How To Mind Your Mobile Manners

July is phone etiquette month, so we have a few tips to help you avoid a phone faux pas

What you need to know
  • It's estimated there are more mobile phones than people in Australia
  • Almost half of us spend four or more hours a day on our phones
  • Eight percent of people have admitted to dropping their phone in the toilet

More than a quarter of Australians can't put down their phone, and most of us have also witnessed poor mobile etiquette at some point.

So because most of us can't live without our phones and July is International Phone Courtesy Month, we have a few tips to help you avoid embarrassing moments on your mobile.

Basic phone Etiquette

Keep your ringtone on silent as much as possible. Unless you are in your own home or need to keep it on for work reasons, switch to vibrate or silent. If you MUST have the ring tone on, keep the volume low.

Speak softly. Most people tend to speak louder on their phones, but nobody wants to be yelled at and if you're in public, we can assure you that the people around you don't find your conversation as interesting as you do.

Keep  phone noises to a minimum. If your phone has 'keyboard clicks' enabled, turn it off so others don't have to hear every stroke of that funny meme you are sending.

Image: Getty
When you should never use your phone

It is never acceptable to use your phone in the bathroom. There is nothing worse than hearing a toilet flush in the background of a call or worse - dropping your phone in the loo. Not to mention how incredibly gross it is. Several studies have shown there are more germs on your mobile phone than a toilet seat and most mobiles contain traces of faecal matter, so why add to the 'ewww' factor.

During most types of one-on-one interaction, using your phone is not appropriate and sneaky texting under the table isn't a stealth as you think it is.

If you're somewhere like a hospital, doctor's office, church or library, keep your phone off. It's common courtesy and respectful to those around you.

Image: Getty

Never use your phone while driving. Not only is it illegal, it's dangerous and can end up costing you a large fine or your life. There is nothing that can't wait for you to pull over and take the call.

Movies, music and Theatres

This one is a no brainer:  keep your phone on silent and don't be tempted to get it out to check your social media. That phone glow may as well be a light house in a darkened theatre and other paying guests don't need to be blinded because you want to live tweet through the latest Marvel movie.

Most theatres won't allow you to take photos. Respect the actors and avoid that embarrassing tap on the shoulder from an usher by keeping your phone switched off.

Image: Getty

Most of us like to take a quick snap of our favourite band at concerts, but there is nothing worse than somebody who spends the entire show with their phone in the air, recording every moment of the night.

Before you decide to hit record, think about what you are actually going to do with that blurry footage with terrible sound quality. Chances are, you have paid an extraordinary amount to see your favourite act live, so keep the snaps to a minimum and live in the moment.

Image: Getty

If it's a formal dinner, celebration or an upscale restaurant, keep your phone on silent and off the table. The same goes for business dinners and dates.

If you need to use the phone, excuse yourself and head outside. If you're expecting an important call,  give the others you are dining with a heads up that your meal may be interrupted.

If you're casually dining with friends or grabbing a quick bite, short glances at your phone are okay. Just don't spend the entire meal gabbing away or taking Instagram pics of your meal from 50 different angles.

Image: Getty

Put your phone away when ordering coffee, no barista wants someone to bark their coffee order at them in between a phone call.

We all know the golden rule of not messing with people who prepare your food, so keep it polite and end your call before you approach that cash register. Simple.

On public transport

Keep your calls short when in a confined space with strangers. Avoid personal conversations and be cautious of swearing.

Some services have 'quiet carriages' designed assist those who want a peaceful commute, so make sure you move to another carriage if you want to use your phone while in one of these.

Image: Getty

When listening to music, remember that not everyone will  appreciate your love for '90s hip hop, so always wear headphones and keep volume to a minimum.

If you are watching a video, make sure it's not inappropriate and again, keep the volume down.


Is your name Kylie Jenner? If not, then the question is whether or not you really need to take that selfie. It's pretty understandable that most people won't find you fascinating enough to see 15 selfies of you at lunch, even if you are a Kardashian.

Countless selfies are only acceptable while on solo holidays or if you earn a living taking selfies, in which case go for it but there are still things to consider.

There is nothing wrong with sneaking in a quick selfie but make sure you aren't standing in the middle of a walkway or being inappropriate. Be respectful of memorial sites and take into consideration others around you.

When posting selfies on social media make sure you check the background for anything suss, unless you want it to go viral for the wrong reasons.

"@_Shelbizzle" went viral for all the wrong reasons but in true internet fashion, she is now 'instafamous' for her messy bedroom selfies.
Returning calls and messages

According to the queen of etiquette Emily Post, all calls and messages should be returned within 24 hours of receiving them.

If you're the type of person that looks at messages and then forgets to reply, simply don't look at your phone so much. If you're too busy to respond in the moment, then you are too busy to have your phone in your hand.

If you work irregular hours or have other reasons you don't want to take calls, use the do not disturb feature. Most smartphones will allow you to select a few contacts that will always get through and it will save you from an early morning wake up call from telemarketers or endless social media notifications.

It can also be awkward for the caller if you answer and are clearly not impressed with being woken up from your nap or trying to have a well deserved Sunday sleep in.

Image: Getty

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