Phone etiquette: How not to lose friends

By Marie Jackson
BBC News

Image source, EPA

They're the first thing many of us look at in the morning and the last thing at night. Our phones are never far from our side and we're checking them every 12 minutes, according to Ofcom.

It's a love affair that looks set to last so we've come up with five rules of phone use worth observing - from no phones at dinnertime to turning it off at the checkout.

Thou shalt not....

1. Talk on the phone at mealtimes

An absolute no-no for most (81%) of us - yet half of us have been with others who've done it. And more than a quarter (26%) of young adults admit to it.

"They should always be off and out of sight during meals, meetings and parties," insists Diana Mather, of The English Manner consultancy.

"The person you're with is the person who's the most important. None of us is indispensable."

And, if you need proof of what it can do for relationships, Gareth Southgate's boys - hailed for their team ethos - put their phones to one side during team meals and unexpectedly made it to the World Cup semi-finals. A coincidence? Well, maybe.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
No phones at the table for England

But even looking at the screen at the dinner table is not on - for some.

More than four in five people aged 55 and over think it's unacceptable to check notifications, compared with around half (46%) of 18 to 34-year-olds.

2. Listen to loud music on public transport

That tinny drone from the top deck of the bus screeching out of a mobile speaker - it's known as sodcasting.

And it applies to watching videos and playing video games loudly, as well as listening to music.

Three-quarters (76%) of us object to it - but it doesn't stop us doing it.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

3. Be on the phone when you should be listening

You're at the till but on the phone mid-conversation. Do you hang up, say a polite "hello" and graciously pack away your bread and clementines - or chat on regardless?

It's a source of frustration for many a shop worker, receptionist and waiter. One Sainsbury's checkout worker was so incensed when a customer refused to end her call that she refused to serve her. The supermarket apologised.

Media caption,
When should you hang up your phone?

"Texting and talking is so rude," says manners expert Diana Mather.

"We're still animals - the pheromones, the charisma, the aura - if we're not concentrating on each other, we're wasting a huge opportunity to get to know each other better."

John McDonnell's colleagues might have missed out on getting to know the shadow chancellor a little better during this Commons session.

He had something to say on the 2016 Autumn Statement - but not all his colleagues were catching those pheromones.

4. Walk while looking at your phone

They've got their head down, eyes peeled to the screen - and they're right in your path. Internally you're screaming Look up! Look up! But no - it's the pavement slalom again - dodging in and out of pedestrians in the phone zone.

Image source, Reuters

And Twitter user @tiredhorizon has a public warning for them. Put away your phones in public buildings, hospitals and near reversing lorries.

He describes having to push huge bins around them and has seen them get in the way of porters pushing patients in hospital beds. Not good.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

5. Fiddle with devices while watching TV with others

Image source, Getty Images

This rule, it seems, is up for negotiation. Four in 10 (41%) adults think it's unacceptable to use a phone while curled up with the family on the sofa in front of Strictly.

For the older generation (those over 55) it's more of an issue - 62% object to it - than for younger adults - only one in five have a problem with it.

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