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Parental guidance: Teens and cell phones

Aimee Manfredo, 14, from Shoreham on her cell

Aimee Manfredo, 14, from Shoreham on her cell phone in Riverhead. (Feb. 22, 2011) Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

I was amazed by a conversation I had with some teens about cellphone etiquette. When I stated it is rude to talk or text in the company of another, they seemed dumbfounded. How is this subject treated by parents and teachers?

Parents and teachers also find it disrespectful, says Debbie Gorney, owner of Peas and Thank You, which offers culinary and etiquette classes for kids. Gorney also works in the school system at Western Suffolk BOCES in Huntington.

"The person you're with is who you should be talking to, rather than putting that person 'on hold,' " Gorney says. Using a cellphone simultaneously says to the person with you, " 'You're not as important,' " she says.

Children and teens need to be reminded of this as they struggle with the instant gratification of answering a text or call. Incidentally, adults can be just as bad, Gorney says. She was having dinner with her adult son when he got a call and responded by text. "I had to reprimand my 27-year-old and say, 'Excuse me, put it away,' " Gorney says. The multi-tasking excuse doesn't fly, Gorney says. "Multitasking means ironing and washing the floor at the same time," she says.

Authors Sheryl and Caroline Eberly agree in "365 Manners Kids Should Know" (Three Rivers Press, $15): "Even if your child is so adept at texting that she can craft a message from the inside of her purse while holding a conversation, others will notice and take offense," they write.

Send your parental guidance questions to beth.whitehouse@newsday.com or follow her on Twitter @bethwhitehouse1.

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