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Brief Published: 28 Aug 2015

Mobile Manners

US adults think it's bad manners to use phones in company

Most US adults think it's distracting and rude to use mobile phones in social situations, but struggle to resist the temptation themselves, according to an August 2015 report from the Pew Research Center.

The study explores views on mobile phone etiquette, including when and where it's considered appropriate to use a phone in public places or social gatherings. Highlights include:

  • We're All Guilty: Over 80% of US adults who have mobile phones say that phones harm the conversation when people use them in social settings. Only around 30% believe that using mobile phones in these situations adds to the conversation or atmosphere. Despite these views, close to 90% of all phone owners consulted their phone at a recent gathering.
  • Group Contribution: US adults mainly use their phones in social settings to connect with and benefit the group. The majority (78%) post pictures or videos of the gathering and look up information relevant to the conversation. Some 30% use their phones because they have lost interest in the discussion, are avoiding talking or want to communicate with someone unknown to the group.
  • Age-Appropriate: Opinions on using mobile phones around others differ according to age – younger people are more tolerant. Of those aged 18 to 29, 98% had consulted their phone during a recent social event, compared with 69% of those aged 65 and above.

For more on how digital habits impact on social aspects of consumers' lives, see Battling Busyness.