Mind Your Mobile Manners This Holiday

By Jessica Binns, Contributing Editor — December 17, 2012

This holiday season, be sure to mind your mobile manners.

Intel surveyed technology users around the world to glean insights into the state of mobile etiquette and people's top pet peeves around mobile misuse.

What's clear, according to the survey results, is an overwhelming dissatisfaction with current mobile etiquette (or the lack thereof). In the U.S., 92% of respondents say they would like other people to improve their mobile behavior. Ironically, if nearly 100% of mobile users are annoyed, isn't it possible they are also the annoyers at some point?

Distracted driving topped the list of pet peeves. More than 75% of Americans hate to see others texting or talking while behind the wheel. So when you're going over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house this December, as 84.4 million Americans are expected to do, unplug during the journey — your fellow drivers will thank you and you'll get there safely.

Speaking of travel, train riders should be extra careful with their mobile etiquette, especially those in designated "quiet cars" on Amtrak. "Be aware that your voice will distract a peaceful carriage of newspaper-reading commuters," according to Debrett's, the self-described modern authority on etiquette. What's more, even non-voice mobile activities can annoy your fellow quiet-car passengers, as one New York Times reporter discovered while typing on his laptop. Keep the peace this holiday and be sensitive to the needs of others around you.

Rounding out the leading annoyances on Intel's survey are speaking loudly in public places and having your ringtone volume up too high. According to DeBrett's, "If it blares out and heads turn, it's too loud." Particularly kitschy ringtones likely will rub others the wrong way, so the song that you find so amusing as your notifier might raise the blood pressure of the people around you.

"Don't carry on mobile phone calls while transacting other business — in banks, shops, on buses and so on. It is insulting not to give people who are serving you your full attention," says Debrett's. This might be the most difficult rule to follow, as busy multitasking professionals dash out to do holiday shopping on their lunch breaks and feel compelled to stay connected to the workplace via smartphone.

Another no-no: sending texts while engaged in a face-to-face conversation. It's especially tempting to violate this rule during the crazy-busy holidays, given the spike in SMS messages bearing season's greetings, but there may be a way to keep your texting under control.

Google Play lists several apps that will auto-respond to incoming texts with a pre-set message of your choice, so you don't have to manually respond to every "Merry Christmas" or "Happy New Year!" SMS. iPhone apps such as AutoResponder address this issue, too.

Put your mobile devices aside and leave the enterprise behind if only for a day. It will do you good to focus on the here and now. "Don't put your phone on the dining table, or glance at it longingly mid-conversation," warns Debrett's. Instead, glance longingly at the spread of carved turkey, ice-cold eggnog and spicy gingerbread cookies on your holiday table and engage with those around you.

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