Keep it off the table. Don’t shout. And be courteous at all times.
Ninety-four percent of us have them. And, on average we spend 16 hours of
every day with them.
What are we talking about? Cell phones. They're our digital best friends
and we count on them to keep us in touch with other friends, answer
questions, pay for stuff, guide us, take photos and videos – oh and a
thousand other things most probably.
But while they may be our most dependable buddy, they're also a tool that,
if used inappropriately, can spread anger and frustration like wildfire.
We're talking about users who intrude into our lives every day with their
loud voices, infringement of our privacy, rule-breaking and impoliteness.
Whatever happened to cell phone courtesy? It went out the window with our
consideration of the needs and concerns of others in our boisterous, noisy
Not only that, but cell phone usage is also a killer – when devices are
used to text while driving. Distracted driving – mainly caused by cell
phone use -- accounts for a portion of the 3,600 people killed on
California's roads every year. In a single year, more than 30,000 people in
our state were convicted of texting while driving.
Well, July offers a good opportunity to try to put things right, or at
least to improve on the current situation. It's Cell Phone Courtesy Month.
Founded in 2002 by etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore, it's not an
official, government backed initiative. But the fact that it has survived
for 17 years without official support is testimony to public concern about
cell phone courtesy and distracted driving.
And it's surely worthy of our attention, since most of us will, at some
time, have broken the rules of cell phone etiquette.
Our Top 10 Tips
Most people have their own set of ideas about what constitutes cell phone
courtesy (and some simply don’t care). So, here's our list drawn from a
series of etiquette and safety experts – plus a pinch of common sense:
when you're with others. Ideally switch it off but, at the very least,
switch it to vibrate when a call or message comes in. Use voicemail so
you don't miss important calls. You might make an exception if you're
expecting an important call – but if you do that, warn the people
you're with in advance and then excuse yourself when the call comes in.
. Don’t even put your phone on a table when you're in a meeting, or
even a date. Putting your phone on show says, "I brought a friend along
and I will be paying it frequent attention instead of focusing on you."
And if you think your companions can't see you checking your phone
under the table, you're totally wrong, and you're insulting them.
Use your indoor voice
. How many times have you been irritated by being drawn into someone's
phone conversation -- "cell yell" as it’s called -- as they seem to
think they're acting on-stage? Sometimes, they add to the dramatic
effect by pacing around and gesturing as they talk.
Public transport, airports, restaurants, on the street or outside our
homes – public restrooms even -- we've all been there and heard them.
Unless it's a bad connection, the other party can hear you almost as
well as if you were standing next to them. And don't get angry in a
public setting. Find somewhere secluded or postpone the conversation.
Think before you send
that text or email. If it's not urgent, pause while you weigh up
whether you've clearly said what you meant and whether the recipient
might take offense. And make sure it's headed to the right person
before hitting that "Send" button. Using "Reply all" or simply keying
in the wrong name can lead to big-time embarrassment.
If you're asked to silence your phone, in a theater for instance, then
do so – and don’t switch it on silently to check for messages during
the show. Spotting a phone-screen light is surely one of the most
infuriating experiences in a theater. Well maybe the noisy popcorn
crunchers and rustlers are worse!
Then, there are also places where signs are posted forbidding the use
of cell phones, most notably in medical buildings. They're there for a
reason so please do as you're asked.
Turn it down
. Playing a game, watching a video, listening to music. When you need
some volume, keep it low. Better yet, use headphones and avoid your
sound from annoying anyone else.
Don't shop and speak.
Hopefully you're not one of those people who think it's perfectly
acceptable to engage in a phone call while they interact with the
salesclerk. It's not just the cashier who will be offended. So will be
everyone else watching you.
. Even though cell phone etiquette requires you to silence your phone,
check your voicemail and messages as soon as it's polite to do so, and
reply where appropriate. Some people seem to think they don’t need to
reply or acknowledge a message. There might be times when that's
acceptable but mostly you should respond. Otherwise, it's like having a
face-to-face conversation or live call and just staying silent when
. Some people have developed the habit of whipping out their cell phone
when they walk into a social group, as a way of deflecting attention
and avoiding those embarrassing "here I am" introductions. This doesn’t
work because everyone knows what you're doing. Grit your teeth and get
Don’t text (or call) and drive
. Just don't. In California, it's against the law to use a handheld
phone while driving. That means no checking, no texts, tweets, emails
or anything else that requires you to hold your phone. And under-18s
can't even use hands-free systems. But, for the rest of us, experience
shows that even the use of hands-free devices can cause distracted
driving and the accidents that often follow. Research shows that, on
average, phone users reply to a text within three minutes – but if
you're behind the wheel, that sort of response might cost you or others
Are you guilty of one or more of the above points? Don’t worry. Most of us
have at some time, but don’t stop trying to use cell phone courtesy – not
just in July but all the time.
Just as importantly, consider sharing this blog with friends and families.
Cell phones are here to stay and the more we encourage courteous use, the
And finally, since your phone is such an important "friend" are you looking
after it properly? That means protecting it, backing up your data, and
Insuring it? Yes, because while your home insurance might cover you for
theft or damage – though you'll still have to pay a deductible – it won’t
protect you against losing your phone.
If you need to know more about cell phone or other insurance, please speak
to us at Aldrich Taylor Insurance!