5 Rules of Netiquette for National Cell Phone Courtesy Month


Rules of Netiquette for National Cell Phone Courtesy MonthAs July marks National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, it’s time to pause and take notice on how discourteous we’ve become as we continue to spend the majority of our time attached to our smart phones.

According to the International Telecommunications Union, 6.1 trillion SMS messages were sent in 2010. In addition, there’s an estimated 5.3 billion mobile subscribers worldwide. Analysts at Wireless Intelligence predict mobile phone usage will hit 6 billion subscribers by 2012.

It’s no wonder with these numbers that cell phone etiquette, now known as netiquette is on the decline. So without further digital adieu, here are 5 Rules of Netiquette to abide by for mobile phone etiquette.

No text or tweet is worth dying for

Driving while tweeting? Think again. In some states, it’s illegal to use your mobile phone without a headset. It’s not just the expensive ticket, but there have been numerous cases of car accidents reported from those who didn’t take the time to pull over to the side of the road.  In the summer of 2010, Celebrity surgeon, Dr. Frank Ryan, known for being Heidi Montag’s plastic surgeon was killed in a car accident. His mobile phone showed that he had just tweeted prior to the incident about his dog.  It was a digital death that probably could have been prevented. In 2008, 25 passengers on a Los Angeles metrolink train were killed because the engineer was texting while he should have been driving the train. It was a horrific tragedy and should be a lesson.


Don’t play texting games


If someone sends you a text message, be courteous and reply in a prompt timeframe. What’s considered prompt? 1-3 hours, if you’re cell phone is handy. If you believe the response should be handled in a conversation, pick up the phone and call the other party. Remember, an SMS (short message service) is limited to 160 characters. Waiting a day or two to return a text message, no matter how busy you are, is a digital game you shouldn’t sign up to play. Tag, you’re it does get old after awhile.


Keep it private while in public

If you’re waiting for an important phone call, let the person you’re meeting with know. Attending a film, live theatrical performance or sporting event? Remember to put your cell phone on vibrate. Better yet, turn it off completely. The digital world will probably survive for a few hours and the other patrons will appreciate not being interrupted. Waiting for the movie to start? We don’t want to hear your conversation. Walk to the lobby and make your last call before the film starts.

Your mobile phone isn’t an accessory

Unless you’re at a social networking conference, where you have permission to tweet and text to your merriment, don’t leave your cell phone on the table in a meeting or while dining. According to a Zoosk survey, 86% of singles said that constantly glancing at a cell phone was the most offensive mobile-related behavior, worse than sending a text. One-third of their members polled actually walked out on their dates due to bad cell phone etiquette. In the workplace, if you’re interviewing for your dream job, glancing at your phone or having the interviewer hear the chirping sounds of your text messages, will only show that someone else is more important than your next employer.  When in doubt, don’t.

To text, or not to text

Running late? If you find yourself stuck in traffic, or know you’ll be late for an appointment or personal engagement, a sending a text to let the person know will always be appreciated. However, thanking someone after a job interview via text is a netiquette no-no.

At the end of the digital day, netiquette is all about being courteous. Your cell phone should be used as a communication tool in conjunction with real-time conversation, not as a complete substitute.

Do you have any cell phone pet peeves? Comments and thoughts are welcome.

Julie Spira is a netiquette expert and author of The Rules of Netiquette: How to Mind Your Manners on the Web. Follow her on Twitter @JulieSpira and @netiquetterules. For more netiquette rules, like us at Facebook.com/RulesofNetiquette

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