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Impoolite? The Etiquette Of Using Your Phone On The Loo

It seems everyone's got an opinion on it and most of us do it -- but should we?

Using a mobile phone while on the loo has become so common there's even a word for it in the Urban Dictionary.

The term 'toilet texting' refers to sending messages or watching videos while on the throne.

Australians are big users of the web, spending on average nearly seven hours each day on tablets, phones and computers -- although the data is yet to be collected regarding how much of that time is on the dunny.

"When you start or continue to text somebody while on the toilet. You usually end up staying in the bathroom for way too long," the Urban Dictionary definition reads.

Phone, Toilet
Most of us are 'toilet-texters'. Photo: Getty Images.

While a significant proportion of people part-take in a little toilet-texting, it's polarising due to the social and health implications of mixing communication with excretion.

Etiquette Expert Says 'No' Toilet Texting

Director of The Australian School of Etiquette Zarife Hardy told 10 daily it's both "rude and unhygienic" to take selfies in a bathroom and text/make phone calls while on the loo.

"If you are going to text then put the phone on silent and put it away in your bag before exiting the cubicle," Hardy said.

"To avoid any rude comments it is best to not take it in with you, avoid the temptation. Do not talk on your phone in a public toilet"

It is never okay to take selfies in the toilet or bathroom. No matter how great the lighting is or angle of the shot. Do not take selfies in that room.

It's also pretty common for people to spend additional time on the loo because they are texting or scrolling -- so toilet texting is deemed inconsiderate as it holds others up who need to wee.

Phone, Toilet
It's incredibly rude to answer a call while on the loo. Photo: Getty Images.

"...time goes by very quickly when using the phone," Hardy said.

"When using the toilet it should be an efficient process, in and out as quick as possible."

Most toilet texters aren't actually texting at all. Communications Adviser Anna Cairo told 10 daily most people are likely to scroll while on the loo and text at the table or while eating.

"I think because of the world we live in, we are so connected, we don't want to part with our phones," Cairo told 10 daily.

Toilet Texting Is Incredibly Unhygienic

Of course, there's also the hygiene issue with toilet phone use. For the last decade, studies have proven the transfer of toilet germs to your device could hold serious health risks.

Human hands handle bacteria every day and using a mobile phone on the toilet can increase this level according to the Food Safety Information Council.

The council advises we don't text and toilet.

"We have done observational studies in a public toilet in a shopping mall and found 29 percent of men and seven percent of women didn’t wash their hands at all after going to the toilet," Food Safety Information Council spokesperson Lydia Buchtmann told 10 daily.

A connected world means we don't want to be without our phones. Photo: Getty Images.

From a hygiene perspective, the rule is pretty simple.

"... always wash your hands with soap and running water and dry thoroughly after going to the toilet or changing nappies, before eating or preparing food and after handling raw meat or poultry," Buchtmann said.

Being 'Time Poor' Is No Excuse

The rise of the toilet texter and the advice against the practice begs the question -- why do it in the first place?

"I personally think it’s pretty disgusting ... so I don’t know what that says about us," Cairo said.

A possible defence for people who answer emails or write texts while on the loo is being 'busy'. But Hardy and Cairo concur that 'time-poorness' is not an excuse for a "disgusting" and "rude" habit. 

Even parents who might be escaping for a moment of online-peace don't have an excuse.

Being 'time-poor' is no excuse for using your toilet and texting. Photo: Getty Images.

"... even if you want that moment of peace from children you are still role modelling behaviour to them. Let’s not encourage them to wipe and swipe," Hardy said.

Have Some Self-Control And Separate Toilet And Texting

The urge to toilet text comes from a growing culture of 'fear of missing out', according to Cairo.

"I think it is quite strong and part of the reason why people literally panic if they don’t have their phone," Cairo said.

To ensure health and happiness, developing personal boundaries are essential when using technology. Cairo urged people to resist the temptation and leave the mobile out of the bathroom.

 "At the end of the day it is not the technology that is the issue, it is how we use it and it always comes down to a personal choice."

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au