How to Use Your Phone in Public

Some ways we can start to achieve the goals of mobile device eti­quette:

• Vol­ume:
When pri­vate­ly using any device in a pub­lic place, the default set­ting on said device should always be mute (unless you’re using good head­phones). Not just phones. Know where the mute but­ton is on every device and use it.

• Bright­ness:
If using a device in a dark room, sit at the back and/or adjust the bright­ness of the screen so that it is not vis­i­ble (and thus dis­tract­ing) to those sit­ting behind you. If you can’t avoid being dis­tract­ing, think about not using your device at all, or leav­ing the room to use it.

• Posi­tion:
Posi­tion your device screen to min­i­mize oth­er people’s sight of it. Not only can your screen activ­i­ty engage oth­er people’s atten­tion and dis­tract them against their will from the action in the room (pas­sive device pol­lu­tion), it can also trig­ger in them an irre­sistible urge to check things on their own devices — inat­ten­tion is catch­ing, even if unwant­ed.

• Engage­ment, aka if you’re in the room, be in the room:
Do not vis­i­bly react to the con­tent of your device when your atten­tion is sup­posed to be in the room. Do not spend all your time at a meet­ing look­ing down at your device. Do not aban­don a speak­er to an audi­ence of down-turned heads typ­ing and chuck­ling about things that clear­ly have noth­ing to do with what is being said in the room.

• Restrict your pub­lic device inter­ac­tion to the things you actu­al­ly need to do:
It is almost a mod­ern-day reflex to reach for a mobile device at every oppor­tu­ni­ty. If you pull out your device to take a pho­to­graph or check a map, you don’t auto­mat­i­cal­ly have to also check your bank bal­ance and your LinkedIn mes­sages and the weath­er. It’s okay (indeed desir­able) to do what you orig­i­nal­ly want­ed to do, then put your device away and return your full atten­tion to the room.

• Resist reach­ing for the device, where appro­pri­ate:
While the reflex to check our devices can be ever present, it’s not always appro­pri­ate to do so. If a) you know there’s no par­tic­u­lar need to check your device right now, and b) you know it will neg­a­tive­ly impact your own or some­one else’s expe­ri­ence, then think twice.

 as it appeared  in the Huff­in­g­ton Post.



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