Teaching Kids to Use the Phone

using the phone yak sponsoredWhen we were kids, telephones were different. They connected to the wall, most families only had one, answering machines were few and far between, and many phones were rotary-dial. Today, many people are giving up their land lines in favour of smart phones that can go anywhere, and that carry a whole host of features from cameras to calendars to games. Young children may spend more time on Skype, Google Hangout or FaceTime than they spend talking on the phone. Even in this day and age, though, learning how to use the phone properly is important.

Why Phone Skills Matter

There are a few reasons kids need to know how to use the phone:

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  • Safety – Have you heard the stories about young children who’ve saved their parents’ lives by calling 911? These are extreme examples, but as kids get older it’s important that they know how to call for help. This is especially true when they’re away from home, and need to reach you in a hurry.
  • Family Connection – While using the phone is falling out of vogue for younger generations, the odds are pretty good that your kids’ grandparents and great-grandparents still rely heavily on the phone. If your kids know how to call them, it can help foster that family relationship.
  • Life Skill – The phone is still the most efficient way to make most appointments, get a quick question answered when you can’t find the information online, or interact with many businesses. As your kids get older, you’ll want them to know how to do these things themselves.

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Tips for Teaching Kids About the Phone

In a day and age when the phone is used less and less often, how do you teach your kids how to use it? We have a few tips.

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  1. Keep the Land Line – Long before your kids are old enough to have cell phones of their own, they can use the land line to make and receive calls. Not only is it easier to use than a smart phone, it doesn’t have all the features to distract a young child. If you hand a seven-year-old your iPhone to make a call, for instance, you’re just as likely to find them playing Angry Birds as talking to Grandma.
  2. Tell Your Child What to Say – It may seem obvious to you how to place a call or answer the phone, but if your little one has never done it before, they may need coaching. Explain how the ringing works, what a busy signal means, and what voicemail is. When your child places a call, explain what to say when someone answers. When your child answers the phone, explain what to say then, as well.
  3. Make Sure Your Child Knows Their Phone Number – If you’re going to be using the phone, it’s important that you know how other people can reach you. It’s also a safety issue, as it will allow your child to call home if needed. Kids as young as four or five can start to learn a phone number. You can also write it in a school backpack or on a coat, so that if your child is away from home they know how to find it.
  4. Practice Makes Perfect – The best way to get better at anything, including using the phone, is to practice. Have your child answer incoming calls at home, especially if you happen to know someone friendly is calling. Have your child place calls to friends and family members. As they get older, you can even have your kids use your phone to relay messages to your partner while you’re driving.

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What about you – how do you teach your kids about the phone? Leave a reply and share your tips!

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Amber Strocel

Amber Strocel is the Managing Editor of City Mom Now, the parent network of Toronto Mom Now. She is a writer, podcaster, ardent crafter and green mom, who believes strongly in the power of the Internet to connect and empower. You can follow her on her personal blog at Strocel.com.

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