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The dos and don’ts of smartphone decorum

Smartphones are everywhere. Virtually every person you meet has one in his or her pocket, purse or hand. But an electronic device should never take priority over your life and the relationships you build with those around you. Follow this simple guide to ensure your behaviour isn’t governed by your phone.

Woman on smartphone running errands

Do use it safely

We live busy lives and sometimes that can make us feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. It seem so easy to text, email or look something up while walking from one place to another. It may be tempting — but you should avoid this habit at all costs. For one, looking down at your phone can turn you into a frustration to those around you. You are likely to walk slower and bump into others. Even worse than simply being an irritant, you can become a danger. With your focus on your phone instead of where you’re going, you could jostle someone who is elderly or unsteady, or even cause a serious accident. Staring at your screen may lead you to walk across a street against the light or not see a vehicle that, for whatever reason, is heading straight for you. Don’t be a danger to yourself or others — when you’re walking, tuck that phone away.

Don’t use it while someone is talking to you

Distraction is never an attractive trait. Just as you wouldn’t want to go on a date with a guy who was continually looking at another girl’s chest, you don’t want to be the person that doesn’t really hear what others are saying. When you’re with someone, don’t let that person feel as though your time together is less important than something that is happening miles away, through your phone. Be respectful of those you are with and enjoy your time with them.

Do explain what you’re doing

If, for some reason, you simply must check something on your phone that cannot wait until later, let those around you know. A simple, “I’m so sorry, but my sister just messaged me about how my sick niece is doing and I need to get back to her” will go a long way. If your friend knows that you just need to deal with one important issue before you can fully commit to your time together, she will wait. If, on the other hand, you keep checking your phone and paying more attention to it than to her, she will quickly wonder why she’s even there, since you don’t seem to notice her. Keep your friends in the loop and they will understand.

Don’t keep it on the table

If you are in a restaurant with friends or family, it’s time to enjoy yourself and soak in the lovely moment. By keeping your phone on the table, you insinuate that whatever is going on outside the restaurant is more important than what’s happening in it. And that leaves your loved ones feeling ignored and undervalued. If you happen to be waiting to hear the results on whether or not you got the fresh kidney you need, by all means, keep your phone in view — otherwise, put it away.

Do offer it when it’s helpful to the situation

There are times when having a smartphone can be of huge help to those around you. If a friend comments that she is about to miss an important deadline if she doesn’t send out an e-mail soon, offer her the option of using your phone to do so. If a stranger is lost and in need of assistance, suggest you bring up a map for them. Smartphones were created for a reason — they’re useful. So, let them be a help, not a hindrance!

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