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Top 10 Etiquette Tips for Smartphone Users

By Stacey Ross

For many smartphone users, their devices have become an extension of their person, keeping them just a finger's reach away and on and off the grid all day, habitually texting, chatting, posting, etc. without a second's thought. Sometimes they appear to be tuned-in experts at multi-tasking, but other times oblivious to others who are annoyed by their lack of courtesy!

It is a matter of fact that many feel naked without the resource that we now take for granted, but how often do we contemplate how our habits affect others? Rules of etiquette for cell phone users have evolved just as much as the technology behind them, but some folks just need to catch up with the times!

I posed the following question to my Facebook friends, “What are your pet peeves regarding cell phone use?” and received some insightful replies:

“People speaking loudly via Bluetooth--in public. If you have to, at least lower the tone of voice....” ~ John Morin

“Parents using them during their kids’ games and performances! Invading your hearing with the conversation and typing ticks. Illuminated screens during a low-light performance, and missing all the great parts because of it.” ~ Angie Barbera

“People checking their phones during a meeting and then asking questions they missed when they were distracted. Ugh!” ~ Rachel Whitley Beld

“Paying more attention to your phone than the person you are with. Talking louder than you need to.” ~ Carolyn Allen

“Don't speak on your phone while talking to someone else, e.g. checking out or being helped at stores.”  ~ Cara Wyllie Hinchman

This got me thinking.... What rules of etiquette should just be universal? Some are common sense, but others, honestly, had me examining myself!

The following are ten top suggestions to keeping it classy as a smartphone user:

  1. Make safety your first priority! The National Safety Council estimates in a 2013 report that one-quarter of all crashes involved cell phone use. Some states will ticket drivers using a phone, so that serves as a great deterrent, but the smartest move is to just take calls once you have parked in a safe spot.
  2. Don’t snoop on other people’s phones, even if they do ask you to hold it or take a picture. On that note, sharing others’ personal information without their permission is just not cool as well!

  3. Turn off your ringer when you are in a public place (especially in airports and restaurants!) and for goodness sake, don't impose on others by using the speaker phone when you are out and about! If you have earphones on, consider that your volume amplifies greatly, so hush up!

  4. If you plan to talk or text when you are out on the town with someone, let him/her know beforehand that you are expecting an important text or call. This way you are not interrupting the engagement you had prioritized! If you are an addict, merely take your phone to the restroom and check how many friends "like" your new photo – lol!!

  5. If you are in a disagreement or quandary with someone, give him/her a call (vs. a text), so that there is no misunderstanding and you are not hiding behind a screen. Trust me!

  6. Likewise, if you have very important news, consider picking up the phone and make it personal. I know people who were dumped from a relationship via phone text and even someone who was even laid off in that manner. What a cop-out!

  7. Do not bad-mouth others while texting or emailing, as cyber gossip can get ugly. Enough said on that.

  8. Use your phones at a minimum during class time, meal time, or business meetings. The message sent is that your phone business is more important than their company. Let others know if you need to be on alert for an important text from your kid or doctor.

  9. Be sure to ask for permission when you wish to take a photo of someone, especially if you are planning to post it to your social media outlets or tag it. Also, consider that your kids might not appreciate it that once upon a time you thought it was a cute idea to broadcast their first poop to your 300 besties – oh, and somehow it went viral. Poop happens!

  10. During performances when the lights are off (like at the movies or theater), turn your phone OFF and keep it OFF! This is so obnoxious, I don't know where to start other than, “Will you turn your phone off, please? It is distracting us!” I confess I have not always been that courteous, so that can be our final BONUS!

BONUS: Try to keep your cool when smartphone trolls do not show proper respect (this one I need to recite over and over!).

Did I miss any? Join me on Twitter and let me have your thoughts!

Stacey Ross is an online consultant, social media enthusiast, freelancer and owner of SanDiegoBargainMama.com. A former teacher and middle school counselor, she is now a mom of two who researches and freelances about lifestyle topics involving family and well-being.

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