Smartphone Etiquette—What Would Emily Post Do?

It is a different world out there, people! Long gone are the days when you could leave the house and not have access to the phone, your email, or even (for the love of Harry) your Twitter feed. These days information is omnipresent, always at your fingertips, and you know, the itch to check your Instagram feed is sometimes so overwhelming...

There is a definite need for a smart phone standard of etiquette, I should say. We've all been there, haven't we? In the middle of a long and painfully detailed story when suddenly our captive audience pauses to look down at a text message and then, while you're still trailing on, stops paying attention entirely to reply back? And you sort of look around and wonder, "What is the proper thing to do in this situation? Do I keep talking? Is this not rude? Or is this the new normal?"

1. "Hang On, I Have To Take This." Is it ever appropriate to take a phone call or respond to a text message mid conversation? How about on a dinner date? Emily Post says Yes! If the phone call comes during dinner, excuse yourself and take the call in another room, but only take the important calls, and set your phone to vibrate so the ringer isn't irritating to those around you. (Afraid you won't make it out before the call goes to voicemail? Answer the phone and ask, "Can you hang on a second?" until you can get away.)

Related: 10 things you should NEVER say to a mom

2. Is Any Place Sacred? As a general rule, Emily Post says you should never take or make a call in the following places: a library, a theatre, in church, or at the table in a restaurant.

3. Keep It In Con-Text. When texting, be hyper aware of the fact that anything you type in with your thumbs can be seen by anyone.

4. And Furthermore... Emily Post says text messages are never the appropriate medium for relaying bad news, business matters, or other timely information.

5. You Don't Always Have To Answer. Remember back in the day when we didn't have caller ID? And if someone called and you didn't answer you were out of luck? And you'd just never know who called? It's not like that anymore. You can let that call go to voicemail.

6. Cell Phones On The Table. Cell phones are awfully uncomfortable in your back pocket when you're sitting down, but that doesn't mean you should EVER take it out and set it on the table. A cell phone on the table is a clear indication that you only intend to be engaged so long as nobody more interesting is attempting to contact you.

7. The Facts Are Startling! According to, 80% of people polled reported feeling irritated when seeing a mobile device in places such as the doctors office, the grocery store, or in an elevator, and yet 77% of people polled admitted to using mobile devices in these same locations. People, it's an epidemic! (I always check my email in the elevator, it's like I'm Pavlov's dog. Ding! Do I have an email?)

Related: 25 map inspired crafts to make

8. How Many Times A Day? issues a challenge to mobile abusers to count the number of times a day we use our phones in a way that would be considered "rude" to others, and then slowly work towards zero. I thought about it, and if I were to count my abuses, the number would be stupidly high. (Hello, Instagram addict!) ("I just have to pick a filter first!")

9. Can You Hear Me Now?! Be in control of your cell phone voice. These days, phones are high tech enough to pick up your melodious tones even when you're speaking softly. So, in other words, please don't shout into your phone. Shouting is never polite.

10. Check Your Ringtone. Offensive ringtones rank way up there as the most irritating part of cell phones, and that is saying something. Resist the urge to download the latest Lady Gaga jam and instead opt for something soft, understated, and classic. (Or else just leave it on vibrate at all times.)

11. What Can You Do If Someone's Cell Phone Is Irritating You? It's tricky, but there IS a polite way to respectfully handle someone else's poor phone manners: Get up and politely excuse yourself from the area.

Learn how Emily post would send an e-vite, at Babble!


18 creative family picture poses
10 movies I can't watch now that I'm a mom
20 things you can live without
10 tech relics we're going to have to explain to our kids
24 habits of highly annoying toddlers (who we love anyway)

Stay connected. Follow Babble on Facebook and Twitter.