July was National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, and a great time to talk to your kids about Smartphone etiquette. What do they need to know?
Here are a few tips for you and your child:
Avoid texting, talking and driving: If your kids are of driving age, this can never be said enough. Not only is it discourteous to others on the road, but it is also a safety hazard. Many cities and states have regulations prohibiting texting while driving; and a few allow talking with the use of a hands-free device. The National Safety Council website provides statistics on distracted driving and advises that even hands-free cell phone use leads to cognitive distraction and slower reaction times www.nsc.org/road-safety.
Observe silence in places of worship, cinemas, museums and libraries: Checking your phone or having it ring during a religious service—even if you don't actually post or text—is a major faux pas and is quite inconsiderate of those around you. Traditional religious or holy sites and homes of the arts are places where there isn’t an exception to the rule. Mobile phones are off-limits. If you must check your phone, go outside and move at least 10 feet away from the building.
Avoid talking & texting in a waiting room: When waiting for an appointment, the time may be spent completing forms, watching TV or quietly reading. Many medical and dental providers post signs prohibiting mobile phone calls, while allowing texting. Keep in mind that others in the room may have a serious condition, and someone else’s chatter can only add to the anxiety. If a phone call is urgent, step outside to avoid disturbing others.
Use a quiet voice in public: It goes without saying that shouting on the cell phone is rude, and even if the conversation is positive and exuberant those around you may not be so enthused. Modern manners experts recommend that you lower your voice, so others cannot hear your conversation. If the person on the other end has trouble hearing you, find a private place to continue the conversation.
No calls on public transportation: On public transportation, it may be crowded, hot and space may be at a premium. Passengers are often impatient and ready to get to their destination. The last thing they want to do is listen to a Chatty Cathy on the cell phone. Be mindful of those around you and keep cell phone usage to texting (with the sound off) while on public transit.
Be mindful of conversations: As juicy as it may be, no one wants to hear your best friend’s latest drama discussed in a loud, detailed conversation in public. Keep private conversations private; wait to take those calls when you’re at home in a space with no noise restrictions or public etiquette concerns.
- Cross the street phone free: Even with protected crosswalks, it is imperative for pedestrians to pay attention when crossing the road in busy traffic. In the road there are distracted drivers (those phones again!), EMS and commuters bustling every which way – being on the phone while walking in the middle of the street only adds to the hazard. If you’re in a conversation, wait to cross until after you hang up, or put the person on “hold” or mute.
Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette and modern manners expert, who is the founder of Access to Culture.