Age, venue determine tolerance of cellphone use
New findings about behavior involving mobile devices confirm what frustrated parents, supervisors and teachers already believed: many Americans say that using a cellphone -- or even its presence -- during a meal, a meeting or in the classroom is not appropriate.
Yet those beliefs can vary dramatically by age or by the type of technology that respondents use, according to a national survey conducted by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future in collaboration with market research and strategy firm Bovitz Inc.
For example, the survey reports that the mere presence of a mobile device on the table during a meal was judged inappropriate by 62 percent of total respondents. Even worse are texting during a meal (judged inappropriate by 76 percent of respondents), emailing (79 percent) and browsing the Web (80 percent).
The ultimate no-no for meal-time cellphone etiquette? Talking on a mobile device during a meal, which is considered inappropriate by 84 percent of total respondents.
"We're finding a whole new social etiquette developing about the appropriateness of mobile devices," says Jeffrey I. Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
"Fifty years ago, no parent would tolerate a child answering the phone five times during a meal," Cole says. "Now parents face an updated version of that problem when confronting their children about the endless stream of texts they want to answer while the family is together for dinner. And parents use mobile devices, too; it's their struggle as well.
"Now at least we have evidence that a large percentage of Americans believes some behavior involving the mobile devices in our lives is not appropriate," Cole says. "Whether we do anything about it is a separate issue."