Love them or hate them, smartphones are an integral part of our everyday modern lives. They tell us what the weather is going to be like, what the current news is, and what our friends have been up to lately. Cell phones have the ability to pay for things, they can serve as tickets to get on planes and trains, and they can provide temporary entertainment when you’re waiting for your dry cleaning or you’re in between meetings. They also store our memories and hold all the information about our schedules. In other words, they are completely impossible to ignore most of the time.
Because these little devices are such a big part of our lives, there are certain rules of etiquette that have been established, like not using your phone during dinner or during an important meeting.
In order to find out more about smartphone etiquette, we surveyed a group of Americans to find out exactly what these etiquette rules were—and whether or not people were actually following them. Here are some of the surprising results that we found.
The Addiction is Real
We all know that smartphones are addictive, but the numbers in our survey are really telling. A large majority of Americans (92%) believe that smartphone addiction is real. Although 60% of Americans think they touch their phone 100 times or less per day, the reality is that a typical user taps, touches, or swipes their phone a staggering 2,617 times per day. And 43% of Millennials in our survey say they check their phone at least every 20 minutes.
So, what are we spending our time looking at on our phones? Texts are the number one priority notification, followed by a phone call, email, a message on messenger, FaceTime, Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, and then lastly, a dating app.
Smartphone Etiquette in the Workplace (or Lack Thereof)
When we’re at work, we’re expected to be focused on the task at hand—or at least be connecting with our colleagues. However, many workers struggle to do this when they’re overly distracted by their cell phones. In our survey, 20% of respondents indicated that they check their phone at least once every 20 minutes at work.
And although 70% of our respondents said it’s the proper etiquette to have your smartphone put away during a meeting, 53% said they do it anyway. Our survey overwhelmingly indicated that it was inappropriate to actually check a phone during a meeting (with 80% agreeing to that statement), but 50% admitted to doing it. What’s worse is that 10% of our respondents said they had their phone out during an interview and a whopping 77% said they bring their phone into the bathroom at work.
Smartphone Etiquette in Public
There are certain unofficial (as well as official) rules in place for using your phone in public in order to keep us safe and stop us from being rude. As a collective society, it’s considered a faux pas to look at your phone while talking to a friend and it’s considered unsafe to look at your phone while you’re walking somewhere in public—but that doesn’t mean that we follow our own “rules.”
For example, it is pretty universally rude to look over a stranger’s shoulder to read the text on their phone screen, but 40% of our survey respondents said they’ve done it anyway. It’s also a bit rude—and not to mention dangerous—to read your phone and walk at the same time, but 51% of our respondents said they have done this while other people are walking behind them.
Reading your phone can get especially dangerous when crossing an intersection. And although 79% of our survey said it’s not appropriate to do so, 49% indicated they’ve gone ahead and done it despite the potential consequences. In addition to crossing the street, it’s also dangerous and illegal to use your phone while driving—but 54% of our survey admitted to texting while driving.
There are also rules surrounding taking photographs on your phone in public. Our phones are equipped with high-quality lenses, but we should be careful when deciding when to use them. Three-quarters of our survey respondents said they were hesitant or embarrassed to take a selfie in public, but 49% of those surveyed also said they had taken a photo of a stranger in public without their knowledge; some have even shared it on social media or with friends or family.
Our respondents also admitted to other bad or annoying behavior with their phones, such as talking on the phone while using public transportation (57%), using their phone in a theater (49%), or even having their phone out on the first date (30%).
According to our survey results, it looks like we might have a long way to go when it comes to improving our smartphone etiquette—but knowing the numbers can hopefully help us fix our less-than-polite behavior.