Telephone Safety and Etiquette for Kids

In today's day and age when our lives seemingly run entirely on technology, teaching your children how to properly answer or place a telephone call can seem like a needless measure. But that is precisely why it is so important to focus on teaching this most basic life skill.

Children today are given access to computers and cell phones at younger ages than most of their parents were when they saw their first cable television show. So, it might seem like children intuitively know how to answer a phone because of they’ve grown up with technology, but actually, the reality is quite the opposite.

Many children today are learning even the most elemental life skills from watching television or videos on the internet, of which many are unsavory at best. That's why we've assembled this article and a handy infographic to help you teach your children to create a great first impression and be safe on the telephone. Click the following link for accompanying Teach Your Child Telephone Safety Video.

Telephone Safety and Etiquette Infographic

First and foremost, it's always a good idea to affix important and emergency phone numbers next to the telephone so in times of emergency, children will know exactly who to call.

Next, proper etiquette and good manners are essential in any phone conversation, as children will most likely be speaking to an adult on the other end of the line. Respecting one's elders should always be a consideration when a child answers a telephone call. Teaching your child a simple phrase such as “Hello, this (name), with whom am I speaking?” is an excellent opening line.

The adult calling will typically ask to for an adult in the household, and it is at this point that children often make the mistake of answering that their parents are not at home. This leaves the child vulnerable and at risk of harm if an unscrupulous adult is calling with the intent of preying on an unattended child.

Teaching children to answer requests for parents in a manner that doesn’t reveal they are actually alone is the safest practice. A response such as, "I'm sorry, my parents can't get to the phone just now. May I take a message?" is both courteous and safe because it serves as a deterrent to criminals by alluding to the parents being home.

When parents are home, children should ask callers to "Please hold the line," and then place the phone gently down before going to fetch their parents rather than screaming for their parents while still holding the phone's mouthpiece near their mouth.

Sometimes callers will continue to press children with questions regarding their parents' whereabouts, so children should be instructed to politely ask the caller to “Please call back later. Thank you,” and then hang up the phone.

Likewise, when children place telephone calls to the homes of their friends, they should employ the same level of courtesy. By politely greeting whoever answers their call with a statement such as "Good afternoon, this is (child's name). May I please speak with…" your child is demonstrating their good manners and respect.

Other instances of telephone etiquette that children ought to be instructed on are what to do when they've dialed a wrong number and proper message taking. Should your child accidentally dial a wrong number, they should confirm the number they attempted to dial versus the number they reached, and then offer an apology to the person answering their call rather than just hanging up on them.

And when the need for taking a message arises, teaching children to write down the caller's information accurately can save a lot of headache for the person calling and the person they intended to speak with. Notating the caller's name, who they wished to talk to, and a return phone number are the most important things to be captured in a message, but if your child is feeling especially personable, they can further ask, "May I tell them what your call is in reference to?" Perhaps the most important aspect of taking a message, children should remember to actually deliver any messages they take down to their parents.

Although much of today’s interpersonal communications occur digitally via text, instant message, and email, there are times when telephone calls are the most expedient means of conveying information. It is important that children know how to politely and safely answer phone calls, how to place calls courteously, and how to accurately take and deliver messages.

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