November 21, 2007 Edition

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Cell phone civility

Linda Lou Moore
Guest Writer

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today . . ." ~ RING! RING!

"To be or not to . . ." ~ RING! RING!

"I would like to accept this award on behalf of . . ." ~ RING! RING!

Weddings, plays, speeches, the list is endless. These are cell phone horror stories that most of us have heard about or experienced. No wonder people complain about the lack of cell phone civility.

When cellular phones were introduced, the concept of instant availability was not only novel, but a breakthrough in technology. What a convenience, even a life saver.

Cell phones changed the way we talked with others. It is estimated that there are more than 120 million people in the United Stated who use cell phones. We are so used to this marvelous device that we forget or don't realize that instant access and availability can sometimes be intrusive, distracting and rude. A recent survey found that almost seven out of 10 people said that they encountered poor cell phone etiquette on a daily basis.

According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, there are millions of drivers using their cell phone while on the road, causing an increase in fatal accidents. Citing an increase in traffic accidents, many state governments have proposed restricting the use of hand-held phones while driving.

At Yale University's Saybrook College, cell phone etiquette has been introduced to the students. The use of cellular phones in the library, dining hall and in a common room has been addressed. In New York it is not unusual to hear the announcement "Please turn off all cell phones" at the beginning of a Broadway show. And, we've heard similar announcements when attending our local theatrical performances.

A growing number of restaurants are asking their patrons not to use their cell phones at the table. Many hospitals restrict the use of cell phones except in specific areas. Court bailiffs often announce that a ringing cell phone may become the property of a judge.

A cell phone has become a necessity and a convenience that most of us don't want to do without. However, most of us have encountered someone who makes or receives annoying cell phone calls. Cell phone civility is really all about common sense and courtesy. Here is some important information offered by a leading cellular provider.

Cell phone civility quick tips

DO: Turn off cell phone ringers in church, theaters, movies, museums, restaurants, concerts, classrooms, libraries, business meetings and interviews.

If you are in a quiet or private area or if you would disturb others then keep the phone quiet. If you need to know if you have received a call during this time then turn the phone on vibrate to alert you to a call or check your phone messages and voice mail.

DO: Try to keep your conversations short so as not to disturb others.

DO: Try to step away from others so as not to disturb them with your private conversation.

DO: Tell people you are using a cell phone. Telling someone you are on a cell phone informs them that there may be poor reception or breaks in the conversation.

DO: Remember that your conversation may be overheard by others so be cautious of discussing private information.

Following these suggestions can add civility to your cell phone conversations.

Quote of the day: "Civility costs nothing and buys everything." ~ Mary Wortley Montague

Linda Lou Moore of Paragould is trained and certified by The Protocol School of Washington, Washington, D.C. She offers customized individual and group etiquette programs for children, teens and adults. She may be reached at Post Office Box 145, Paragould, AR 72451 or at

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