Beyond the mumbo jumbo text of cellphone manuals and the network plan fine print, lies an unspoken rule book of cellphone etiquette.
The guidelines to what is acceptable behavior and what is not tend to change when a person is at the work place, at school, or in a social setting.
But what exactly are those rules of cellphone etiquette?
Looking to the standard of all things proper — The Emily Post Institute — the site has a few recommendations of what to practice and what to most definitely avoid.
Emily Post prefaces its instructions of appropriate manners for cellphone use by saying, “Learn to use your phone’s features like silent ring, vibrate and voice mail to handle the times when your phone would be bothering others if it rang and you answered it.”
Silencing a phone can make the difference between a pleasant outing at the movies, restaurant, or place of worship and an embarrassing moment that results in heads turning to look back while the person in question scrambles to turn off his or her phone. Disrupting an entire group from its activity and drawing attention to one’s blaring cellphone is a habit best to avoid.
Not only is a silent phone usually a safe solution, but so is a speaking softly, according to Emily Post.
Similar rules that should be implemented on a regular basis include not using the speaker phone option in busy public places, watching language and eliminating cursing, and to avoid divulging confidential or personal information. The cashier at the grocery store, the child at the park, and the people on the bus who are nearby will be thankful to not have to be subjected to hearing all of those poor cellphone habits listed above.
Those rules can be implemented for safety, as well. Some practical advice that is also proper etiquette would be to never talk or text while driving and to understand that private information in a text is not necessarily always going to be private, since there are ways for the recipient to forward that information on to others. (For example, screenshots are very common with today’s phone savvy generation).
Whether or not a person knows all the latest emojis and acronyms, the realm of text messaging — or “texting” as it is commonly referred to — comes with its own set of rules and regulations.
Good habits to introduce when texting are keeping messages brief, double checking the message has been selected to the right person before hitting send, and acknowledging that a message was received. Even a simple “Thanks” or “Okay” at the end of a conversation will go a long way for good communication.
Emily Post’s Texting Guidelines make it clear when it states, “Just as you shouldn’t answer your phone during a conversation, you shouldn’t text when you’re engaged with someone else. If you are with someone who won’t stop texting during your conversation, feel free to excuse yourself until they have concluded their messaging.”
Sometimes the worst actions are not the noise of the phone ringing or the sign of disinterest person texting, but the distraction of an illuminated screen in a dark environment. That alone can annoy neighboring people at a movie or concert setting, so it is wise to avoid checking a phone in those typically dark public environments.
Age does not give immunity to certain etiquette rules. No matter the person’s age, it is frowned upon to be on the phone for socializing at school or work.
Emily Post advises, “Don’t text during class or a meeting at your job.”
Both places require people’s full attention, so unless the use of cellphones are being utilized for educational purposes or work-related conversations, it is best to kick the habit of checking social media, texting friends, and taking selfies at school or work.
Newtown schools’ recent electronic device policies in place may sway students to make better decisions.
Last year’s Newtown Middle School student/parent handbook policy stated that students are not allowed to use cellphones in school and should keep them in their lockers during school hours.
In higher levels of education, like Newtown High School, the 2016-2017 Student Handbook details a set list of places where students can use electronic devices (i.e., the cafeteria/cafetorium, hallway, senior courtyard, patio areas, and classrooms at the discretion of the teacher), as well as a list of places where cellphones are prohibited (i.e., office areas like the Career Centers, hallways during class time, and during fire drills). Violate those rules and be penalized with a first offense warning, a second offense confiscation, and a third offense duel confiscation and administrative detention.
With the Board of Education policy subcommittee currently reevaluating cellphone rules for the future, a Newtown students best bet is to ask a teacher or administrator for the classroom or school policy.
Newtown Youth Discuss Cellphone Habits
The C.H. Booth Library’s Young Adult Council, which is a group of conscientious individuals ranging from 11 to 15 years old, discussed the topic of cellphones at a recent meeting and drew some conclusions for their age group.
While not all members of the council owned a cellphone, many in the group have had a handful of years of experience navigating owning a cellphone in today’s world.
This 15-member segment of Newtown’s youth population on average received a phone sometime between the ages of 10 and 12 years old. Most expressed that many of their friends their age have cellphones already, as well.
When asked if there was social pressure to have a cellphone, Young Adult Council member Juliana Miraldi said, “Yes, definitely I think so. When you don’t have one and people around you are always using them so you sort of feel a bit left out.”
Still, many do agree that there are certain rules to cellphone use that ring true for their age group.
They find it disrespectful if someone is on their phone during a conversation, with the exception of using the phone to add to the discussion. Generally, the students recommend leaving a phone face down when people are talking, so as to be less distracted.
An appropriate use of cellphones that Grace Miller voiced was the ability to share the device during an emergency or unexpected event. Since she does not have a cellphone, she appreciated when a friend let her borrow a phone so Grace could call her parents to let them know the fire alarm was pulled at her school causing her bus to run half an hour late. Students that share their phones in these situations are seen as demonstrating good cellphone etiquette.
According to the Young Adult Council, when using cellphones at home, each household tends to have its own rules in place.
Emily Post’s Families and Mobile Manners Survey found that “94 percent of parents believe it’s important to establish rules in the home about proper use of mobile devices.”
A place that many families agree is an off limits zone for cellphone use is at the dinner table. Mealtime is meant for in person interaction and cellphones are not permitted.
Emily Post’s advice column explained, “Even if your phone is in your lap, the people with you all know what you’re doing when you’re eyes are focused on your lap. Just because it’s a quiet activity (unlike a phone call), you’re not fooling anyone. And then everyone’s attention is on the fact that your attention is on your phone, not on them.”
To limit excessive cellphone use at home, some policies in place include setting a specific time, like 8 or 9 pm, when cellphones should be shut off for the night, or to designate a one-hour period when cellphones can be used.
To ensure homework is a priority, some of the Young Adult Council members mentioned that they follow a no-cellphone-till-after-homework-is-finished rule.
Some parents even go a step further and set up restrictive Wi-Fi where data will shut off at a certain time. That way it eliminates the temptation of use and there is a concrete rule in place.
Whether intending to use a cellphone for schoolwork or to communicate with parents or to stay social with friends, having a phone is seen as a helpful feature when following good cellphone etiquette.
Public transportation plays a pivotal role in moving people across the region everyday with 1.2-million trips made daily on transit. Vancity Buzz has compiled a comprehensive list of public transit etiquettes and rules that are widely accepted as courteous and respectful policies, but may not be commonly practiced.
This list is meant to help promote courteous behaviour on public transit as even the simplest of actions can ensure that everyone, including yourself, has a more enjoyable and positive transit experience. Taking transit means sharing a small space so it is important that all riders treat each other with both courtesy and respect.
This covers everything from bus stops to train stations to transit vehicles (buses, SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express).
25 Public Transit Etiquettes You Should Know And Follow
1. Stand on your right, walk on the left. When walking along a station building passageway/hallway or using the escalators and stairs, always stand on your right side. Allow people who are quicker to pass on left, it is no different from the rules of the road.
2. Form an orderly line when boarding a bus, train or ferry. Do not budge or push.
3. Let passengers exit first. Whether it be at a bus stop, train station or ferry terminal, when the doors to a vehicle slide open always let the passengers inside exit first before attempting to board yourself. Stand on either side of the doors to let passengers exit – do not block their way and do not attempt to board the vehicle until everyone that needs to get off has done so.
Be attentive and allow any parents with strollers, disabled (especially those with wheelchairs) or seniors to exit a vehicle first.
4. Do not block the doors. Do not block doors while inside a vehicle: this can create logjams and it disrupts the flow of passengers from entering and particularly exiting. If you are in a crowded train or bus and you happen to be standing at the doorway and people also need to get out, step out of the vehicle to let passengers out and then step back.
5. Stand clear of doorways while inside a transit vehicle so that doors can properly and fully close the first time. Vancouverites also have a bad habit of treating SkyTrain doors like elevator doors: do not hold the doors open, it can cause delays in the automated train system.
6. Pay your fare: do not fare evade. You are stealing from everyone if you do not pay your transit fare and give yourself a free ride. If you are found without a ticket during fare inspection, you could face a fine of $173 and it is something you will have to pay if you want to obtain or renew your driver’s license.
7. Have your fare ready before a bus arrives at the stop: be prepared. If you cannot find it right away, do not hold up the bus by stepping to the side and letting others board first. Taking your time to board the bus and fumbling around for your fare ticket or change while stalling the bus from moving hurts the efficiency of the system and holds up other passengers from reaching their destination in a timely manner.
Time is money, and stalling is inconsiderate for everyone aboard. As well, when you are near your destination, start moving towards the nearest vehicle exit doors to reduce stopping time and to make your exit less difficult (especially inside a crowded bus).
8. One seat per person is common etiquette, especially during peak hours and when the seats inside the vehicle are almost completely occupied.
9. Seats are for your bottoms only: keep your dirty shoes away from the seats – do not rest your feet on a seat.
10. Bathe and clean your clothes regularly. Funky smelling passengers should not be part of the norm of the public transit experience. Wear deodorant but do not douse yourself either as it can get too strong in such small spaces. Your time on transit is also not time for you to catch up on your personal hygiene: please do not floss your teeth and clip your nails on transit.
11. Refrain from having loud conversations; talk softly and quietly. Not just with your friends and fellow passengers, but this also means no loud conversations on your mobile phone. Set your phone onto vibrate if possible. Be considerate of other passengers.
Also keep in mind the language you are using while carrying out conversations – no foul or offensive language. Polite social behaviour is perfectly normal, but please remember that your fellow passengers are not your new best friend.
12. Abstain from bringing anything onboard that occupies a lot of space. Excessive bags that take up multiple seats and/or significant aisle room is highly discouraged as it prevents others from being able to sit or even board a vehicle during busy peak times. Instead, consider other forms of transport to get where you need to go. However, if you have one or two pieces of luggage (especially on the Canada Line), that is perfectly fine.
I have also seen people attempting to bring onboard items as random as patio furniture to large and dangerous propane tanks, even though it should be obvious that public transit is not your vehicle for that. Assistance animals are certainly permitted, and for all other pets (small dogs, cats, rabbits and small fur-bearing or feathered animals) they are also allowed on transit as long as they are in small, hand-held cages.
13. No foods and drinks. Do not eat onboard transit. Be considerate of other passengers: do not bring smelly foods aboard a train as smells intensify in small spaces. There is always the risk of sticky spills, but if you must bring fluids aboard (besides water) please ensure it is inside a resealable lid – do not bring an open container or drink aboard a transit vehicle.
14. Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and away from people whenever possible. The common practice is to sneeze and cough inside your elbow – not into your hand.
15. If you are listening to music from your earphones, turn down your music as it can be audible to other passengers (not to mention that this cannot be good for your ear drums). In addition, music blaring from big speakers and portable devices is obviously not acceptable.
16. Give up your seat to the people who really need it if no other seat is available to them. This means young children, pregnant women, the elderly and the disabled. Be attentive and courteous with those who are in need of a seat.
17. Do not confront and argue with rude people. Make it a positive experience as much as possible. Do not confront individuals (especially for your own safety). Try to remember that when someone else is rude, you probably will not have to see that person again after you get off the train or bus, so there is no point in making things worse with confrontation.
18. Hold on to the handrails when standing inside a transit vehicle, and stand sideways parallel to the vehicle’s motion. This will largely prevent any unbalancing falls, for your own sake and the safety of others around you.
19. Remove your backpack inside a crowded vehicle. Also think about how your belongings may obstruct someone. Do not place bags or packages in the middle of an aisle.
20. Respect your bus driver and other transit staff. In addition, refrain from carrying out long questions or even entire social conversations with a bus driver if it means holding up a bus from moving.
21. Nobody likes to get left behind: move to the rear of the bus or train. We all have places we need to be and want to go in a timely manner. Sometimes, transit vehicles can be packed and this means some passengers will be left to wait for another vehicle to come. However, not everyone has to wait for the second or even third bus or train: you would be surprised how much more space could be made for more passengers if all standees moved all the way to the rear of the bus and train.
22. Do not litter. Whatever you bring onto public transit also leaves with you as you exit. Bring your trash with you and dispose of it properly into a trash can or recycling bin.
23. This one is beyond simple: do not vandalize any transit property. Everything from scratching windows, destroying seats, graffiti, and even peeling off information and directional stickers with your fidgety fingers. Is there really a point to any of this?
24. No smoking on any transit vehicle, train station and bus stop.
25. No soliciting or loitering.
BONUS. Don’t open train doors. Be considerate of other passengers as opening train doors only prolongs train delays. It is also unsafe as the tracks are electrified with 600 volts and trains could begin to move at anytime without notice. Anyone caught opening train doors and walking on the tracks could be fined upwards of $230, in addition to possible criminal charges.
Featured image: NYC My Radio Network
DH Vancouver StaffDaily Hive is the evolution of Vancity Buzz, established in 2008.