Do you talk too loudly on your mobile phone? Give more attention to your laptop than the people around you? Overshare on Facebook? Chances are you’re a mobile etiquette offender, according to recent research by Intel.

Almost two out of three respondents (61%) believe there should be a set of behavioural rules governing our use of mobile devices in public – with major no-nos including using someone else’s account to post a joke, oversharing of personal information and tagging unflattering photo of your friends.
However, checking your Facebook status over coffee with friends or colleagues is not likely to raise an eyebrow (only 7% see it as an issue), smuggling your laptop on a weekend break is quite acceptable (only 9% against it) and the use of mobile devices in the bedroom is the norm (only 7% object to it).
The survey polled more than 12 000 people across 16 countries, including South Africa. And the results indicate that smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices are reshaping our behavioural norms, says Ntombezinhle Modiselle, head of marketing at Intel SA.
“People’s tolerance levels are rising and the use of mobile technology is now so pervasive that it has created the need for a new code of conduct,” says Modiselle. “We all see the appeal of being constantly connected to a lively, virtual community, and of always being up-to-date and up-to-speed.”
Interestingly, the survey suggests that our emotional connection to our mobile devices is so strong we might even call it an addiction: more than half of us are willing to sacrifice chocolate or sweets for a week, rather than be without our treasured devices. Mobile technology has become an integral part of our public profile, with our devices often standing as a status symbol (54% of respondents identified with this).
“The research suggests that most of us check our e-mails or post our first tweet before we even set foot out of the door in the mornings,” says Modiselle. “Two-thirds (67%) of respondents check their mobile before going to work in the morning. Almost a quarter (23%) do that before they even get out of bed. It’s the new norm.”
Yet there are limits to our acceptance of mobile device usage, and there remain sacrosanct areas of etiquette which we are reluctant to breach – like the dinner table. Respondents also signalled their concern about use of devices that can create a dangerous situation – 67% cited texting while driving. And talking loudly on your phone is strongly frowned upon: fully one-third (33%) of respondents would see the use of mobile devices banned in public places.
Modiselle says we’re still at an early stage in shaping mobile etiquette: “It is a difficult phenomenon to regulate, as people’s feelings and emotions are involved. Etiquette and social norms are typically built up over many years – across generations.”
Of course, it’s all a matter of perception. While just 11% of respondents said broad society generally has excellent mobile manners, more than half believe their own mobile etiquette is impeccable.
“For us, it’s all about how people interact with mobile devices, and what part these interactions play in their daily lives,” says Modiselle. “Knowing what frustrates people is as important as finding out what excites them– because it leaves such a lasting impression. The Mobile Etiquette survey really shows that mobile devices are here to stay as part of our daily lives. We just need to remember to mind our mobile manners.”