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Silence Your Phone, Please?

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A new poll shows the changing social norms around cell-phone use and the challenges of maintaining mobile-phone etiquette.

Do you use your phone during social gatherings? If the answer is yes, you’re in good company.

According to the latest Pew Research Center poll on mobile device etiquette, 89 percent of the 3,217 poll respondents stated that they used their cell phone during their most recent group outing.

Most indicated they used their phone for a reason they believed benefits the collective such as taking a picture or video (45 percent); sharing the group activity via text, email, or social media (41 percent); or to obtain information they thought would be interesting to others in the party (38 percent).

Sixteen percent said they used their phone to disengage because they were no longer interested in what the group was doing, and 10 percent stated they used their phone to avoid participating in a group discussion.

While the results indicate a lot of Americans use their phones during social interactions, 82 percent believe mobile-phone usage may be harmful or distracting to group dynamics.

Women (41 percent) were more likely than men (32 percent) to feel cell-phone use during social gatherings hurts the group, while those over age 50 (45 percent) were more likely than younger cell-phone users to believe cell-phone use negatively affects group conversations (29 percent).

People of all ages generally believe that using a phone in fully public venues — such as churches, in quiet spaces like movie theaters, or during a meeting — was frowned upon.

Areas typically viewed as safe spaces for phone use are city streets (77 percent), public transit (75 percent), and lines (74 percent).

Whatever your views are on proper phone etiquette, minding your manners can be challenging in the digital age. Here are some recommendations for maintaining civility online.

If you’re looking to break free from the “always-on” phone culture, check out these tips for creating more unplugged experiences.

 

Tell Us: Do you believe cell-phone usage in public spaces is OK or not OK? Do you believe using them during group settings erodes or enhances relationships?

Heidi Wachter is a staff writer for Experience Life.

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