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How Can You Avoid Being Rude On A Mobile Phone? Cell Phone Etiquette

Updated on August 28, 2013

Mobile Phone - Cell Phone Etiquette

Is the use of a mobile phone at the dinner table appropriate or are the times-a-changing?

Research shows that in 2012, of the 4 billion mobile phones in use worldwide, over 1 billion are smartphones and it is predicted that by 2014 internet usage via a mobile device will overtake desktop usage. Americans are said to spend almost 3 hours per day on their mobile socializing, with the majority of time spent playing games, monitoring weather patterns or searching maps.

It is no surprise then that the question is being posed about social etiquette rules and the use of mobile phones. Just what are the rules of cell phone usage?

Rules of Cell Phone Etiquette
Rules of Cell Phone Etiquette | Source

Social Etiquette

“These every day devices kill all forms of social skills.”

Let us explore the differences between generations, more specifically as to what millennial generation think is acceptable compared to my gen-X father and his friends.

Most people these days take their mobiles with them to restaurants and cafes. Very often they are used, played with, interacted with and as a result, we don’t take notice of the waiter or other people at the table.

The other day my father huffed and puffed when we were in a bistro. At the next table, two teens and a more senior gentleman, for arguments sake I'll assume it was their father, were dining. The father had his nose buried in the newspaper, one teen was texting whilst the other was talking out loud on her mobile phone, arms waving excitedly, describing last night’s event. Not one word was being discussed between these three.

It is not just the modern day generations. My father has access to high level boardrooms. Yes, even executives break all of the social etiquette rules by either having their mobile phone placed on the dining table, or they are constantly checking their mobiles for messages, held under the table.

This is not only considered rude, but it is a clear signal to your host that your mind isn't 100 percent on your job. It really says something about a person if you cannot devote that time to which you have agreed to be attentive to the other person who is right in front of you.

Table Manners

“This mobile usage at the dining table demonstrates a total lack of respect for others.”

There are an alarming number of people who have come to value electronic interaction over face-to-face interaction.

Imagine the next generation of children who will observe this behavour in restaurants, boardrooms and the like. Will they lean towards it and embrace as normal?

I confess that I am an electronic junkie, in the times we live in now it is almost impossible to do what we do and carry it out effectively if we are without them; however there are times when we must put our devices aside in the name of civility and common sense.

I grew up eating at the family dining table, discussing all sorts of topics, debated, argued … it’s not bad to argue, but we communicated.

Bathroom Cell Phone Etiquette

Don't bring your mobile phone into the bathroom. Ever!

  • This rule should apply to using your mobile phone at work or anywhere.
  • You never know who's in there; the person on the other end of the line will hear bathroom sounds, e.g., toilets flushing; it is an invasion of your co-workers' privacy.

Telephone Etiquette

Personal mobile calls

  • If you have your personal mobile at work you should only use it for important calls.

What should you classify as an important call?

  • Your friend calling for a chat?
  • Your child calling to say there is a stray dog in the backyard?
  • Your mum calling to tell you that cousin Sara is engaged?

None of the above should be considered important in the workplace or at a dining table.

Maybe these are:

  • The school nurse calling to say your child is ill.
  • Your child calling to say he’s arrived home from school safely.
  • Family emergencies that you must deal with immediately.

Cell Phone Etiquette Rules

OK, let’s discuss places not to use your mobile – you probably can add to my list.

Let your mobile go to voicemail

  • While you are out and about with other people, if you are in doubt as to whether an incoming call is important, let your voicemail pick it up.
  • It will take much less time to check your messages than it will to answer the call just to tell the caller you can’t talk.

Don't bring your mobile phone to a restaurant

  • Even if you have your mobile phone set to vibrate, if you receive a call you will be tempted to see who it's from.

Social Etiquette

Do you use your cell phone whilst out socialising with friends at a restaurant?

Do you ignore those around you?

What is your take on use of cell phones in the dining room?

Are you one of the third of facebook's 600 million users who use facebook mobile?

Take a moment to consider your surroundings. Consider your table manners. Consider your social etiquette.

All Hubs are Original Material by 'Work At Home Mums' ©


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