Updated on December 21, 2010
J.W. asks from Phoenix, AZ
18 answers

I have a nephew, 13 years old, that texts constantly. Last night we went out with his mom and my daughter to a Christmas Festival and then met other friends for dinner where there was a local band playing. I personally know the band players and came out to support them. We got a table up front to watch the band. The kids were socializing and the adults were socializing. However, I noticed that my nephew was constantly texting away. Granted I'm not his mother but I had to tell him to stop texting because I thought that was impolite. Was I right to tell him to do that? My husband thinks I'm too overboard when it comes to manners so I need to know if I'm in the right. I felt that since I invited them out that I was the host. If I go over to their house, I would not say to stop texting if we were at their dinner table. Is there such a thing on cell phone etiquette and texting? It seems that everyone texts or they are on their cell phone all the time and it annoys me when I feel it's not appropriate such as the checkout line at the grocery store or at the doctor's office.

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for the responses. I will talk to my sister in law. I realize that I should have been respectful too and asked her first about her son actions instead of telling him to stop texting. I wasn't minding my manners as well.

Featured Answers


answers from Houston on

It is impolite and on top of that it's an addiction and prohibits people (especially the youth) learn how to behave socially.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I agree he was rude. Cell phones should not be used when socializing with guests, unless there is an emergency.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Austin on

I have a young friend that was always texting, even during meals and while I was speaking with her. I finally asked her, "do you realize when you text, it is just like a phone call. It is considered impolite to do that while with someone that is speaking with you or during a meal?" She said, "No one ever told me that! I am so sorry. I will not do that any more..

We then talked about being ina grocery line checking out and texting, movies, concerts, plays, interviews, class, while working.. etc.. If you would not be making a phone call, you should not be texting. That you wait until your break, until you are in a private setting.

I thought it was interesting that her parents never mentioned this to her..

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Good for you! It's SO rude! Cell phones and smart phones have done a lot to erode manners in our world. I wouldn't hesitate to tell anyone at a table of mine to put the phone away. And yes, I am SO sick of hearing about random stranger's lives in the grocery store, Target, waiting rooms, etc. If you're one of the offenders and you're reading this -wait until you're in private, because the rest of us don't want to hear it.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I have had to say something to my stepsons (16 and 17) on occasion, just because it's dinner time, we are all sitting at the table, and they can't stop texting - I don't even let them have them at the table because it's such a distraction having them picking it up the second someone texts them. They didn't see what the big deal was but their dad backed me up.

My guess is their mom doesn't think it is a big deal so naturally they don't either. I am a veterinarian and one of the weirdest situations I found myself in was when a family brought in their older dog as an emergency because she had collapsed at home. Turned out she had a tumor on her spleen that was bleeding out into her abdomen and the only options were to try to take her to surgery or have her euthanized. The parents had come with their 13 year old son and they didn't know what to do. The mom kept texting their other son at home (who as 18) about the situation. Apparently the 18 year old didn't want them to euthanize the dog, but the rest of the family felt it was the best thing to do. So Mom and Son are text-arguing back and forth about their decision. This went on for almost 2 HOURS! And all I could do was keep checking back with them in the room waiting for them to tell me what they had decided. Deep down, I felt like, can't you just get on the phone and actually TALK to each other? It just seemed so ridiculous that they would be texting about such an emotionally charged issue, instead of actually having a spoken conversation. Not to mention the fact that the longer they are taking to make a decision, the worse the dog is getting (finally they did decide to have the dog euthanized).

I don't blame you at all for saying something to your nephew - it is rude to just text away and ignore the people around you. Though you might have been better off saying something to his mother instead if she was there, just to bring it to her attention.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Many teens text constantly and in their teen culture, it's just expected. their parents often don't tell them that it's rude - the teens have grown up with cellphones, IM, and texting all around them. If his parents were with him, then it was not appropriate for you to tell him that he should stop texting. If he's on an outing or at your dinner table and his parents are not with him, then it is your place to do so.
Many parents have their cellphones and blackberries at the dinner table, so the kids are modelling their parents' behavior. Everyone has become so dependent on the technology and tricked into thinking that they are so important that they must be reachable by all people at all times.
If someone is sitting by themself at the doctor's office waiting for their appointment or killing time on line by texting, I really see nothing wrong with it! I've been known, on line at the supermarket, to text my teenager to tell her "I'm on line at Walmart, home in a half hour." What gets me is the parents who are texting through their kid's band concert or other school event.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I think there are some instances in which being on the phone at all (talking, texting, internet) is impolite, like in the Movie Theater after the lights have been dimmed or ANYwhere it is posted. I think in restaurants, it kind of depends on the type of restaurant; Chuck E Cheese is different from someplace that has $50 plates, and even then it depends on your company. I DO think texting should be done at a minimum when out socializing (why not stay home if you're going to be occupied by your phone the whole time?)...and also agree that it is rude to 'interrupt' real life interaction for texting.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on


I think you were right and wrong. It would have been better for his mom to tell him to stop texting. But yes, since you invited them--they should have respected the band and not texted period. So you should have waited for the mom to say something or ask her to say something-- but you were also right to ask them to stop so they wouldn't offend the band.

as far as grocery shopping and dr's office-- i don't think there is anything wrong while in line-but when you get to the front to talk to the checker or the receptionist, you should put it away.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I have to tell my daughter and son this all the time. They will come to take to lunch and spend most of the time texting!!!! I will say that its the rudest thing ever. I finally told them that when we are together our time is precious to me so please from now on do not do that. They laughed and said that they would not text anymore when with me. I love them...LOL!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I wholeheartedly agree with you. My concern, as a parent, is that my son will grow up thinking this is *normal*. This sort of rudeness isn't normal from my perspective. Children and teens who are allowed to be constantly disengaged from the human beings around them loose an opportunity to learn how to relate and be in the company of other adults, and more importantly, how to keep themselves occupied when the goings-on around them aren't necessarily 'of interest' to them. The world is not here for the personal amusement or entertainment of any of us, and learning how to be politely bored --god forbid, learning how to engage with those around us, and to pay attention to something we might not be especially interested in for the sake of the group-- all of these are skills I have noticed in people I admire. Can you imagine our President sitting at a Tree Lighting with the band from the White House playing, and sending texts?

I can understand texting while waiting to be called for a doc's appt, but not at the expense of tuning everything out or annoying others (loud cell calls), and never when we are waiting for a serviceperson or cashier to take our orders or requests. We are asking them to value our time, and thus should extend the same courtesy.

I know I'll sound extreme, but we are clear that when the time comes (if ever, ha ha) that our son has a phone, he won't be sitting at a restaurant playing video games or texting; he can talk with us or just sit and listen. By allowing our kids to constantly disengage because they are "bored", we are running the danger of raising shallow, self-centered kids who could care less about anything beyond themselves. Participating isn't just about being the center of attention, it's about listening quietly too. I want my son to be able to function in the worlds he chooses, no matter what profession or life path he takes. Being able to listen and engage with others is a life skill that will get him farther on his journey than disconnecting.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

There is DEFINITELY phone etiquette and it seems as if so many people fail to realize what it is and it drives me absolutely crazy!

It is so rude to text while socializing with others.. another thing I can't stand is when people keep the blue tooth in their ears.. it causes you to come off as you feel you are of higher importance than the rest of us..

If I were in your shoes I probably would have done the same thing, but also, in my family we aren't going to ask each other about it before hand.. if one of our children is doing something wrong.. then we correct it.. I have disciplined my niece before without questioning it and it wasn't a big deal because it's about teaching what is acceptable or not..

Of course if it is a situation when you question whether the parents wants their child doing something.. at that point I would ask my sister..

Although, I am someone who feels that young children have no reason to have cell phones and I find it utterly ridiculous in general.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

of course it was rude. his parents should not have allowed it to get to the point where YOU would have so say anything at all.

i find it really sad (and suspicious) that anyone can claim ignorance on this issue. i think mostly people just think their little conversations are more important than anyone else around them - including other drivers' safety.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Good for you for saying something! I would have done the same thing. My kids don't have their own cell phones yet, just one they share when they need one. And cell phones are not allowed at my table.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

I agree with you .. Texting and cell phone use is off the charts and at inappropriate times. Personally, if that was my child , I would have made him STOP.......... this happened at Thanksgiving dinner whereby a friend's daughter was at the table just texting away...... As I tell my son, good manner are never out of season... There is a time and a place to text and talk on the phone.... not sure why some people just don't get it..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Oh stuff like that irritates me to no end! A lot of my friends text CONSTANTLY. I can't stand being out with them and their phones are always going off with texts and then they are texting back. What's the point of going out if you are going to be on your phone the entire time? I also can't stand to be shopping and having to hear someone else's entire conversation! Last week I was in Family Dollar and the entire time this woman was pushing around a cart with her little boy in it talking on her cell about who she was having sex with, the girl she fought with last week, and how she was on her period (there was more to that conversation that also involved the first topic but I will spare you the details)- all at top volume. Everywhere I went in the store I could hear her loud and clear. I finally just bought what I had in my cart and left- deciding to finish at another time. But it's not just customers- I can't tell you how many times I've been at the checkout at a store and will have to wait for the cashier to finish their texting and put down their phone before checking me out. Really? You're at work- that is for your free time.
I admit I text and talk on my cell a lot. If I'm sitting in a waiting room or sometimes in a long line, I'll text. But once I'm face to face with the worker I put my phone away. If my phone rings in a store I'll answer it and tell the person I will call them back after I'm done in the shopping.
I agree with Hazel that our children are running the risk of becoming shallow and unable to just sit still. Cell phones, Ipods, handheld video games are not teaching our children to engage in the world around them. I hope to teach my daughter the same things Hazel said she wants for her son.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Modesto on

I hate it too! It is bad manners. It falls into the category of whispering in someones ear while others are present... just plain rude.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Personally, I don't think was you did was wrong. I find it very rude when someone is constantly texting or checking email on their phone. I was out with a friend the other night an every time I turned around she was picking up her phone. She was even replying while she was talking to me. I just find that rude.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I'm with you. It's not polite at all to text when you're at a function. And many parents should teach their children proper etiquette when they are at a special function or visiting someone else's house. It's just impolite. I would probably say, "it's impolite to text while at this function. Please go somewhere else and do that". Or just say something to the parents. I'm a direct person so I have no problem asking politely to refrain from doing inappropriate things. I hate seeing someone on the phone while driving. I honk at them to get them to pay attention to what the heck they're doing. lol

1 mom found this helpful
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