Friday, September 30, 2016

30 Days Hath September... it's not too late to acknowledge that September is officially National Children's Good Manners month. 

Since they were wee, we've impressed upon our two the import of politeness---in person and in writing. Now, as high-schoolers freshly equipped with smartphones and other computerized means of communication---rife with rudeness-potential---a new array of etiquette advice is required.

Thankfully, Team Twinfatuation had the opportunity to e-chat with Gregg Murset, a father of six and the CEO of, an organization committed to helping parents raise responsible children.

At what age would you recommend children begin to interact on digital platforms, and how "monitored" would you recommend they be?
It used to be that interacting on a digital platform meant using a computer. These days, kids as young as 1 or 2 can be seen holding a tablet or mobile phone that is serving as a video-babysitter. I believe a child is ready to work multiple digital platforms by the age of 5, though some apps or programs will be extremely complicated for them. Still, parents should limit the amount of time spent on these devices by monitoring time and what apps/programs are being used.  Don’t let your children drift off into the cyber-world for hours at a time where you have no idea what they’re doing or who they are doing it with. 

What "consequences" would you suggest for internet mis-use/misbehavior?
Don’t forget that you are the owner of the technology, at least until your child has reached the point where they are paying for the device and service. As the owner, you should let your child know 1) technology can disappear as quickly as it appeared; 2) privacy on the device does not exist until they are paying for the device; and 3) the price for misuse is no device - plain and simple. 

With my teen twins, we regularly see not only kids, but adults, focusing more on their device than on the "real-life" activity around them. What do you feel are the most egregious lapses in manners/courtesy when it comes to device use?
The largest lapses I’ve seen are Not Being Present and Not Being Responsible. Kids that spend long hours engaged in screens generally are “someplace else” rather than engaged with family or friends. This “someplace else” will eventually leave a negative impression of your child with others and build frustration throughout the family. Also, if your child is spending a great detail of time on mobile devices, there are responsibilities not being handled - homework, chores, playing with friends or even a part-time job. 

What are your tips for not only kids, but their parents, in keeping things polite in the digital realm?
1. Don’t Let Digital Devices Babysit … Get kids started on technology early to help them learn, not to watch movies as your babysitter. 

2. Monitoring Won’t Devastate Your Child … Parents should know what kids are doing online and whom they are doing it with. Even though more and more apps are being designed to hide what kids are doing, there are companies with the means to help parents follow kids activities. It’s not about spying, it’s about protecting.

3. Time Limits … Set up time limits for kids when it comes to time spent on devices. There are even companies now that offer up home internet servers that limit the amount of internet time kids can have.

4. Practice What You Preach … It’s easy for parents to disengage from the family thanks to our mobile devices. Sure, it’s work or your mom or just one more post on Facebook, but just remember, kids repeat what they see adults do. 

5. Less Is More … Real quick, name five reasons why a 9-year old needs a $600 iPhone with all the advanced features? If you can’t, join the crowd. Kids don’t need mobile devices that do much more than the basics. If you really want to know why certain mobile social apps have dominated our kids, it’s because parents are buying kids mobile devices that allow them to do all these things. If you are really honest with yourself, you’d admit that your child doesn’t need much more than something to call, text or email. 

Thanks so much to Gregg for taking the time to share your insights with us!

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