Screens and Etiquette

The rules of engagement with our smartphones is evolving as rapidly as the technology itself. The when, where and how of smartphone etiquette is constantly changing. Perhaps it’s the product of the younger generation who grew up with these devices are beginning to mature and set in the place the new social norms. Maybe it is the ubiquity of smartphones that makes a once social faux pas suddenly acceptable.

Regardless of the cause, we as a society need to set and follow basic ground rules when interacting with one another, with our smartphone and the overlapping area of the Venn Diagram where these two meet.  While smartphones have unlocked endless potential for the world, it is important to control our usage before our society turns into something straight out of Black Mirror.

            Based on a Pew Research Center survey, Americans generally agree on where it is appropriate to engaged with smartphones when out in public. About three-quarters of people say that it is generally ok to use their device when on public transit, walking down the street or waiting in line. However, on the flip side, close to 90-percent say that it is not ok to use a smartphone when at a family dinner, during a church service, attending a meeting or at the movie theater.

One can assume that we careless about someone using their phone in a generally solo activity as opposed to one that involves as a group. Interestingly enough, based off the survey data, there seems to be more leniency spending time on our phones while at a restaurant with 62-percent saying it’s not ok and 38 that say it is acceptable.

Additionally, 89-percent of those individuals surveyed said that they used their smartphone in the last social interaction they had, whether it as sending a text, taking a picture or video, reading an email or placing a good ole fashion phone call. When pressed about why they were engaging in their smartphone, about 41-percent said that they wanted to avoid or disengage with the physical people they were with due to boredom or wanting to participate with another group online.

A generally accepted social no-no is the vocal pubic phone conversation…on speaker phone. Many agree that it is inappropriate to have your phone conversation blasting from your speaker for all to hear. We have all seen this person walking down the street, at the grocery store or, if you are incredibly unlucky, stuck with them on a bus or subway. Though, based on current trends, we may find this acceptable in a few years.

While it is great to be connected with friends and family over vast distances, or even those that are local, being mindful and considerate of those around you can go a long way as our devices become more entrenched in our daily lives. It is recommended to take a set time out of the day to ‘disconnect’ and enjoy the moment you are in.

If you are in a relationship, you and your partner should pick a time to enjoy each other’s company without the distraction of the smartphone. This philosophy also hold true for those that have a family. It is important not to forget how to be with other people, particularly the ones we care about.

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