82% think it’s rude to use a smartphone at a social gathering, but 89% do it anyway


A Pew study on mobile etiquette found that 82% of Americans think it hurts the conversation when people use smartphones at social gatherings, but 89% did so anyway at the most recent one they attended.

When asked for their views on how mobile phone use impacts group interactions, 82% of adults say that when people use their phones in these settings it frequently or occasionally hurts the conversation […]

In spite of this […], 89% said that they themselves used their phone during their most recent time with others.

Many do at least have the excuse that some of the smartphone use is related to the gathering, 45% posting a photo or video taken there, 41% sharing something that happened there and 38% getting information they thought would be interesting the group.

The majority thought it was fine to use a smartphone while walking down the street, on public transport and while waiting in line – but not at a restaurant, at a family dinner or during a meeting. The worst places to use a smartphone were said to be a movie theater and a church.

Photo: Samsung

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  1. fqantonio - 7 years ago

    do what I say, don’t do what I do. It’s classic!

  2. PhilBoogie - 7 years ago

    1) The outcome of this study (unfortunately) doesn’t surprise me.

    2) I prefer if people don’t use it while walking. I’m a cyclist, and guesstimate that >80% of people need to brake for, hard, are watching their phone instead of participating in traffic. Same goes for other cyclist as well, obviously.

    3) I wonder how this will stack up against smartwatches in 8 years time.

    4) Why is Samsung displaying an iPhone in this picture?

    5) In order to emphasise the dislike of people using their smartphone during a social gathering, the woman should look disgruntled.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      In London it’s usually tourists staring in one direction while walking in another … The whole thing around smartwatch etiquette is something I’ve been interested in since getting my Apple Watch. So far, people don’t seem to view checking a notification as rude, but that’s mostly because the Watch still has novelty value, I think, as people tend to ask me to show it to them,

      • PhilBoogie - 7 years ago

        Ugh! London tourists not watching where they’re going. They’re likely to be Dutch¡

        But yes, hence my point #3: I wonder if it is considered rude in using smartwatches for 8 years (same lifespan as the iPhone now)

      • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

        Yeah, it’s going to be interesting to see.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      Oh, and it’s a Samsung ad for the S6 Edge, trying to claim that viewing notifications on the edge of the display is somehow less rude …

      • PhilBoogie - 7 years ago

        1) My running coach has that phone, he’s the only person I have seen with that model,

        2) Why isn’t the display viewable from the side in this picture?

        3) LOL on your comment: indeed, Samsung is completely missing the point on explaining why the ‘edged display’ is a useful innovation.

      • The thing about their edge display is you look at the display anyway so there’s nothing great about that. Plus it looks ugly. I think the ultimate solution is to look at your watch. One second look and it’s done. You wear them on your wrist. If you want to take a one second look at your phone it would have to be on the table and that’s rude.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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