Public Tech Etiquette Almost Non-Existent

Mar 2, 2011

CIO Update Staff

Most adults in the U.S. say that they have seen people misuse mobile technology and most adults say mobile manners are worse now than in 2009. Because of the growing number of mobile devices the need for increased awareness of "mobile etiquette" is growing as is the impact of mobile technology on societal norms.

Texting while driving, sending emails while walking, and using mobile devices on your honeymoon ... these are among the top pet peeves cited by U.S. adults in the recent Mobile Etiquette survey conducted by Ipsos and sponsored by Intel to uncover the current state of mobile etiquette.

As the number of mobile devices continues to grow, awareness of how people use these gadgets around others is on the rise. A 2011 report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project states that 85 percent of U.S. adults own a cell phone, 52 percent own a laptop computer, four percent own a tablet, and only nine percent do not own any of these items.

As the innovator behind the processors, or "brains," and complementary technologies that power many of today's mobile devices, Intel tapped its team of social scientists, anthropologists, psychologists and industrial designers to provide a glimpse into how people use, will use or would like to use technology, including mobile devices, well into the future, across different cultures.

"At Intel, we try to start with people first - we ask questions about who they are and what they care about, we also ask questions about technology: What do you love about it, how does it frustrate you, what do you hate about it, what can't you live without?, said Genevieve Bell, Intel fellow and head of interaction and experience research at Intel Labs in a statement.

"We use this research and our understandings about what people care about to help make technology even better; to drive innovation and revolution in technology development. It is important to remember that most digital technology is still quite new to consumers."

"For instance," Bell continued, "the mobile technology is still relatively novel. After all, it was just eight years ago that Intel integrated Wi-Fi into the computer with its Intel Centrino processor technology, thus enabling the unwired laptop. Smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices are really still in their infancy, so it's no surprise that people still struggle with how to best integrate these devices into their lives."

Key survey findings

While connectivity at one's fingertips has enabled people be more productive, how people use technology in the presence of others can lead to frustration. The majority of those surveyed agree that they wish people practiced better etiquette when it comes to using their mobile devices in public areas. Roughly 1 in 5 admits to poor mobile behavior but continues the behavior because everyone else is doing it.

The desire to be more connected to family, friends and co-workers, combined with devices that are "always on," contributes to an innate need to have mobile devices available all day, every day, from early morning to late night. In fact, 1 in 5 adults admits to checking their mobile device before they get out of bed in the morning.

The allure

With a choice of sleek, small and powerful mobile devices on the market, people can easily take mobile devices with them wherever they go; making it easy to commit "public displays of technology." The survey revealed that people see an average of five mobile offenses every day and top mobile pet peeves remain unchanged from Intel's first examination of the state of mobile etiquette in 2009.

"The premise of etiquette and how we socialize with one another is not a new concept. Whenever we interact with another person directly or through the use of mobile technology, etiquette is a factor," explained author and etiquette expert Anna Post of The Emily Post Institute, in a statement. "We can all be more cognizant of how we use our mobile technology and how our usage may impact others around us - at home, in the office and whenever we are in public."

As mobile etiquette guidelines continue to evolve, Post offers these tips to those who use a variety of mobile devices on a daily basis:

  • Practice what you preach: If you don't like others' bad behavior, don't engage in it.
  • Be present: Give your full attention to those you are with, such as when in a meeting or on a date. (No matter how well you think you multi-task, you'll make a better impression if you don't.)
  • The small moments matter: Before making a call, texting or emailing in public, consider if your actions will impact others. If they will, reconsider, wait or move away first.
  • Some places should stay private: Don't use a mobile device while using a restroom, for example.

About the survey

The survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Ipsos on behalf of Intel from Dec. 10, 2010 to Jan. 5, 2011 among a nationally representative sample of 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

Tags: Google, Android, Blackberry, mobile email, mobile Internet,

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