6 Solutions to Bad Smartphone Etiquette

Photo (cc) by drukelly

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.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
17 Surprising Things You Can Clean in a Dishwasher
17 Surprising Things You Can Clean in a Dishwasher

It’s often easier and faster to put these household items in the dishwasher than to clean them by hand.

The Most Common Reason That Older Adults Fall Down
The Most Common Reason That Older Adults Fall Down

The good news: It’s possible to avoid potentially devastating falls.

7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors
7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors

These accounts offer exclusive discounts and other perks — including interest — to older customers.

10 Mistakes That Cost You Money at Warehouse Stores
10 Mistakes That Cost You Money at Warehouse Stores

Wholesale clubs might have great deals, but these mistakes will cost you.

11 Signs That You Chose the Wrong Place to Retire
11 Signs That You Chose the Wrong Place to Retire

Health and happiness in retirement rely on some key factors.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

This iconic dinnerware is prized for everyday use as well as reselling for profit.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken
Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken

Something foul may lurk in those delicious, ready-to-eat birds.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make
7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make

Sometimes a big-ticket purchase is nothing more than a big waste of money.

5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.