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Be Courteous With Cell Phones This Month

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Have you ever been around someone obnoxiously talking on their cell phone – loudly, inappropriately and at the worst possible time?! I’m sure most of us who witnessed the cell phone revolution, have noticed some bad manners from our fellow users. This is why Jacqueline Whitmore, etiquette expert extraordinaire, author and speaker, founded July as National Cell Phone Courtesy Month.

Started in 2002, the designation came with the intent to encourage the increasingly unmindful corps of cell phone users to be more respectful of their surroundings by using some simple cell phone etiquette principles, according to www.etiquetteexpert.com.

That’s not to say cell phones are all bad; on the contrary, many would argue cell phones to be one of the greatest modern day inventions. However, with any new technology, it needs to be adapted so humans are able to use them in a respectful manner. Once the cell phone became “smart,” they have become more of a distraction than anything.

Perhaps one of the greatest distractions while driving is the cell phone. Use while driving has been a huge issue, with distracted driving causing many of roadway accidents. In 2013 alone, it accounted 3,154 vehicle accident deaths, with drivers under the age of 20 having the highest proportion of distracted drivers – a group we as parents need to target if we have any hope of these numbers falling.

Whitmore offers these simple steps to help in offending others:

Be all there. When you’re in a meeting, performance, courtroom or other busy area, let calls go to voicemail to avoid a disruption. In some instances, turning your phone off may be the best solution. 


Keep it private. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid discussing private or confidential information in public. You never know who may be in hearing range.


Keep your cool. Don’t display anger during a public call. Conversations that are likely to be emotional should be held where they will not embarrass or intrude on others.


Learn to vibe. Use your wireless phone’s silent or vibration settings in public places such as business meetings, religious services, schools, restaurants, theaters or sporting events so that you do not disrupt your surroundings.


Avoid “cell yell.” Remember to use your regular conversational tone when speaking on your wireless phone. People tend to speak more loudly than normal and often don’t recognize how distracting they can be to others. 


Follow the rules. Some places, such as hospitals or airplanes, restrict or prohibit the use of mobile phones, so adhere to posted signs and instructions. Some jurisdictions may also restrict mobile phone use in public places. 


Excuse yourself. If you are expecting a call that can’t be postponed, alert your companions ahead of time and excuse yourself when the call comes in; the people you are with should take precedence over calls you want to make or receive.


Send a message. Use Text Messaging to send and receive messages without saying a single word.


Watch and listen discreetly. New multimedia applications such as streaming video and music are great ways to stay informed and access the latest entertainment. However, adjust the volume based on your surroundings in much the same way that you would adjust your ringer volume. Earphones are a great way to avoid distracting others in public areas.


Alert silently. When using your phone’s walkie-talkie feature, send the person you’re trying to reach a Call Alert before starting to speak. If you’re around other people, turn off your phone’s external speaker and use the vibration setting to minimize any disturbance and to respect your contact’s privacy.


Be a good Samaritan. Use your cell phone to help others. According to CTIA, The Wireless Association, more than 224,000 calls a day are made to 911 and other emergency numbers by mobile phone users who report crimes and potentially life-threatening emergencies.


Focus on driving. Practice wireless responsibility while driving. Don’t make or answer calls while in heavy traffic or in hazardous driving conditions. Place calls when your vehicle is not moving, and use a hands-free device to help focus attention on safety. Always make safety your most important call.


Spread the word. Discuss cell phone manners with friends and family members. Tell them that you are practicing new wireless phone etiquette rules and offer to share them (www.sprint.com/etiquette).

In a modern world where it seems inevitable that the cell phone revolution is here to stay, hopefully these tips can help us all get along better and be less distracted by this technology when we are behind the wheel.