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Guide to Smartphone Etiquette


Smart phone etiquette has a long way to go, and past trends show the evolutionary pace will be slow. Take, for instance, the evolution of standard automobile operation practices. The Model T Ford was released in 1908 and before long, auto were everywhere. Yet it was not until the 1970’s that seat belts became a standard feature in cars that people actually used. In the US, seat belt laws didn’t come about for another decade.

The Beginning Stages of Phone Etiquette

The modern cell phone came into being in 1983, but it wasn’t until 2001 that there was a law on the books (in New York State) that restricted cell phone use while driving, so expect smart phone etiquette to take just as long to develop into a standard. So, if you’re wondering whether it’s OK to answer that text in church, at a meeting at work or at a restaurant while the waiter is talking to you, it’s really a toss-up right now. Some may object and some won’t. Good luck guessing.

Don’t Phub

The concept of “phubbing” seems to be the stickiest issue. It’s a British term for snubbing a person you’re talking to face to face in order to take a call or text. A University of Essex study concluded last year that smart phones kill social skills and damage human relations. Those of us who’ve been phubbed already knew that, but then, have we phubbed others? Probably. One third of Britons surveyed admitted to phubbing their friends.

Twenty-seven percent of phubbers say they think it is OK to phub someone face to face, while chatting, and 19 percent are OK with phubbing the waiter and a full one third are fine with chatting on the phone in a restaurant. Half say it’s OK to talk in the movie theater as long as the ringer s off-89 percent do object to ringing phones at the movies, but since smart phones are so visual, that’s largely irrelevant.

When and Where

Most also objected to texting at church and about two thirds object to texting and driving, but the same two thirds are fine with chatting hands-free. The rules are tougher with dating, with 70 percent saying it’s wring to talk on the phone while on a date unless the use of the phone relates to the live conversation. The greater objections in every category come consistently from older people.

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