You know not to use your phones while driving, but when is it acceptable to use your phone at work, out with friends, or at dinner with family? Is there an unspoken phone etiquette you should follow? Or does anyone even care? Cell phones are here to stay and people are using them now more than ever, in more situations than ever before
American’s Phone Usage
Now that at least 92% of adults in the U.S. own a cell phone we are officially a cell phone obsessed nation. More than 64% of adults in the U.S. own a smart phone, meaning that we are using cell phones to complete more tasks, provide more services, and entertain us in more ways than ever before. According to Pew Research, 31% of cell phone users never turn their phone off and 45% rarely turn it off. Similarly, they report that 29% of cell phone users claim that their cell phone is something that they can’t imagine living without. Have you ever checked your phone for a message, alert, or call even when you did not hear it ring or vibrate? You’re not alone, according to Pew, so have 67% of cell phone users.
Our newfound dependence on cell phones brings about questions regarding the social implications of cell phone usage. When it is OK or not OK to use your cell phone in specific social settings?
Whether or not it is consider OK to use your phone at work largely depends on the job you have and the type of business that you work for. According to Pew Research, 94% of Americans think it is not OK to use a cell phone during a meeting. While it might make sense to not take your cell phone into staff meeting, the work place is changing and there could be OK times to use your phone. In an article from the Telegraph, Corinne Mills, a managing director, discusses the blurred boundaries of personal and work when it comes to phones. “There always used to be the case of, you don’t do any personal stuff at work. However it doesn’t quite work like that anymore.” She explains that many jobs are not 9-5 anymore, requiring you to check email or respond to texts after hours. Therefore, it is most likely acceptable for you check your phone now and then in these types of environments, since you’re also working at home.
When you’re home after work relaxing with the family it can be tempting to pull out your phone and respond to some text messages or check social media. Yet, at what point does it become detrimental to your family relationships? According to Pew, 88% of Americans think it is not OK to use a cell phone when with your family eating dinner. One popular fast food restaurant is combating cell phone usage during family dinners with a challenge. Chick-Fil-A’s Family Challenge involves “cell phone coops” that families can pick up to place all their cell phones in as they start their meal, in-store. Then, if all family members are able to keep their cell phones in the “coop” until the end of the meal, it means free ice cream for everybody.
On Coolmomtech.com, Kristen wrote about a similar challenge, as she strived to spend more time with her family by not using her phone from 4pm until 8pm each day. One thing she found during this challenge was that she had been wasting a lot of time on her phone. She warns, “…be aware that those [cell phone] conveniences also make it extremely difficult to simply put your phone away.”
When you’re out to dinner, spending time with friends that you enjoy, how often do you check your phone? 89% of cell phone owners said they used their phone during their most recent social gathering. Yet, just because you’re using your cell phone with friends, does not mean you’re being rude. In fact, many claim to be using their cell phone for social purposes specifically involved with the gathering, such as posting a picture or sharing something on social media.
Yet, just because you might be using your cell phone to be more social, doesn’t mean your relationships are improving.
According to the article How Your Cell Phone Hurts Your Relationships from Scientific America, just having the phone near you in social interactions can make you appear untrustworthy to others. Similarly, Aja Frost of the Muse put these theories to test, by not using her phone during social interactions for a week. Though it was challenging, she found that people enjoyed being around her more and seemed to trust her more, as well. “Putting away your phone makes people feel appreciated and respected,” said Aja.
Putting the Phone Away
So if you should be putting your phone away now and then to benefit your relationships, how do you do it?
Don’t worry, there’s an app for that.
Recently, a list of apps have been released that will manage the time you spend on your phone. One of those apps, QualityTime, reports on the overall time spent on your Android and broken up for each app. Many of the other apps on the market, such as OffTime, Moment, and Calm, have similar features.
You can also rest assured that while you might not always be using your phone at work, at home, or with friends, you can still keep it close by with one of these cell phone holsters.
So, no matter what the proper etiquette for phone usage might be at work, at home, or with friends, the morale of the story is this: Take a break from your phone every once in a while and you’ll see the benefit.