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5 Safety and Etiquette Rules for Using Mobile Devices in Public

While nobody will argue over the positive impact smartphones, tablets, and mobile devices have had on society, it’s difficult to ignore some of the negative effects that have come with the integration of technology in our daily lives. Whether it’s somebody talking too loudly on the subway or texting while driving, there are certain etiquette and safety rules people need to follow.

Start by Understanding the Goals

With most things in life, there should be specific goals and desired outcomes. In the case of using mobile devices in public, there are three primary goals:

  • Safety. First and foremost, safety is the goal. While hearing someone talk loudly on a phone in the bus seat next to you is annoying, it’s nothing compared to the dangers of texting and driving. When using a mobile device in public, the safety of yourself and others is the main concern.
  • Prudence. Nobody wants to know you’re using your device in public. Bystanders certainly don’t want to know what you’re doing on your device. Being as discreet as possible should be one of the main goals.
  • Respect. Finally, you should respect those around you when using a mobile device in public. This means not distracting, ignoring, or bothering other people.


Follow These 5 Rules

With the goals of safety, prudence, and respect in mind, follow these safety and etiquette rules:

  • Use your silence button. For those with a new iPhone 6, there’s a handy little ring/silent switch on the side of the device that allows you to control the volume of your phone and silence a ring without even pulling it out of your pocket. Use this feature to your advantage and adjust the volume of your phone depending on where you are. Better yet, keep your phone on vibrate 100 percent of the time you’re in public.
  • Don’t hog charging stations.  Because mobile devices are so prevalent, many airports and coffee shops have complimentary charging stations. While they’re there to use, don’t hog them for hours on end. Get what you need and move on.
  • Stop texting and eating. The dangers of texting and driving are pretty well understood, but what about the stupidity of texting and eating? Nothing is more disrespectful than reading emails or texts under the table while eating with another person. Keep your device in your pocket or purse and excuse yourself from the table if there’s a pressing matter.
  • Get a professional ring tone. If you need to have your ringtone on for some reason, make sure it’s professional. Blasting a One Direction song in a crowded lobby is probably inappropriate – plus, didn’t they just break up? A standard telephone ring or basic tone is all you need.
  • Avoid using your phone in theatres. A dark movie theater is not the place to use your phone. Not only is the light distracting to others, but the stark contrast isn’t good for your eyes. Heed the advice of the theatre and put your phone on silent.

Be a Responsible Mobile User

When used correctly, mobile devices are not only appropriate, but also incredibly safe and powerful. By keeping the goals of mobile device usage in mind and following these simple rules, you can ensure you aren’t offending or hurting those around you. Maybe it’s a lot to ask, but wouldn’t it be nice if everyone understood the proper way to use their phones and tablets?