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A New Set of Manners - Cell Phone Etiquette
By Douglas Stewart

Published August 8, 2008

As cell phones are becoming a part of daily life for most Americans, it has become necessary to develop a new set of manners to allow people to use these devices while being considerate to others around them.

Many areas such as airplanes and hospitals have signs posted stating that your cell phone must be turned off. These locations have installed these policies due to the fact that wireless devices can interfere with the function of equipment that these locations utilize that is important to maintaining or protecting human life. When entering one of these areas, you should immediately shut your cell phone off, no questions asked.

There are also locations that a cell phone should be shut off, even if there are no warnings posted. Examples of these “no cell phone” locations are the library, the theatre, and Sunday church services. It will be distracting to others if you are carrying on a conversation on your phone in these kinds of settings.

Whether you are in college or high school, you should turn your cell phone off whenever you enter a classroom environment. A cell phone ringing can distract attention from the subject that is being discussed. Using your cell phone in this setting is also showing a lack of respect to your instructor and the lessons that he is trying to teach.

The use of a cell phone during a wedding or a funeral is also considered poor etiquette. It is disrespectful to the family as well as to other individuals who are present at these solemn occasions. Again, you should turn your cell phone off when attending these events.

The use of cell phones in a restaurant is acceptable in certain circumstances. If you are out with a group of friends, talking on your phone is fine. If you are eating dinner with a friend or a loved one, you should turn it off so that the other person feels that your attention is totally on them. If you are having a business lunch, cell phone calls should only be answered if the call is related to the business at hand. Otherwise, you can return the call later.

As well as the cell phones themselves, your cell phone ringtone may be offensive to others as well. Today’s cell phone users have the option of picking their own ringtones, including popular songs that may not be appropriate to be played in public. If you are standing in line at the subway or bus station, the people around you may not want to hear inappropriate lyrics or loud music every time your phone rings. You should pick a more traditional ringtone that can be utilized whenever you are in a public setting.

Many of the devices also have the option that allows you to play songs while the party is waiting for you to answer the phone. Again, you should pick music that is appropriate for any person who may be calling you. For example, your boss may not want to listen to lyrics that contain obscenities while he is waiting for you to pick up. Something more traditional would be appropriate in this case as well.

Cell phone etiquette is similar to other forms of good manners. You just need to be considerate of those around you and use a little common sense when deciding the appropriate times to use your cell phone. The rest is up to you.

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