Mind Your Mobile Manners: Smartphone Etiquette Is Always in Style

Pot, meet kettle. A new survey out from Bank of America found that less than 20 percent of adults think they are on their mobile phone too much, yet more than half believe others are. And, only 10 percent of respondents believe they are “tuned out to the world” when they are on their smartphone, while half say that others definitely are.

While this is certainly an issue for all generations, it’s something that millennials in particular should be aware of: Whether it’s true or not, there is the perception that young people are glued to their devices 24/7, although I admit I can be just as guilty myself. I thought it might be time to revisit some smartphone etiquette that can benefit all of us.

Device Advice 1: It’s Acceptable to Watch the Phone If You’re Expecting an Important Call or Text

“If you know you’re expecting an important phone call (and do make sure it’s actually important) or text, it’s okay to have your phone out as long as you let the group know what you’re doing, says [Pamela] Eyring, [president of The Protocol School of Washington]. However, if it’s a call you then have to take, you should leave the table to take it. …’It’s not as inappropriate to have your cellphone at hand if you need it to catch something important, but that doesn’t mean you should walk around talking on the phone — if you have a call you have to make or take, go outside so you have quiet, you’re not shouting, and you’re not a telephonic eyesore,’ explains advice columnist April Masini.” —  Read more at Marketwatch.

Device Advice 2: Be Aware of Your Surroundings — and Who You’re With

“The biggest potential for a clash of generations lies in places of worship, meetings and traditionally quiet places, like theaters. Between 9 and 11 percent of people ages 18 to 29 approve of cell phone use in these contexts, while 96 to 99 percent of Americans ages 50 and up do not.” —  Read more at The Huffington Post.

Device Advice 3: Watch Where You’re Going

“We’re really distracted by our screens. Scientists agree. [Jack] Nasar, [professor emeritus at Ohio State University who studies phone use], found that injuries to pedestrians on their phones more than doubled between 2004 and 2010, according to NPR. And in a 2015 study, Conrad Earnest, an exercise scientist at Texas A&M University, sent 30 people through a course designed to mimic city sidewalks and streets — both with their phones and without. Earnest found that people who texted while walking moved more slowly and veered off their paths more than screen-free walkers.” —  Read more at Business Insider.

Device Advice 4: Don’t Let It Interfere With Work Productivity

“Three in four employers say two or more hours a day are lost in productivity due to distractions such as smartphones, according to new research by CareerBuilder. Nearly 20% of employers think workers are productive less than five hours a day. The productivity-killing culprit? Smartphones and the many distractions they offer. Mobile phones, texting, and the internet are to blame for a majority of distractions, according to more than half of employers.” —  Read more at Consumer Affairs.

Device Advice 5: A Little Consideration Goes a Long Way

“The bottom line is that our understanding of mobile phones is changing: Where we once saw them as tools in solitary endeavors — highly personal, self-directed, isolating screens — we now understand that they can also be used pro-socially. The rule here, as in all social endeavors, is to use them considerately.” — Read more at Washington Post.

Your turn. What annoying mobile habits have you seen recently? What rules would you put at the top of your device etiquette list? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Lindsey Pollak is the leading voice on millennials in the workplace, trusted by global companies, universities, the world’s top media outlets — and, most importantly, by millennials themselves. A New York Times bestselling author, Lindsey began her career as a dorm RA in college and has been mentoring millennials — and explaining them to other generations — ever since. Her keynote speeches have audiences so engaged that, in the words of one attendee, “I didn’t check my phone once!” Contact Lindsey to discuss a speaking engagement for your organization.

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Lindsey is a globally recognized career and workplace expert and the leading voice on generational diversity. She has spoken for more than 300 audiences including Google, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder, Stanford and Wharton. Lindsey is the author of four career and workplace advice books, and her insights have appeared in media outlets including The TODAY Show, CNBC, NPR, the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal.


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