Smartphones have become part of the high school experience. Seventy-three percent of American teenagers now own smartphones, and one in four take their phones to school every day, according to Cell Phone City.1 Many educators are even welcoming their presence; 16 percent of schools now allow smartphones in the classroom, and educators are finding an increasing range of classroom applications for smartphone technology, including research and as an e-reader alternative. As high schools increasingly incorporate smartphone usage into the classroom, the phone usage behavior they help instill in students will begin to spill over into the workplace, making it important to teach students phone etiquette that will serve them in a workplace environment. Here are some phone etiquette lessons that high school educators can teach students to better prepare them for success in the workplace.
1. Explain Employer Perceptions
Students who allow themselves to be easily distracted by their smartphones may be cultivating habits that can hurt their employment outlook. When CareerBuilder asked 2,201 hiring managers and human resource professionals across different industries and company sizes to name the most detrimental blunders that job applicants make during interviews, 49 percent of respondents cited answering a cell phone or texting.2 In another CareerBuilder survey, employers named cell phones and texting as the biggest productivity wasters in the workplace, with 50 percent of respondents complaining about time employees wasted on mobile devices.3 Use of smartphones during interviews can keep job applicants from getting hired, while excessive use of smartphones in the workplace can cause employers to view workers as lacking commitment, unfocused or lazy.
Discourage phone habits that will make a negative impression on employers. Lay down ground rules for what constitutes appropriate in-class use of smartphones. When students violate these rules, impose real-world consequences, such as forcing them to apologize to their classmates for distracting them.
2. Teach Smartphone Time Management Skills
Teach students how to limit their phone usage to appropriate times. Consider adopting what’s called the “stoplight approach” — teachers can post a green, yellow or red sign on the door each day to let students know whether or not smartphone use will be permitted in the class that day. During “red” time periods, students should have a secure place where they can store their smartphones to remove the temptation to indulge in inappropriate usage.
3. Model Good Smartphone Etiquette
Another step to take — in cooperation with parents — is modeling good smartphone etiquette for students to imitate. For example, when you don't want students using their smartphones, refrain from using your own phone. The Emily Post Institute provides a printable list of Top Ten Cell Phone Manners that teachers can post and model for students.4
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