Is Passenger Phone Safe to Answer?

Driver Distraction…Phones gone Bad.

Dear Ms. Smartphone: I noticed that you often take questions about drivers using phones. How about the case when a passenger uses their phone in the car, but someone else is driving them? Is this a safety issue or is it OK to do? TT, San Francisco

Dear TT: You question caught me off-guard, probably because I’ve seen all those movies where the hurried passenger in a taxi places call after call. Surprising, at least to me, it that it is not a good idea to make a call as a passenger. The literature says that overhearing only half of a conversation—a halfalogue”—is more distracting than other kinds of conversations because the listener misses the other side of the story. It’s serious: in the UK, passengers who take a phone call face a fine if they are training a new driver. Phones down. Thanks for elucidating me!

Kid’s Weekly Allowance Cash or Digital?

Should parents give kids a digital allowance? Rock, Paper, Phone!

Dear Ms. Smartphone: My children, ages 5 and 10 each get a weekly allowance for doing chores. The ten year old got a phone this year and asked me to put his amount, $10.00 per week, on a Venmo account. What do you think? Jaycee, Quincy

Dear Jaycee: That’s an interesting question. For readers who don’t know, Venmo is a popular app, one of many, that securely transfers digital payments between people, in lieu of paper money.

Your children will grow up in a world where digital payments will become the standard. But for now, I have two reservations about the digital allowance.

Buyers display less fiscal management and spend more when they use digital payments/ credit cards. Parents need to show their children how to save money, as well as spend it. Second, giving your child money to spend online will encourage him to be online more often. Since your child is only ten, it’s vital to monitor both his time and spending online.

Sending a Text on Mother’s Day Sent Wrong Message

Mother’s Day went awry when Mom got a text…not a phone call

Dear Ms. Smartphone: On Mother’s Day I texted my mother to wish her a happy Mother’ Day. This seemed like good digital etiquette as I live out of town and could not visit. Now my mother is angry and says I should have called. Did I do something wrong? T.J. Tiburon

Dear T.J.: There are too many factors here to pull apart. Do you typically text your Mother, or do you call her? Is there a tradition of sending cards or flowers? And, when did you text: late in the day, or before she got up? There are many different options for communications today, and you should choose the one your Mom would like- not the one you prefer.

Here is a useful academic take- the mode we use (say text vs. voice call) also changes the messages in a subtle way. Have you considered making peace now by sending Mom a singing telegram?!