Last updated: July 16. 2014 9:31AM - 168 Views
By Devon Hailey Contributing columnist



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It’s not just working professionals and people on the go who use their mobile devices to stay connected, everyone from children to retirees are using smartphones and tablets to simplify and enhance their lives.


A Pew Research survey found that 67 percent of cellphone owners find themselves checking their phones for messages, alerts or calls – even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating. That means a lot of people are checking devices at any given time or place, and since July is National Cellphone Courtesy Month it is the perfect time to talk about the expectations and practices of wireless device users of all ages.


According to a recent U.S. Cellular survey, 37 percent of users say others get upset with them for phone use, while 63 percent say they get upset at others for phone use.


As may be expected, smartphone owners who are over the age of 54 have stronger etiquette beliefs than younger users. Among adults 55-64, 82 percent think it is rude to check your phone while talking with someone else, and 80 percent think it is rude to check while dining. Comparatively, 63 percent of users 18-34 think it is rude to be on your phone while talking to someone else, while 57 percent think it is rude to check while dining.


In addition to smartphone use preferences differing depending on age, men and women also have different ideas about how to use wireless technology. Women are more likely to prefer texting over men. They are also more likely to have checked or used their phone to avoid conversations.


Of those surveyed, 63 percent of people believe that no one gets upset at them for their phone use. This is the same proportion that sometimes gets upset with others for using their phone or tablet.


With users ranging in age from young students to senior citizens, it’s important for all generations to be considerate about when and how we use our wireless devices. By following a few simple guidelines, we can all stay connected and be courteous of those around us at the same time.


Smartphones and tablets, like the iPhone 5s, allow users to multitask and stay connected, and U.S. Cellular is sharing these tips for improving courtesy by busy cellphone users:


• Set the ground rules. If you have plans to meet a relative for dinner or spend happy hour with a group of friends, discuss expectations for phone use. By determining technology use before the gathering, everyone is able to enjoy the occasion.


• Seek to understand. Focus on similarities instead of differences and set a goal to understand those around you. By understanding other’s wireless device use, you’ll be more courteous of their expectations.


• Don’t be a buzz kill. Putting a phone on vibrate during a meeting or event can be a good ideas, as vibration mode is meant to alert only you. However, it can distract others if the phone is placed on a table in a meeting or dinner. Put the phone in a pocket, where it can alert you to a call but isn’t disturbing others. If you forget to turn off the ringer and get an unexpected call, phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 stop ringing by simply flipping over the device.


• Avoid being blinded by the light. Adjust screen brightness prior to entering a dimly lit space, such as a restaurant, recital or school play. This allows you to use the device to take photos or use social media without disturbing those around you.


With the 4GLTE network, with speeds of up to 10 times faster than 3G, our smartphones and tablets are able to work faster and harder than ever before. Whether you’re 15, 45 or 95, wireless devices can simplify and enhance your life and provide preferences about when and how to communicate. We should also learn from each other and be courteous about what is best for those we value most.


¹ Between Nov. 15 and Dec. 2, 2013, 500 nationally representative online interviews were conducted among smartphone users in partnership with Maritz Research.


(Editor’s note: Devon Hailey is store manager for U.S. Cellular in Clinton.)

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