Put The Cellphone Down and Back Away Slowly: Mobile Etiquette Gets Tough

cell phone talking
cell phone talking

In some countries, cell-phone talk in public is more frowned upon than others. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Nearly all of us have encountered it at some point – the boor who puts a cell-phone call on speakerphone in public, oblivious to the bystanders leveling death-stares in his direction. According to a new Expedia poll, this is the most frowned-on mobile-phone offense in the world, especially in South Korea, Ireland, and New Zealand.

The survey, which queried 8,856 employed adults in 25 countries across the globe (excluding Africa), found that 96 percent of working adults own at least one mobile device – smartphone, tablet, e-reader, laptop, or smartwatch. It also highlights the global differences in what passes for good etiquette on our mobile devices.

For instance, the No. 2 biggest tech-etiquette violation is playing music, games, or videos without using your headphones, which earned an overall disapproval rating of 47 percent (speakerphone calls came in No. 1 at 53 percent). But if you find yourself without headphones in Spain, Norway, or Japan, you’re a lot less likely to get hostile looks than if you’re in Ireland, New Zealand, or South Korea.

music headphones
music headphones

They really expect you to use your headphones for music in Ireland, New Zealand, and South Korea. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Taking a photo of a stranger ranks as No. 3 on the list of eyebrow-raising breaches (42 percent disapprove), especially in Norway, Ireland, Mexico, and South Korea. But if you just have to snap a shot of that intriguing stranger, you’re better off in Hong Kong, Malaysia, or even the United States.

Related: “Passenger Shaming”: Pictures of the Rudest, Grossest Passengers in the Air

In general, the numbers show that Ireland, Germany, and New Zealand hold the strictest standards for acceptable behavior. In Spain and Japan? Just about anything goes!

restaurant phone call
restaurant phone call

Among the biggest no-nos: Making calls in a restaurant. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Here’s how other things we do on our smartphones stack up:

Thirty-six percent think it’s rude to make a phone call while seated at a restaurant or café, something you might want to reconsider especially if you’re in the Netherlands (the Germans and Irish don’t like it much, either). But if you’re in Thailand, go for it! The Dutch also strenuously disapprove of making video calls (including FaceTime and Skype) in public; you can pretty much feel free to fire up the video chat in South Korea, Japan, or Thailand.

The French, Germans, and Dutch are more apt to look askance if you’ve enabled your alerts and notifications, and they’re inappropriately loud. Sending emails or texts during a seated performance is not kindly looked upon in Germany, Ireland, and New Zealand, but those laissez-faire Spanish and Japanese hardly mind.

Related: Travel Etiquette: How to Behave at a Hotel

food instagram
food instagram

The least offensive places to Instagram your food: Thailand, Singapore, and South Korea. (Photo: iStock)

If you simply must post a photo of your meal on Instagram, the least likely to be offended are Thais, Singaporeans, and South Koreans. But you’ll be least tolerated in Germany and India. Austrians and Germans don’t think much of using your device to entertain/distract the kids. No one seems to care one way or another if you’re wearing Google Glass.

Related: The Great Vacation #Selfie War: Parents vs. Teens

With all of this texting, photo-taking, game-playing, video-watching, and everything else we depend on our devices for these days, this finding shouldn’t come as a surprise: Travelers from the U.S., Norway, Sweden, India, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand worry more about losing their mobile device than they do about losing their luggage.

Here’s the complete breakdown of tech violations:

Making calls on speakerphone: 53%

Playing music/games/videos without headphones: 47%

Taking photos/videos of strangers: 42%

Taking photos/videos of strangers: 36%

Video calls/FaceTime/Skype: 27%

Loud mobile device alerts: 26%

Messaging/emailing at seated performance/activity: 24%

Photographing food during meal: 18%

WATCH: Did technology kill chivalry?

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