November 25, 2020

Modern day manners: mobile etiquette

When my sister says, “Say, ‘Hi,’ to Siri,” my 16-month-old niece walks across the room, grabs my sister’s iPhone and sits down. She knows what button to push to make Siri talk (although Siri never understands my niece’s baby talk).

Technology is being integrated into our lives from a very young age, but technology etiquette isn’t necessarily being considered.

An Intel State of Mobile Etiquette survey from 2011 found that half of children between 8-12 years old have two or more mobile devices. While I don’t think it’s necessary for someone age 8-12 to have a cell phone, I also think this is a missed learning opportunity. I worry that parents are not teaching their children proper etiquette when it comes to technology. As an aunt, I think about this often.

We are role models for the children in the world today. If we don’t use the manners we learned as children, I think the world would become a very rude place. I’m no exception.

Until about three months ago, I had a semi-fancy, Internet-capable phone. I checked my email and Facebook constantly. If I was waiting in line for coffee or walking to class, my cell phone was in hand. My semi-fancy phone’s touch screen broke and, being the poor college student that I am, I couldn’t afford to fix it. I went back to my old, non-Internet accessible phone in November.

Just as in “Flowers for Algernon,” in which the main character’s intelligence was temporarily increased, having a fancy phone meant my technology usage was temporarily increased. I had only had an Internet-capable phone for a year before losing it. When I first got the phone, I didn’t think I would use the Internet as much as I did. Going from a phone with Internet to a phone without it was difficult at first, but I adjusted.

I’ll admit when I had an Internet-accessible phone, my phone manners weren’t the best. The Intel survey also found that 75 percent of U.S. adults believe “mobile manners” have become worse (compared to Intel’s 2009 survey).

As a journalist, I understand the importance of technology and social media. As a human, I enjoy technology and social media. However, as a journalist and human, I also appreciate good manners.
I attended a lecture at a journalism conference recently. At the beginning of her talk, the speaker, an employee of WCCO-TV in Minnesota, encouraged everyone to tweet about her talk. She said she knows the audience can multi-task and use their smart phones while also absorbing the information she has to share. After hearing that, my first thought was, “Playing on your phone while someone is giving a speech? That’s rude.”

As technology continues to advance, we should keep in mind what manners we already know. I learned to pay attention when someone is speaking in kindergarten. That concept shouldn’t change because I have a smartphone in my hand.

Smartphones can be an extremely useful tool, but can also be overused. Next time you get your phone out, take a second to examine your surroundings and determine if this is the best time.

ILLUSTRATION BY VICTORIA COURTNEY

Megan Favignano is a sophomore journalism major and copy editor for The Journal.

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