Smartphones have permeated every part of our lives. We are absorbed by them even when we’re walking, we check them when we’re waiting in lines, and even consult them the minute we have a question (before trying to remember the answer first). With so much reliance on our phones for everything from social interaction to information gathering, it’s important to establish some ground rules that ensure we don’t spend more time interacting with our phones than the real world around us. After all, our smartphones are meant to be accessories to our lives, not our lives themselves.
Here are some essential rules to help you know how and when it’s appropriate to use your phone in the workplace, at home, and in public:
5 Rules for Using Your Smartphone in the Workplace
- Check Your Phone Only on Breaks. When you’re at work, you’re getting paid to work. Not to spend time playing around on your smartphone. Unless it’s work related, or unless you have an emergency and are waiting to receive a phone call, it’s only fair that you don’t use your phone until you have a break.
- If It’s Not Business, It’s Personal. When you’re at work, you will want to tuck your phone away, even if you’re not checking it. If management sees it out, it’s assumed you’re using it.
- Don’t Abuse Smartphone Privileges. Some companies don’t mind if their employees shoot off a quick text message from time to time. The problem is that some employees don’t stop there. Remember that just because your management is lenient about text messages, it doesn’t mean they’ll be okay with you playing Candy Crush between tasks!
- Keep Management in the Loop. If you need to make a personal call or have your phone around for an emergency, let your manager know what’s going on. This way, he or she will know you don’t intend to use your smartphone for any reason other than the one you mentioned.
5 Rules for Using Your Smartphone at Home
- Don’t Bring Your Phone to Bed. If you’re in a relationship and sharing a bed with your significant other, strongly consider banning smart phones from your bed. You should be cuddling and basking in your lovey-dovey couple’s happiness, not rummaging through social media updates or texting other people. (Even better, relegate your phones to charge overnight in another room than your bedroom.)
- Be Respectful. Whether you live with roommates or a partner, know that the home is a place everyone should be able to go to unwind. Make sure not to play games on your smartphone with the sound turned up or answer a call in the same room as someone else is trying to relax.
- Don’t Talk in the Bathroom. There’s nothing like being on the other end of the line and hearing the flush of a toilet. No one wants to picture you doing private things while speaking to them about Saturday night’s dinner plans.
- Don’t Text Message Someone in the Next Room. If you have something to ask someone who is in the same house as you are, ask them in person. If you send a text message, instead, you may be considered passive-aggressive.
- Observe Quiet Time. When other people in your home have gone to bed for the night, turn off the sound on your phone, so as not to disturb the silence. And if you need to take a phone call, make sure you do so in a place where you won’t wake anyone up.
5 Rules for Using Your Smartphone in Public
- Watch Your Volume. Your smartphone has all sorts of alert noises – from notification sounds to those of incoming calls. Think about it: If everyone in your location were to receive alerts simultaneously, each with a unique sound, there would be absolute chaos. An easy way to avoid contributing to this? Switch your phone to vibrate when you’re in public.
- Take Your Calls Outside. Whether you’re in a café, restaurant, or at a friend’s house, you should take your phone conversations outside. If it’s not possible to move outside, at least excuse yourself from whomever you’re with and go somewhere where you can speak freely without disturbing anyone around you.
- Give Your Friend a Head’s Up. If you’re out with a friend, let him or her know from the outset that your time with him or her may be interrupted. Generally, it’s polite to keep your phone off the table and give your friend your undivided attention, but the importance of an emergency situation might demand an exception. You can simply give your friend a brief explanation as to what’s happening, so that he or she understands why the communication is worth interrupting your time together. Then, when you do receive the phone call or text message, make sure to apologize to your friend before proceeding to respond to it.
- Consider Your Location. If you’re in a bus or a train or some other tight space with others, try to avoid phone conversations. No one should be forced to listen to your entire conversation. But if you must speak on the phone, make the conversation as brief as possible and keep the language clean!
- Don’t Talk at Checkout. It’s considered exceptionally rude to talk on the phone while you’re making a payment transaction at a place such as a cafe or a grocery store. Some businesses will even refuse a potential customer service if he or she walks up to a clerk while on the phone. Put your phone away for the minute it will take to check out.
When it comes to smartphones, everyone seems to have a different opinion as to what constitutes proper conduct. At iSupportU, we want to ensure your relationship with technology enhances your life and doesn’t detract from it. If you stick with these rules, you’ll at least have some guidelines to follow that aren’t likely to change any time soon, giving you a foundation for proper smartphone etiquette.