6 Solutions to Bad Smartphone Etiquette

What's Hot

2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

Is it too late to repair the bad smartphone behavior that's apparent just about everywhere you go – at the theater, over dinner or during a face-to-face conversation?

Are you tired of people who let their smartphones rule their lives to the point they’re rude to those around them? These are violations of cellphone etiquette, which is a subset of what’s referred to as “netiquette.”

Some examples:

  • The dining companion who constantly checks his phone.
  • The person who texts while you’re having a conversation with them.
  • The strangers who use their phones at the movies or other public events.
  • Here’s the worst: people who use their smartphones during sex. (I’m not making this up.)

A poll conducted for Nokia a couple of years ago identified these as the top four pet peeves regarding cellphone behavior:

  1. People playing music, games or movies in public without using headphones.
  2. People who talk too loudly. This has been called “cell yell.”
  3. People who use their phone at the movies or in a theater.
  4. People who text while you’re having a conversation with them.

Aren’t there ways to make these people stop being so thoughtless of others around them?

We looked for some possibilities:

1. Penalize yourself

A Michigan judge had a standing rule that anyone whose device disrupted his courtroom would be cited for contempt and assessed a $25 fine. He ultimately paid the fine himself after his new smartphone began speaking during a trial. “I set the bar high, because cellphones are a distraction and there is very serious business going on,” Judge Raymond Voet reportedly said.

Perhaps you’d be less inclined to engage in bad smartphone etiquette if you announced to your friends that you’d pay a price whenever you did. You could give the money to a designated charity.

2. Penalize others

As I’ve written elsewhere, some restaurants have taken to kicking out patrons who use their phones or charging them extra. On the other hand, at least one gives a discount to those who surrender their phones at the door.

3. Point out the rude behavior

You could politely – no cussing or fussing allowed – mention your objections. But before you do so, carefully assess the responsiveness of the person who is being rude. In fact, I’d be reluctant to mention it to a perfect stranger.

4. Jump on the bandwagon

Did you know that July was National Cell Phone Courtesy Month? Nope, me neither. But what if a large number of people committed to recognizing and honoring this monthlong event? That would get some people’s attention. Often social change starts with the efforts of just a handful of determined people.

5. Begin at home

Maybe you can’t regulate the bad cellphone behavior of others, but you can control what goes on in your house. Set the standards and enforce them. No phones at the dinner table. No phones during homework. Phones turned off after a certain hour. The Pew Research Center says 44 percent of cellphone owners have slept with their phone next to the bed because they were afraid of missing something.

6. Give them their own space

This idea came to me when I read an article on The Huffington Post by Karen Leland about the origins of National Cell Phone Courtesy Month. How about if areas where people regularly congregate have separate sections for those with phones and those without – like the old smoking and nonsmoking sections of airplanes? On second thought, nah. There wouldn’t be enough nonusers to make this work. The Pew Research Center says 91 percent of U.S. adults have a cellphone and 56 percent have a smartphone.

Would any of these ideas really make a difference? I’ve noticed that while most people agree that good netiquette is nearly nonexistent, they often manage to overlook or even excuse their own bad behavior.

The Pew Research Center says only 11 percent of cellphone owners worry that they are too involved with their phones. In fact, the center says:

  • 39 percent of cell owners say that people they know have complained because they don’t respond promptly to phone calls or text messages.

  • 33 percent of cell owners say that people they know have complained because they don’t check their phone frequently enough.

In other words, people are not complaining that we’re too attached but that we’re not attached enough.

A friend of mine told me she shared my pet peeves about people checking phones during dinner and texting during conversations, but she kept checking her smartphone during dinner at a special event. Her kids might need her, she said, explaining her reasoning. All of those kids were grown and out of the house.

Wrote Julie Spira on The Huffington Post:

As a netiquette expert, it doesn’t surprise me that 90 percent of cell phone users think they have good mobile manners. Do you?

Well, do you? Do you have any ideas for how bad smartphone etiquette can be improved, or has that train left the station? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


Read Next: 8 Great Travel Freebies You Can Get in 2017

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,018 more deals!