The rapid adoption of mobile telephones, the internet and a wave of associated technologies has caught society offguard. Social protocols normally develop over centuries, not months, and inappropriate and rude behaviour has resulted. Now a new book seeks to outline some rules of etiquette for the use of electronic devices.
The new book, written by the founders of the National League of Cotillions, is a definitive, comprehensive guide to digital manners in the home, at the office and in public places, but the section titled "Parent's Guide to Electronic Etiquette" is causing considerable discussion.
For example, the authors contend, "Cell phones should only be given to children for reasons of safety -- not for social calls. We recommend that if a child has a wireless phone, it should be 'on loan' and for the purpose of calling home. Children should not be allowed to give the number to their friends."
"The use of cell phones and the Internet by children and teens is a privilege, not a right."
We must admit that when we saw the above line in the press release, we weren't sure if the book might be over authoritative, perhaps stipulating opinionated dogma with no basis in reality - when the book arrived, we were pleased to see that it is balanced, logical and comprehensive in its coverage of basic courtesies and efficiencies in all forms of communication, from the telephone all the way through messaging, chat rooms, email, electronic games, music, video and their usage in different environments.
Even things such as office printer and fax usage protocols are covered and it's quite funny really that everything in the book is logical and common sense - quite clearly, common sense isn't as widespread as its name suggests.
Says Charles Winters, president of the National League of Cotillions, "During the past few years, we have become engulfed in a tidal wave of technology. It has greatly accelerated the speed of communication, given instant access to data and made life more convenient. At the same time, society has been drowning in a sea of information overload and time pressure that often results in rudeness and incivility."
The protocols and procedures found in "The Official Book of Electronic Etiquette" are taught by the National League of Cotillions , the largest organization of etiquette and social training programs in the United States.
"The Official Book of Electronic Etiquette" sells in the US for US$14.95 for the hardcover version, and is available on Amazon.com for a 30% discount at present - US $10.47
The book's ISBN number is 0-9710644-1-5 and the National League of Cotillions web site can be found here.