Rate Your Tech Etiquette: How Rude Are You?

Work-Life Balance on 05.18.12
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Photo: Laura St. John / Discovery Kids Puterbugs

Like all parents, my intentions are to use technology to make my life better, not worse. But let's face it: with new tech gadgets and apps coming out every millisecond, it's hard to become aware of the habits we form on the fly each day.

If you've got a pint-size audience watching every move you make, then it's time to take a few extra milliseconds right now and rate your tech etiquette.

How to Score Yourself

I'm not a math person, so I'm keeping this simple for you. If you can honestly answer "Never" then give yourself 0 points. If you answer "Sometimes" then give yourself 5 points. If you are "Totally Guilty" then give yourself a whopping 10 points. Ready, set, here you go.

Have You Ever...

1.  At School Carpool Pickup Line: Talked on your cell phone at the carpool pickup line while your kids are getting out of school? When she jumps into your car, make sure your child knows she is the most important thing at that very moment -- more important than chatting with your friend. My school has a no cell phone policy at pickup, but I am so guilty on this one -- sneaking mine on speaker mode.
What's Your Score?  Never = 0  /  Sometimes = 5  /  Totally Guilty = 10

2. At the Restaurant: Played a DVD player while waiting for food at a restaurant? Seriously! I was shocked the first time I saw a parent flip up the mini DVD on the table, but now I've seen it several times. I've handed my kids my phone while waiting for the meal and allowed particular creative uses, because in my opinion, playing a coloring app is similar to coloring on paper. But a DVD player? That just crosses the line for me.  
Your Score: Never = 0  /  Sometimes = 5  /  Totally Guilty = 10

3.  Driving Around Town: Played the DVD player even on short trips? That's not rude to others, but it is rude to your kids. Even though they may beg to watch something, you don't want to miss out on the small talk about how their day was, or discuss how you expect them to behave at the supermarket you're about to go to. Being trapped in the car together is a perfect excuse to talk, not tune them out.  
Your Score: Never = 0  /  Sometimes = 5  /  Totally Guilty = 10

4.  At the Grocery Store: Talked on your phone while checking out at a store? That's just rude -- plus the clerks hate it. If you're in front of me in line chatting away, the cashier and I are rolling our eyes about you. Tap into the the real world, and don't miss out on everyday moments. Plus, who is going to stop your kids from rummaging through all the enticing candy placed so nicely at their level? 
Your Score: Never = 0  /  Sometimes = 5  /  Totally Guilty = 10

5. Walking In From Work: Do you walk into your house with the phone attached to your ear? Turn off work before you walk in the house, so you're not a half-parent. Even if you have to turn it back on later -- try to do it when the kids are asleep. 
Your Score: Never = 0  /  Sometimes = 5  /  Totally Guilty = 10

6.  At Family Dinner Table: Checked your phone at dinner? The familiar chime goes off to tell you a new message is awaiting. Bringing your phone to the table is not a healthy habit. You don't want your future teenagers to point the finger that they learned it by watching you
Your Score: Never = 0  /  Sometimes = 5  /  Totally Guilty = 10

7. Anytime: Do you check your phone or computer for the latest Facebook updates or email messages when you don't really need to? It really irks my husband if I'm half-listening to him and half-checking my messages. I don't blame him. I'm guilty (sorry, honey). 
Your Score: Never = 0  /  Sometimes = 5  /  Totally Guilty = 10

8. Too Much TV Babysitter: How many hours on the tube do your kids really tune into? Up to two hours a day on screens is typical - but some households can clock up to five hours per day! Passive uses of technology for that many hours is really unhealthy for kids -- or even adults. 
Your Score: Never = 0  /  Sometimes = 5  /  Totally Guilty = 10

9. DUIT (Driving Under the Influence of Technology): Texted while driving? We all see the photos of mangled cars. Isn't that enough? I have to put my phone deep inside my purse so I'm not tempted. Texting and driving is never good for you, your family, or other innocent drivers on the road.
Your Score: Never = 0  /  Sometimes = 5  /  Totally Guilty = 10

Rate Yourself:
0-15 Points: Congrats -- You're a model of healthy tech habits.
20-45 Points: It's time you re-evaluate your tech habits.
50 + Points: You're so guilty -- you need an extreme tech makeover right now!

Personally, I scored a 30. I struggle to re-evaluate my tech habits and make good choices everyday. Let me know how you did: Post to our Facebook and join our discussion about Healthy Tech Habits today!

Laura St. John is co-creator at Discovery Kids Puterbugs, a unique program that teaches kids how to use technology as a tool for creative learning -- starting with the letters of the keyboard. Classes are offered in locations throughout the US, as well as an anywhere-anytime online format. To learn more about entrepreneur licensing to bring classes to your area, tune into Laura's startup webinar or email licensing@puterbugs.com, att: entrepreneur packages.

Related Articles on Tech Habits:
Create a Safe Tech Routine in 3 Simple Steps
Stop This Unhealthy Tech Habit From Ruining Your Road Trips
3 Tech Resolutions Every Parent Needs To Make