When it comes to our devices and etiquette, and deciding what is appropriate for social situations, we all seem to have a view. Are we practising what we preach, or at least what we think?
Waiting in line at the supermarket, standing at the bus stop, travelling on a train, it is certainly the norm to see people with a device in hand, scrolling their social networking feeds, answering emails or watching a downloaded TV series. We are probably fairly resigned to the fact that this is the norm and will continue to be. Some people lament the lack of communication and eye contact taking place between strangers. Others believe they may in fact be connecting even more with people via these ‘hyper connected’ social networks.
Whatever you believe, the fact remains that these gadgets have well and truly become an extension of our being. It seems however, there should still be some lines drawn when it comes to devices and social etiquette. There remains situations where we need to put the devices away. Those times where we want our kids to know the value of face to face interactions, of real life connections and of taking the time to live in the moment, be aware of our surroundings and learn to let go a little.
When we are at the dinner table, at a social function with friends or family, walking down the street, playing with our kids. These are some of the times I think we need to keep sacred.
A recent survey by the Pew Research Centre in America found that phone use in social situations is seen to have a negative effect on the experience for both those using the device as well as those in their company. Nothing ground breaking there, but I guess the most telling statistic is that whilst most people recognised the negative impact of using a device at social gatherings, still 89% of people admitted to doing it. I imagine there are a lot of these same people rousing on their kids for being stuck on their phones all day.
It seems the majority of people are ok with trains, in queues or waiting for public transport, but we become rather more discerning when it comes to restaurants, family gatherings, meetings, at the theatre or at church. I would say that is pretty similar to how I view it too.
I admit for me however, it doesn’t always look how I want it to look. I don’t always espouse the behaviours I want to see in my kids. But being conscious of it certainly goes a long way to being more aware and stopping myself when I see myself slipping in to bad habits.
I think having a few simple rules for ourselves really helps too. We have a definite no devices at the dinner table rule. We also provide lots of opportunity to do things as a family, to get outside and play, where devices are not needed. Building on that culture of balanced play is a really important way of developing good device etiquette.
How about you? Could you look at making some changes to the way you use your phone or device? Does it upset you seeing others use their devices in social situations? What are your limits?