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New Survey Sheds Light On What Constitutes Modern Smartphone Etiquette

New Survey Sheds Light On What Constitutes Modern Smartphone Etiquette

Using your cell phone while walking along the sidewalk or while riding the train to work is generally considered acceptable, but what about inside the cinema while watching a movie, or while in church? A new survey by Pew Research Center aims to find out just what Americans of today consider appropriate when using cell phones, whether in public or social settings.


First, the basics -- according to Pew’s findings, 90 percent of the total adult population of the United States claim they currently own or use a cell phone. 31 percent of them are saying that they never turn their cell phones off. This is interesting because it serves as evidence that we really are now living in a world driven, or at least permeated, by cell phones of all shapes and sizes, so much that we no longer can tell if it is appropriate to keep our phone conversations private (inside a vacated room, or far from hearing distance of other people), or public (while lining up at the cafeteria, inside the elevator). 


Pew’s survey shows that 77 percent of all adult Americans felt that it was appropriate to use cell phones walking down the street, while 75 percent said it was acceptable to use them while on public transport. But when it comes to more intimate environments, the approval ratings visibly start to decrease. For instance, only 38 percent stated that using cell phones inside restaurants is acceptable. And with regards to using cell phones inside church or inside cinemas, only 4 percent and 5 percent, respectively, said it was appropriate.


Then there is the issue of varying sensitivity. What this means in a nutshell is that people have different views on how acceptable or rude a certain scenario is. You would think that people would feel using a cell phone in social settings would be impolite, but Pew’s survey shows that almost 9 out of 10 people find it acceptable. However even though many find using cell phones in social settings allowable, 82 percent of those surveyed stated that doing so would almost always affect the quality of conversations. 


And age matters too when looking at cell phone use sensitivities. 90 percent of 18 to 29 year old respondents find it appropriate to use cell phones while on public transport, while 54 percent of at least 65 year old respondents only find it acceptable. As for using cell phones in restaurants, 50 percent of younger adults find it acceptable, while 26 percent of older adults find it unacceptable.


Also, it is interesting to note how the use of cell phones has become tied to social gatherings. 45 percent said they used their cell phones to post a photo or video taken at a social event, while about 41 percent said they used their cell phones to share information about something that happened during the gathering. Even 16 percent said that they turned to their cell phones after they lost interest in the social gathering they were participating.