in overwhelming numbers – for example, less than half of the parents surveyed are setting general guidelines for use of mobile devices during family time.
    When used effectively, mobile devices can better connect parents and children. According to the recent Intel survey, 70 percent of teenagers and 75 percent of parents believe that their mobile devices allow them to better connect with each other, more often. That being said, there are still 50 percent of parents who feel guilty for using their Internet-enabled device when they feel they should be spending time with their children.

    Top Tips for Children and Parents to Improve Their Mobile Manners (and for Parents to Say Goodbye to Guilt):

    Use technology to engage with your children. Ask them to give you a tour of their Facebook page and show you who their friends are. Your daughter is into American Idol? Look up the website together.
    Location, location, location: Designate when and where the computer should be used, and choose a location that is in a central spot so kids aren’t isolated when using it.
    Determine house rules. As a family, discuss ground rules for how you’ll each use—or not use—mobile devices. Talk about places like the dinner table and homework hours, and the car, restaurants, and special events. Parents, be willing to limit your behavior, too, such as, “Mom, no texting during my soccer games,” or, “Dad, no calls during family movie night.”
    Don’t feel guilty about using a “digital babysitter”: iPads instead of crayons at the restaurant, DVDs instead of “I Spy” games in the car, and smartphone apps instead of a book in the waiting area are all fine. Don’t feel guilty about allowing your kids these distractions, just set a time limit and participate with them when you can.
    Be a good role model. Parents, kids look to your example in all things, and how you use technology is no different. Hop off the phone when checking out at the grocery store and don’t text while driving.

    Third Party Resources / Articles:

    “How Do [They] Even Do That?” Myths and Facts About the Impact of Technology on the Lives of American Teens, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project
    The Touch Generation: The Evolution of Digital Natives, Intel Free Press
    2011 report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project states that 85 percent of U.S. adults own a cell phone, 52 percent own a laptop computer, 4 percent own a tablet, and only 9 percent do not own any of these or other devices covered in the study

    Survey Methodology:

    The “Mobile Etiquette” survey was conducted online within the United States by Ipsos on behalf of Intel from Dec. 10, 2010 to Jan. 5, 2011 among a nationally representative sample of 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. The margin of error for the total sample is ±2.2% at the 95% confidence level. The study included the following audiences: 286 parents of children ages 8-17 (margin of error +/- 5.8%) and 500 children ages 8-17 (margin of error +/- 4.4%).

  2. Judy Says:

    “Be a good role model,” isn’t that the truth? Children want these devices because they see adults use them. I firmly believe that parents’ behavior, not just with mobile devices, has far more influence on children than most parents realize, or want to realize. If we can’t get adult usage and manners under control, we’re fighting a losing battle with our children.

    • Lynne Diligent Says:

      I think this is very true, Judy. However I think children want these devices mainly for prestige purposes, in addition to “fun,” of course. When I grew up it was prestigious to have a lot of ski lift tickets on your jacket (which no one ever removed) so that everyone else could see them! The people with the most tickets were held in the highest regard (as skiing is expensive). Sort of similar to showing off your mobile devices today. I think this affects manners, too. In the early 90’s, I made a trip back to my home state when large, clunky cell phones had just come out. I went out for lunch with an attorney friend of mine. She took me to a restaurant filled with other attorneys. My friend was on her phone several times during lunch as was everyone else the restaurant! It seemed to be a competition about who could be seen to receive the most phone calls, which was the indicator of status among the group. I think it’s the same idea which is happening today with teenagers. They get out their devices in front of each other to show off that they have the newest and most expensive devices in order to increase their status. Whoever gets the most calls and messages appears to others to be the most popular. it’s to make others feel like, “They are getting more calls than me! They have a lot more friends than me!”

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