Are Dinner Time "Phone Breaks" Good Tech Etiquette?

Are Dinner Time "Phone Breaks" Good Tech Etiquette?

Taryn Williford
Apr 19, 2011

First of all, we've got to say we love what David Carr has done over at He's drafted his very own guide to smartphone manners. Just like a mission statement, there's no one-size-fits-all guide to propriety in touchy techy social situatons. In that spirit, we have one point of contention with his list: The idea that you should take "phone breaks" when you're out eating with company.

In his Guide to Smartphone Manners, Carr makes a sweeping rule that phones should be put away during mealtime with company. But he adds this concession:

2. Phones should remain put-away during dinner and lunch with friends, but it should also be permissible to ask for and take a mutual "phone break" if the meal goes on for longer than an hour.

I have to say I disagree. With both parts of his statement, actually.

It's becoming common courtesy in this world of 24/7 connectedness to silence your phone during a business lunch or a meeting with a new acquaintance. But it's not always necessary when you're out with familiar friends. There's no umbrella rule to say when and where you need to shelve your phone. You'll need to make that call (ha!) on your own.

And as for this "phone break"? It's not necessary. If you've already decided your company's attention is more important than the interruptions from your device, there should be no need to organize a break to get caught up with outside life. Either it's OK to look at your phone during dinner, or it's not.

And if you really desperately need a phone break, just wait until your guest heads to the loo.

What do you think? Are you in favor of a "phone break" during long dinners? Tell us in the comments! via Lifehacker

(Images: Flickr member Adam Mulligan licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member Joi licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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