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Cell Phone Etiquette: When Is It Okay To Use Your Phone?

What Are The Rules For Cell Phone Etiquette?

Picture this, a bride texting on her way down the aisle! Crazy right? Unthinkable? Apparently not because it did happen (you can see the photo on the Your Teen facebook page).  We seem to have become inseparable from our cell phones. Whether we are texting, checking facebook , responding to  email or even playing a game, it seems to be getting more and more difficult to detach ourselves from our cellular devices.

What are your thoughts about cell phone etiquette or is there such thing? How about when you’re in the middle of a conversation with a friend? On a date or attending a family event or meal? What are your expectations and experiences?  What about when attending a religious service or a lecture/workshop? When does it become not ok to check your phone? What would you describe as bad phone manners?


I have a tough time too. It’s not infrequent that I almost bump into someone (or something) as I walk down a corridor checking my email and not looking up. But I’m alone….not ignoring someone else.

There are things that are just rude. I don’t want you reading a magazine while I’m having a conversation with you. And I also don’t want you checking your cell phone. I want your full attention!

It’s ok with me to be texting during a religious service, lecture, or large banquet… It’s no worse than dozing or daydreaming which we all might do. If the whole group is watching a movie or t.v. and at the same time reading e-mails, that’s also fine. But when you are involved in a small group or one on one situation  where there is personal interaction (especially a job interview!!!!!!) give the other people the courtesy of your attention.


Yes, there is cell phone etiquette. But the hard thing about it is that it is different for every situation and every person.  With someone who uses their phone for business and/or other important things I think that they have a better excuse to be on their phone often. Otherwise it depends on the situation, the people you are with, who they are to you and how long you have known them and whether it is considered distracting or disrespectful to be on your phone.

For example: if I am out to dinner with my best friend, it would be acceptable to be on my phone because she is probably on hers and she probably has an interest in whoever I am talking to also. But in the same situation with my boyfriend, it would depend where we were and what we were doing.  If we were out somewhere nice, then I would not be on my phone.  But if we were at a fast food place, sure.

Now, if you are out at a professional dinner meeting or interview, YOU SHOULD NEVER BE ON YOUR PHONE.

So like I said, cell phone and texting etiquette depends on a lot of factors.


I think the time to use your phone depends on the place you’re in and the people you’re with. If you’re sitting around at home or just watching TV with your family, then I think it’s fine to use your phone. If you are with your family or friends but not doing anything important, then you can use your phone.

However, if you’re having dinner or watching a movie, just set your phone down for a while. If you’re at dinner, then eat and talk with the people around you. If you’re watching a movie, watch the movie. I think we are becoming more and more interested in our cell phones because our cell phones keep becoming more and more advanced. I think sometimes we need to take a step back from all the amazing technology we have today and pay more attention to the things that can’t answer our every question by the touch of a button.


What amazes me is not only how much we use our phones in inappropriate situations, but also how much cell phones have become integrated into society. When people go out to fancy dinners, they immediately take their phones out and place them on the table next to their plates. How did that ever become polite? And advertisements in every way shape or form always have a “just text 6073 for a free credit report” or something like that. Even on highway billboards, which I find ironic seeing as we’re not supposed to text and drive.

With society being so two-sided on the matter, it’s up to each individual to decide what’s appropriate or not. The problem is, everyone thinks something different about texting etiquette. I’ve gotten offended quite often by how people act around me with their phones.

I think it’s only appropriate to text when your attention isn’t required, or when it won’t interrupt another’s. When I’m with someone, I don’t like it when they text in the middle of our conversation. That annoys me. Just be aware of how others feel. And be careful of how much time you spend distracted by your phone on your own, it can eat away your day.

Mindy Gallagher

Mindy Gallagher is the Social Media Manager for Your Teen Magazine. She is the assistant coach for the girls’ lacrosse team for Solon High School in Ohio.

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