Study: We Know We're Total Jerks With Our Phones and We Don't Care

Study: We Know We're Total Jerks With Our Phones and We Don't Care
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Former West Coast Editor
3 min read

Rude and inconsiderate. That’s what you are when you whip out your smartphone at dinner with friends, snap food porn of your noms and Instagram it. Your grandma thinks so, at least, and, sorry, kids, she’s probably right.   

If you’re guilty of poor social cell phone etiquette, if you Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Periscope or whatever while interacting IRL with other human beings -- and if you know it’s wrong, yet there’s no shame in your game about it -- sadly, you’re far from alone.  

The sobering findings of a freshly released Pew Research Center study reveal that our attitudes are changing about when it’s acceptable to use our mobile phones and when it’s not, and not necessarily for the better. Of the more than 3,000 cell phone users surveyed as part of Pew’s recent American Trends Panel, a staggering 89 percent copped to zoning out on their mobile phones during “the most recent social gathering they attended.”

Related: 5 Rude Emails You Send Every Day

We’re talking sending and receiving texts and emails, taking pics or videos, blabbing away on calls, trolling the web, you name it, all while hanging out with people in person, real names and real faces we should probably maybe give our full, undivided attention to but don’t. Because we can’t help our sad sack selves. Because, for shame, we’re hooked on our phones like crack.

What’s worse, most of us are fully aware that staring at our precious Androids and iPhones (and what are those other phones again?) during social interactions sucks the life out of conversations -- and spoils real, genuine human connection on the whole. Of those surveyed, 82 percent think that playing with a phone during a social gathering screws the group dynamic, yet they do it anyway. Specifically, the lion’s share reported that they’re not cool with cell phone use at restaurants, family dinners, the movies, nor at meetings or in church.

Related: 7 Tips for Minding Your Manners During Conference Calls

So when is it cool to use a phone in a social scene? The majority of study participants reported that it’s all good, fine and kosher with them (well, technically “generally OK”) to use a cell phone when walking down the street, riding public transit and waiting in line. Oh, phew, because who could stomach any of those awful things anymore without constant digital distraction?

What about you? When do you think it’s perfectly alright to use a cell phone? Perhaps you’re guilty of reading this right now on your smartphone at lunch with coworkers or during a meeting? Naw, you’d never do that, right? You have better manners than that.

Related: 4 Cellphone Etiquette Mistakes You Make Everyday

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