As most American adults have a cellphone by 2015, etiquette is changing about the acceptable occasions to pull out a cellphone. Credit: Simon Doggett via Flickr, used by CC BY 2.0

Most Americans agree there are times they shouldn’t pull out their cellphone — but opinions vary a lot about when it is and isn’t OK.

The Pew Research Center released a report Wednesday on its recent survey of American adults’ cellphone use. Pew found in its report that “constant cell phone use has created new social challenges” as most U.S. adults have a cellphone, and most cell owners have their phones with them at all times.

The report shows that even though cellphones have made it easier for people to stay connected digitally, they have created a strain on our in-person interactions.

In situations where it’s “generally not OK” to use a phone, we mostly agree:

  • Don’t use it in a church (96 percent).
  • Don’t use it in a movie theater, or other places where others are usually quiet (95 percent).
  • Don’t use it during a meeting (94 percent).
  • Don’t use it at a family dinner (88 percent).

In situations where it’s “generally OK” to use a phone, we’re less in agreement:

  • While walking down the street (77  percent agree).
  • On public transportation (75 percent agree).
  • While waiting in line (74 percent agree).

The most contentious situation in Pew’s survey was at a restaurant: 62 percent said “generally not OK.”

The report doesn’t get into specifics about what “using a phone” means for those questions — taking a phone call? Checking Facebook? But it did ask people to say the specific tasks for which they used a phone at their last social gathering:

89 perecent of cell owners used their phones during their most recent social activity with others

The report also covers the social reasons why people use cellphones within a group — to take a photo, to look up where they’re going or how to get there, or to be anti-social and avoid interacting with people near them.

Visit Pew’s website for the synopsis and full report.


Pattie Reaves

I'm a new mom and renegade fitness blogger at After the Couch. I live in Brewer with my husband, Tony, our daughter Felicity, and our two pugs, Georgia...