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Cell Phone Etiquette

Be aware of when using your phone is inappropriate.
Be aware of when using your phone is inappropriate.

Cell phones are such a common part of everyday life that most of us probably only notice when they’re absent. We feel “naked” when we’ve left them at home. We stare at our friend’s uncle who still doesn’t have one like he’s from another planet as we exclaim, “I couldn’t live without mine!”

But just because cell phones allow us to stay connected to nearly everyone at any time doesn’t mean we should without consideration to others. July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, a fitting time to be reminded of cell phone etiquette—how to be courteous to others and ourselves in a world connected by 4G technology.

Cell Phone Courtesy with Others

You’ve probably been privy to a public cell phone conversation that you wished you hadn’t. Maybe you were forced to eavesdrop on a lovers’ quarrel. Maybe you had the plot of the movie you were going to see over the weekend spoiled unexpectedly. Maybe you had to bear a full minute of someone’s graphic details of a recent sinus infection before the elevator reached your floor. Situations like these make us wish that everyone knew the “rules” of cell phone etiquette, things like:

  1. As much as possible, allow (at least) ten feet of space between you (cell phone user) and your audience-by-circumstance.
  2. Lower the volume of your voice when using a cell phone in public.
  3. Carefully select the topic, language and tone of conversation while you are in public. Avoid discussing personal issues or using profane or graphic language in the presence of others.
  4. Prioritize face-to-face conversations. That means avoiding talking, texting or mobile surfing while you are with others in person—and that includes clerks and customer service representatives.
  5. Silence your cell phones when in places where sound notifications may be distracting to (or detracting from the experience of) others, like theaters, restaurants, yoga studios, museums, etc.
  6. Prioritize roadway safety over all cellular communications. No texting, Facebook updating, tweeting or talking while you are driving. (Even hands-free cell phone use can impair driving ability.)

Of course there are no courtesy police to enforce the “rules” of cell phone etiquette (except for #6 in some states). But you don’t have to wait until someone shows you consideration before you extend the favor. Cell phone courtesy is one of the best opportunities to “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Cell Phone Courtesy with Ourselves

Cell phone courtesy isn’t just for the benefit of others. There are also steps you can take to show yourself some consideration:

Disconnect

Keeping up with everything that’s going on with our families and friends and industries and current events can leave you feeling tired and scattered. And in many cases, it actually compromises the quality of the very relationships you are trying to maintain, including the connection you have with your own body. Disconnecting completely—turning off (not just silencing) your cell phone—allows you the uninterrupted quiet you need to meditate and to get quality restorative sleep.

Research is showing that the radiation emitted by cell phones actually keeps people from falling into deep restorative sleep (Stage IV) and/or shortening the time they may spend in Stage IV sleep. Without this quality sleep, the body cannot restore or repair itself, and that can leave us feeling tired, mentally foggy and emotionally drained. Physical signs will begin to show—on your face, you’re likely to notice the appearance of dark circles, under eye bags and more fine lines and wrinkles.

Disinfect

Your cell phone may actually be one of the germiest surfaces around. On average, there are around 25,017 bacteria per square inch on your phone. (Phones with buttons may harbor more than smooth touch screens.) In fact, your dog’s bowl may have fewer bacteria living on it than your phone. Some of these bacteria may cause acne breakouts, and built up oil, makeup and dirt can clog pores. Wiping down your phone with a disinfecting wipe at least once a week can remove a lot of the gunk that can create skin issues.

You deserve the courtesy of a cell phone-free zone, too. If you don’t know how to run your busy life without your phone, think about making your car your one place of peace. You can commit to distraction-free driving and give yourself quality time with your favorite tunes.

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