Smartphone Etiquette in a Digital Era

Call me old-fashioned but I think we need to reinforce etiquette when it comes to mobiles and, in particular, smartphones.

A recent report shows that the United Kingdom is addicted to the devices, and I know  the same is true in theU.S.

Based on the findings, I suggest the following etiquette rules (I hope Miss Manners would agree):

1) Smartphones may not be used during mealtimes. According to the survey 22% of adults and 34% of teens say they do this.
Seriously, you can’t get through a 30-minute meal without your phone? Why not converse face to face?

2) Smartphones may not be used in bathrooms. The survey reports that 22% of adults and 47% of teens do this. I recall one time I  walked into a bathroom during a conference break and a person was chatting away on the phone in the stall. Is no place private?

3) Smartphones may not be used when in a check-out line. While the survey does not address this, I find it impolite to not address
the person who is ringing up my purchase. And I don’t like it when friends ask me to hold on while they finish the transaction. I always ask them to call me back when they are free.

The survey also noted that 51% of adults and 65% of teens say they have used their smartphone while socializing with others. Almost any time I see a group of teens, they are talking to each other and texting. I don’t see that changing, and they seem comfortable with it. But I hope we don’t lose the fine art of conversation.

Movie poster for "Midnight in Paris"

The movie "Midnight in Paris" reminds us to converse face to face.

In the movie Midnight in Paris several scenes take place in Gertrude Stein’s salon. These gained prominence for their lively intellectual conversation in the fields of arts and letters. I may be like the other 37% of adults who are highly addicted to their smartphones, but I still want to have that lively conversation face to face and not through a phone.

I’m not giving up my phone, but I’m going to practice good etiquette when I use it.

2 thoughts on “Smartphone Etiquette in a Digital Era

  1. Your comments are spot on! I’m going to have to share them. It always amazes me how so many smartphone users never seem to be living in their face-to-face world. Odd . . . and rude.

  2. Bonnie says:

    Cynthia, you are so right! I attend many meetings where the “participants” are physically present, but never look up from their devices. They may be listening with their ears (I suspect otherwise), but they are missing all the body language & facial expressions that are key elements of the conversation. I’m happy to say that at VPW meetings, we still look at each other.

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