How To Stop Your Annoying Mobile Habits

How To Stop Your Annoying Mobile Habits

Talking on the phone while driving; checking Facebook at the dinner table, taking pictures of everything. We’re all annoying someone with the way we use our phones. No-one’s suggesting you should stop using your phone altogether, but a little consideration goes a long way.

In truth, most mobile phone etiquette dramas boil down to everyone recognising one simple fact: you are not the only person in the world. People who can’t go five seconds without a Facebook update at dinner need to remember that there are other people sitting at the table. People who don’t want to hear someone else chatting on the train should remember the conversation will end soon enough. Tolerance is the key. With that said, here are some specific examples of how you might annoy others with your phone and how to stop.

The Multi-Tasking Driver


Driving and using a phone is illegal, but that doesn’t stop people from doing it. The solution: remove the temptation. If your willpower for blocking out a mobile phone ring is weak, silence your phone before you get in the car so you’re not distracted by it. If that doesn’t work, put it in the boot — you can’t answer it there. If you must conduct conversations in the car, use a Bluetooth headset — you’re breaking the law if you don’t — and make sure you have effective voice control. Photo by eyeliam.[clear]

The Smartphone Addict


Ever since mobile phones have first appeared, our dining companions have been complaining: “Put your phone away while we’re eating!” Smartphones have made things worse. You feel the urge to grab your phone to check social networks, texts, phone calls or even play a game while you’re in public with friends. You need to think things through before you grab your handset.

In Real Simple’s Tech Etiquette Manual, author Will Schwalbe suggests that if you wouldn’t work on a crossword puzzle in a given situation, then it’s probably not a good time to use your smartphone. Simply put, if someone is in front of you and wants your attention, it’s probably not the best time to tap away on your phone.

If you struggle with that, you may have a smartphone addiction (rather than just having bad manners). You should treat it like any other addiction and wean yourself off it. We’ve talked about doing this by outlining your own rules of use (no phone usage at social events, no answering calls on a date, or no smartphone usage during short-term interactions) and disabling alerts. You can also forcibly block social networks during certain times of the day so you can reclaim your attention span and enjoy the moment. Photo by John. [clear]

The Poorly-Timed Photographer


Most people aren’t annoyed if you snap a picture or two on your mobile phone. That changes when you ignore what’s going on in front of you to edit, annotate, crop, filter and post that picture to a social network. Sure, sometimes a picture deserves to go up right now, but most times it’s OK to wait a few minutes until you’re alone. If you’re in a situation where you’re interacting with people, feel free to take as many photos as you want. But when you’re done, hold off on the editing, cropping and sharing until after the event. Latergram, anyone? Photo by Chris Radcliff. [clear]

The Constant Caller


Many people will happily carry on loud public conversations on trains, at cinemas, in the checkout queue or while with a group of friends who are trying to converse with each other. This is, essentially, selfishness. Just because you don’t care if your conversation remains private doesn’t mean everyone wants to hear it. The rule of thumb here is very simple: if you’re going to talk on the phone in a public spot, step away from other people. Always. When you take that call, make sure you excuse yourself politely. If you’re stuck in a small public space (or on a train or bus), try to keep the conversation as short as possible and speak at a normal volume. And don’t talk on the phone in a public toilet. No excuses — just don’t do it. Photo by Lee Brimelow.

What bad phone habits do you encounter, and how can they be fixed? Tell us in the comments.


  • Maybe a little off topic but relates to the “The Smartphone Addict” …The best thing that I ever did on my smartphone was turn off app notifications (esp. Facebook) and have 2-4 hour update intervals for e-mail. Doing this has made me feel like I have taken control of my phone time rather than having the phone control me!

  • When you’re out at a restaurant with a group of friends, play the phone game. As soon as they sit down, everyone puts their phone in the middle of the table. If someone cracks and checks their phone before the meal is over, they have to pay the bill. Works like a charm.

  • It’s rather interesting when you fall into the “Smartphone Addict” category and everyone else you’re out and about with does as well. You look around at times and everyone has a phone in their hand – they’re also tagging and commenting on each others posts at the same time.

  • What if your boot is accessible from the back seat? – a lot of cars, even sedans you can get into the boot by pulling down the back seat.

    And a way to stop people having loud conversations on their phone in public? Pull out your phone and film them having the conversation. They get angry, that you’re invading their privacy and end the conversation or walk away.

      • When you’re at red lights. Talking on the phone at lights is still a $300 fine. So if you’re to tempted to be able to leave your phone on the passenger seat or in your pocket without answering it, leaving it in the boot might not work.

        • Seriously? You would actually go to the trouble of unbuckling your seat belt, stretching out to the back to push the latch that folds your back seat down, folding the seat down, and reaching even further back to actually get to your phone in the boot (by this point you’re probably mostly in the back seat yourself), just to answer your phone?? I suggest you go to your car and see how much effort it actually takes to get something out of the boot while staying in the front seat.

  • My main worry is that planes will now allow phones. Hundreds of people on their phone talking like on a noisy bus it’s gonna be a nightmare. You trying to sleep on a 12 hour flight everyone around you is on their phones..

  • I have one friend who is constantly on her phone. We go out for dinner or coffee or whatever and she’s on her iphone on facebook or posting pictures to facebook or instagram or tagging us at wherever we are having coffee…It doesn’t end. I end up grabbing my phone out to fill in the gaps in conversation, because there is only so long you can talk to someone who is looking down at there phone without thinking that you’re not really being listened to.
    I don’t think that she’s deliberately trying to be rude, but it comes across disinterested. I think it’s part of this day and age, there are people who have to be constantly connected and have to respond to their notifications straight away. Or if they’ve posted something on facebook or sent a text, they have to continuously check to see if someone has responded. I just kind of put up with it. :-/

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