5 Rules For Smarter Smartphone Etiquette

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Smartphone etiquette is increasingly becoming an issue out in public because many people (myself included) have the impulsive habit of checking our phones every 30 minutes, everywhere. I realize it’s important to establish some basic etiquette rules to acknowledge and practice while out with and around others...

Get It Out of Your System in the First 15 Minutes
Working in the social media field, it’s my job to tweet, Instagram, and post things in real time. I also have a habit of checking in (Foursquare) and taking photos of my food while dining out (Instagram). I find the trick is to take photos and update online within the first 15 minutes of arriving and then put my phone away for the rest of the meal or event. Another trick I have is to only check my phone on the way to the restroom; this gives me a small window of time alone for a quick email and text without being rude to others.

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Avoid Situations Where Everyone At The Table Is on Their Phone
This one is a total pet peeve of mine, and I see it happening everywhere: whole groups of friends at a dinner table not talking to one another, but focused on their cell phones. You can help alleviate the situation by engaging the whole group in a conversation, perhaps politely reminding everyone to check their phones after dinner is finished. You can’t control what other people do, but usually if you aren’t on your phone yourself, you'll at least be setting the example, and politely asking the group usually works.

No “Typed with Smartphone” Signature Excuses
Everyone is typing email with his or her smartphone these days, so it really isn't necessary to advertise an email was sent from your mobile device. Some use the signature as a preemptive explanation for terse messaging or spelling errors, but in the era of autocorrect, it's better to just slow down a little and make sure what you type uses proper spelling and a polite tone, even amongst friends. 

Don’t Message and Drive
This is a no-brainer, but can be more difficult to practice when tempted by a text, tweet, or email while on the road. It takes a lot of self-control, but I do not text, message, or post in the car. I’m already a nervous driver, so the risk of endangering myself and those around me is taken as an extremely serious consideration. I always connect my phone via Bluetooth to the car and only take calls via hands-off voice. The messages and emails can wait until I'm off the road, engine off...no ifs, ands, or buts. Another tip is to set you phone to "airplane mode" while driving, to avoid the temptation of incoming messages.

Take a Smartphone Vacation Once a Month
Once a month I power off my phone. I don’t just silence it or put it away somewhere, I completely disconnect. Your phone needs the rest and so do you. There’s something really amazing and liberating about shutting down your phone for even a few hours, perhaps even the whole day, and unplugging.

What rules do you live by for smartphone etiquette? 

(Images: Gregory Han; Shutterstock)