For a typical nine-year-old New Yorker, etiquette is more than remembering to say "please" and "thank you"; it's about avoiding texting no-nos and knowing the difference between what you can say face-to-face and on Facebook. "Not only do tweens and teens need to understand that whatever they put on the Internet can stay there forever, but they also need to recognize unsafe behavior online," says Faye Rogaski, the founder of Socialsklz, an NYC-based etiquette company that teaches courses in modern-day manners. "During the workshops, tweens see the impact just a single blog comment or inappropriate photo can have on one's reputation," she says. (Classes for younger kids, ages 4 to 7, cover basics like shaking hands and table manners.)
After Rogaski conducted a Google search for similar organizations that yielded little variety and an austere feel ("The ones I found were white-gloves, pinkies-up-at-high-tea kinds of classes"), the public-relations executive and communications professor at NYU decided to create a program that spoke to today's tech-savvy generation of kids. The company's logo—a smiley-face emoticon—captures the spirit of her curriculum: fun, hip and interactive. Kids tune in and catch on because the lessons aren't lectures from their parents; they're games shared with peers.
The four-class series carries a $195 price tag that Rogaski calls an investment, because what's the point of taking your kid to MoMA if she spends the whole visit texting? "If they don't have the basic social skills to apply to their lives, none of those efforts will be effective," she says.—Sarah Robbins
24 Union Sq East between 15th and 16th Sts, fourth floor (212-579-5300, socialsklz.com)