Keep Summer Fun: Practice proper tech etiquette to help reconnect with friends and family

The Emily Post Institute has partnered with Bank of America to talk about all the ways good etiquette can work with new technology to improve relationships and help people reconnect this summer.

1364929_88397074June is here and the 4th of July is just around the corner. Summer is a great time to reconnect with the people who matter the most to us. It is a time for ‘making time’ to enjoy the company of old friends and treasured family. It is also a time of potential stress as friends gather, travel to visit, and open up homes to host others. With smart-phones, 4G, and social media everywhere; the office is never more than a ring, click, or like away. The generation that has grown up connected and wired-in may have a hard time unplugging long enough to get to know the cousins who came from so far away. Expenses pile up in the most unexpected as well as predictable of ways. And all this is supposed to be fun.

Good etiquette can make all the difference. Consideration, respect, and honesty are the pillars of strong relationships that survive any test and thrive in every environment. Try these simple tips to help everyone keep the focus on summer fun!

  1. Know your role in a given situation. Guests should show up with gift in hand, ready to chip in, and aware that it is up to them to keep their impact on the host minimal. That includes not hogging bandwidth or occupying the home computer that your host lets you use for too long. Hosts should plan ahead by preparing rooms, and staying aware of how their mood sets the tone for the visit. The considerate contemporary host might think to provide wireless passwords or even set up a temporary guest network or computer log-on for visitors.
  2. Establish Digital house rules that everyone can agree to live by ahead of time. Consider carving out a few ‘no digital’ spaces to allow time for important face-to-face human interactions. The dinner table, bedrooms after a certain hour, and even shared common rooms are all places that most families might agree to leave phones, tablets, and other devices behind for the duration of the visit.
  3. Set a budget ahead of time with everyone who is contributing and stick to it. Then pay people back on time. That means before you are asked by the person who has put up the money for tickets, rentals, even gas and food. The Bank of America Mobile Banking App allows you to securely send money using a mobile number or email address. The recipient does not need to be an account holder and you can do it anytime, from anywhere your phone gets a signal. No trip to the banking center needed means there is no excuse to put it off. No more checks. No IOUs. Settle up in this convenient manner and keep the focus on the fun where it belong.
  4. Traveling professionals should set expectation with those they work with as well. In today’s connected world, a vacation can turn into a working vacation very quickly and with little warning. Let those you work with know what are reasonable expectations for getting in touch with you and what your response times are likely to be. Outline what types of emergencies are serious enough to overstep these agreed to boundaries.
  5. Remind yourself that for any rude digital behavior that you have witnessed, someone may have been thinking something similar about you at some point. It is easier to see rudeness in other than in ourselves and mobile devices have the habit of jumping into hands and attaching to ears before the offender ever realizes what is happening. Consider starting a new summertime habit of leaving the smart-phone behind every once in while. The phone-less lazy day at the ball game, the beach, or spent with family might very well be a new standard for relaxation.

For more information on how to manage your finances using new technology in the best ways possible, visit


  1. txmorrison

    NOTE: I have NO idea where/how to ask for “community guidance” re: this issue!
    At the age of 64, I find myself having to (unwillingly) leave a stunning home in my beautiful adopted hometown. After 2 challenging years of looking for a place in a major city 400 miles away, my agent finally found one, & I just bought it, sight unseen. Projected possession of this small strata structure is Sept/15. In short, there has been a lot of “trauma & drama” :) which WILL continue. So, I was a bit taken aback by a recent email from my niece: “…Rumor has reached us that you’re selling and returning to the big city! That’s a shame, but hey, we are planning a visit there next summer. Perhaps we could crash with you and your partner for a week or so?” The ‘we’ in her email refers to her 7 year-old energetic daughter, and her husband whom I’ve never met. Since I have never even seen my smallish new abode, I don’t even know if it has facilities to accommodate three, but I DO know this much: (1) The basement/rec room is a small carpeted room with windows, but no bathroom, no closets, nor anything to sleep on. (2) One flight up, the main living level with kitchen, LR, FM, & DR has nowhere to sleep either, & only a 2-piece bath – a toilet & sink. (3) One more flight up, the 3rd level has 2 occupied bedrooms – each with an ensuite – & an office. Again, no “sleeping quarters.” HELP!
    (a) Am I truly getting old, or is this email not presumptuous & bordering on rude?
    (b) Practically, IF I agreed to this (which I’m not inclined to do), the best I could offer is that they buy some foam; crash in “the pit” in the basement; and come up to the 3rd floor when showers/baths are necessary. (One of the reasons I fled “the big city” 8 years ago was to avoid MANY situations exactly like this one!)
    But the flip side of this is that my niece & her extended family are VERY generous people (who, living in a less costly part of the country, all own HOUSES) & would probably put up a small army in the blink of an eye! Hence, we have very different approaches, but I don’t want to offend her. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated – & my apologies if this query is in the wrong section, with inappropriate format, etc. as I’m new to Many thanks!

    • Elizabeth

      While I agree that your niece’s email was a bit presumptuous, she probably did not mean to offend, given that she would offer up housing herself if asked. My advice would be to simply respond in a friendly tone and explain that your new home is quite small and not well-equipped for guests. You need not give the details. If you do, you may open the door to her saying, “That’s ok, we’ll deal with the third floor bathroom!” Just say that you’re sorry, you can’t, but that you’d love to meet the family for dinner while they’re in town. No need to say that you found the email presumptuous.

    • Lori C

      Txmorrison, You and your partner are under no obligation to host your niece and her family for a week or more if you are not up to it. I suggest you email your niece and tell her you are so sorry but are unable to accommodate her and her family next summer. Let her know you and your partner would love to visit with them when they are in town.

    • Jody

      I agree with the others — it’s *your* house and you’re under no obligation to host others. I’d email your niece as soon as possible to let her know that unfortunately you won’t be able to host them. I also agree that there’s no need to provide details. Stand firm if your niece presses you for details or says something like “things can change in a year.”

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