Mobile etiquette-how we behave on and with our smartphones, tablets and laptops-is on the decline, according to a new study sponsored by Intel, a company that helps power a number of the devices with which we continue to offend one another. Sadly, with manners, a sense of personal responsibility is apparently also on the decline. While 92 percent of those surveyed said they wish that others would practice better mobile device etiquette, nearly 1 in 5 admitted that they continue the same bad behaviors because "everyone else is doing it."
Major mobile pet peeves, according to the report, are the same as those that annoyed people responding to a similar survey in 2009. Topping the list was the use of devices while driving (according to 73 percent of those surveyed), talking loudly in public places (65 percent) and using a device while walking (28 percent).
As these devices are still relatively novel, it's little surprise we're still figuring out how best to integrate them in our lives, Genevieve Bell, an Intel Fellow and head of interaction and experience research at Intel Labs, said in a Feb. 25 statement.
"New digital technologies are becoming a mainstay in consumers' lives, but we haven't yet worked out for ourselves, our families, communities and societies what all the right kinds of behaviors and expectations will be," Bell said.
Bell added that Intel hopes to use the results of the survey to understand what people care about and so to drive innovation and technology development. "Our appropriate digital technology behaviors are still embryonic," she said.
Such embryonic behaviors have led to any number of inappropriate "public displays of technology," as Intel cutely calls them. Among those surveyed, 91 percent have seen someone use a mobile device in what's generally considered an inappropriate location. At 56 percent, behind the wheel topped the list, followed by public restrooms (48 percent), movie theaters (32 percent) and on a honeymoon (9 percent).
Twenty-four percent of adults say they've seen someone using a laptop while driving, encouraging, says Intel, a new form of "road rage" or public-geared violence-a theory that 74 percent of Americans agree with. Separately, 65 percent of those surveyed said they've become angry with someone for using their mobile devices inappropriately.
Our collective bad behaviors were fodder for the Windows Phone 7 ad campaign Microsoft launched in October 2010. Following shots of stupid, careless and grossly unhygienic smartphone misuses-staring into their phones, a scuba diver is oblivious to a shark, an older woman tumbles down a flight of steps, a dude drops his phone in a urinal and resumes using it-a voice(over) of reason intones: "It's time for a phone to save us from our phones."
It's also time, says etiquette expert Anna Post of The Emily Post Institute, to be more cognizant of how our device use affects those around us, whether at home, in the office or in public.
Some guidelines to keep in mind, says Post, include practicing what you preach: Don't engage in others' bad behaviors. Also, be present, giving your full attention to those you're with at the moment. Before making or placing a call, text or e-mail, consider if your actions affect others, and if so, wait or move away first. And lastly, let private places, like restrooms, remain private.
"The premise of etiquette and how we socialize with one another is not a new concept," said Post. "Whenever we interact with another person directly or through the use of mobile technology, etiquette is a factor."