Ten (Digital) Resolutions for Children and Teens

Have you noticed that more and more people these days tend to walk with their heads bent over a handheld device, or are driving while holding a cell phone to one ear? While these devices have enriched many of our lives, could some of us be at risk of becoming too dependent on them—and of forgetting about interacting face to face with others?

Our children are growing up with these devices as routine parts of their lives. Here are some resolutions you might consider for your children (and maybe yourself) as we go forth in 2013. They address the appropriate use of these electronic devices.

  • I will not post mean things about people online, or text mean things about people.
  • I will not forget my manners when using my cell phone. I know that talking on the phone in a restaurant, during a movie or a class, or when going through the checkout at a store (and this list is endless) is rude.
  • I will never give out personal information about myself or my family without my parents’ permission. This includes not sending photos of myself over the Internet.
  • I will not send sexually explicit pictures of myself or of anyone else over my phone or the Internet.
  • My family will set up a family charging station. I will place my cell phone and other devices on this station before bed and will not take these devices to my bedroom with me. There’s nothing that cannot wait until morning, and I need a good night’s sleep.
  • I will not talk or text on my cell phone while driving. Better yet, I will have my parents help me install an app that—without my even having to touch the phone—will automatically send a message to all callers that I am driving and will call back when I reach my destination.
  • I will limit my use of electronic devices and TV to two hours or less each day, so that I don’t miss out on what’s going on around me.
  • I will choose nonviolent games and television shows to play and watch and will encourage my friends to do the same.
  • I will never end a relationship with a person via text or email. This is a cop-out. Respecting other people’s feelings is important, and some subjects deserve a real conversation. (Parents would be shocked at the number of teens who handle most of their dating relationships through texts! Are our kids dating actual people or a cell phone?)
  • Speaking with another human being is called “having a conversation.” The art of conversation takes practice. I promise that at least once a day I will look someone in the eye and try to have a conversation. Shoulder shrugs and one- or two-word answers (“huh,” “yeah,” “no,” “no problem,” etc.) do not count as participating in a conversation.

Sorry to be a grump about this, but I feel that our electronic devices might be stealing from us a big part of our civility and our community. We can embrace what technology offers while still treating people with respect.

©1996-2013, Johns Hopkins University. All rights reserved. Disclosure: The information provided here is compiled by The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with editorial supervision by one or more of the members of the faculty of the School of Medicine pursuant to a license agreement with Yahoo! Inc. under which the School of Medicine and its faculty editors receive licensing fees and payment for services rendered within the scope of the License Agreement. Johns Hopkins subscribes to the HONcode principles of the Health on the Net Foundation.

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