Sunday, 11 December 2011

Mobile Phones & Social Etiquette

I was listening to Gala Darling's Love & Sequins no. 4 podcast on manners and etiquette the other day, and it made me start thinking a lot about the use of our smart phones at the dinner table. I would like to think that I am polite enough not to be guilty of this, but then I realised that I am guilty of using my Blackberry in some situations at the table. That got me thinking about the role of smart phones in todays totally wired society; we use our phones to email, call, text, bbm, browse the web, tweet, update our blogs, take phones and depending on the model of your phone, for example in Pizza Express there is now an app you can use to pay your bill. 
When I am eating a meal at home, or out for a meal with my family I would never use my phone, both because I know it is impolite and because I know my Dad absolutely can't stand it. The only exception to this is when one of us is expecting an important call, but as soon as that call has been taken (away from the table) all phones are switched off. 
When I am out for a meal with a friend I let the same rules apply, though thinking about it, when I am out for tea or a meal with one of my two best friends, we both use our Blackberry's throughout the meal, but I don't think it affects conversation. I think it is because we know each other so well and it is almost a much more relaxed environment than with other friends we don't seem to see it as a problem. However, with large groups of friends or friends I'm not as in sync with I love Gala's suggestion in the podcast of having a no phones at a meal rule with groups of friends at least until the bill arrives. The photo at the top of this post was taken by my mother at my 18th Birthday dinner. Enough said about my friends and I... 

One situation I can think of, however, if you're in a group and it is not just the two of you having tea or a meal where I think it is acceptable to be using your smartphone, is if you are out with other bloggers or other such internet type people. I think if you are in a group where everyone has the mindset where it is considered completely normal to be always plugged in to the point where what is happening on your handsets becomes a part of the conversation you're having, as long as you don't have the thing surgically grafted to you it is okay to be occasionally using it. Not having whole conversations with people though, I'm talking about occasionally Tweeting and reading any email that comes in, saving them to reply to later. 

Are you guilty of using your phone at the table? What situations (if any) do you think it is okay to be using your phone during a meal? 


  1. I sometimes use my phone at the table at home, or if I'm out for a nandos with my boyfriend/best friends. I don't use it if I'm out for any special occasion, or if we have people over for dinner as I do think that's a bit rude. My brother drives me mad 'cause he'll use his any time, we were out for a meal the other week with my other brother and his fiances parents and he was playing on his under the table - just looked very rude. Interesting post :) x

  2. I was out with my friends last night, having food.. and we were all talking, chatting having a laugh etc, but every one of them had their phones on the table checking them every five mins.. kinda annoying really lol! Weird how much this generation relies on them!

    The Deer Head


  3. Guilty. Really guilty. I know it's annoying and I try not to do it. A lot of my friends are guilty too though so we basically just look like an group of anti social people all together haha. The only time I'm not doing it is when I'm with my boyfriend.
    But it's not okay, and I hate myself for doing it. I feel alone if I'm out with a friend and she's paying more attention to her phone than me..

  4. Really good post. I like to think that I don't do this, but let's be honest, if I am out with my two best friends in a place like Nando's, our phones are probably all on the table. Guilty you said? ; )

    E x

  5. I use my phone all the time. I'm constantly messing on it at work and in lectures, I can't help it.. it's like an addiction! I don't get annoyed if other people are on their phones though, unless it's really affecting conversation. It usually isn't.

  6. You have totally reminded me about my Blackberry use in lectures and seminars - I'm awful about it! That being said, I don't do it at uni unless I'm bored! I did not touch it once in my lecture on Friday!

  7. I used to be really strict with myself about never using my phone at the table but since getting an iPhone I know I've slipped a little and do find myself firing off a quick text/email although I always put my phone away once the food arrives as that definitely is rude! I think it totally depends on who you're with and where you are as to how rude or acceptable it is....if my date started texting/Tweeting mid-conversation I'd find it pretty unacceptable! x

  8. Actually, you're right. I never, ever did it before I got a smart phone!

  9. I think the most important thing is to take into account the feelings of the person or people you are with. I try to keep my phone away from the table when with my parents or boyfriend, as none of them have smart phones and they would definitely consider it rude if I was on my phone at dinner (as opposed to all of the rest of the time when they let it slide!) However when I'm with my bff we both are on our iphones all the time, and we will usually be tweeting each other at the same time as talking!

    For me it totally depends on the company, and above all it's just about being courteous to your friends and loved ones.

  10. I'm guilty of this with friends. Like you, I would never do this if I was out with family for dinner or lunch. I guess when I'm out with other bloggers, which is more often than not, we're all on our phones anyway, so no one really notices. But when I'm out with other friends I usually have to control my hand from reaching for my phone.

  11. My dad goes mad if you check your phone even around him never mind at the table.

    My friend is permanently on her phone even when you are trying to tell her a serious conversation. Its seriously annoying. I don't sit texting if I'm out with my friends and they are talking the only time is if they go to the bar or whatever. I am guilty of texting while I have a wee when I'm out though haha. That way no one gets mad at you checking your phone.


  12. I always use my phone at the table or when in company of friends, and so they do. I think (in my friendship group at least) it's the norm to be constantly tweeting and social networking. I think it's rude to have a phone call - unless important - whilst you're in other peoples company but only because it interrupts the conversation. With tweeting, replying to texts etc I find it doesn't interrupt or ruin the atmosphere.

    My family are a bit different. The older generations often tell the younger family members to get off their phones and generally we put them away but there's no set 'no phones at the table' rule.

    Great post! I really enjoyed reading everyones comments. x

  13. i use my phone at the table only when out with friends, and usually its to arrange someone else to come and meet us or simply to check the time! i would never do it if i was with my family. when i was in kenya it was so strange, people really love technology and phones there, but you can be thrown out of a restaurant just for having your phone on the table!