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Mobile manners--Jasmine's Tech Dos & Don'ts

Get schooled by CNET editor Jasmine France. This week: the proper way to use your cell phone in public.

Jasmine's Tech Dos and Don'ts

As a social butterfly, I have a love-hate relationship with cell phones. I haven't had a landline in more than six years, so I really can't live without my mobile--it's an essential tool for getting in touch with friends and making plans (and I honestly can't imagine life without Google Maps in my palm). However, I also feel a sickening dependence on the thing, and I am utterly annoyed by the behaviors it inspires out in public. To that end, I put together the following guidelines in the hopes that it will help some people remember to mind their manners.

I can't even begin to tell you how many stories I've read or heard regarding significant others' downright rude use of cell phones, so let's start with the cardinal rule: DON'T pick up your phone when you're out on a date. I don't care if you've been married to the person for 25 years--texting, gaming, surfing the Web, or otherwise engrossing yourself in your device while you're supposed to be enjoying a romantic evening with a real live human is completely unacceptable.

In fact, even if you're just out on a social call with a friend, keep your phone tucked away and give the person you're with your full attention. If you absolutely must take a call or shoot off a text, DO excuse yourself and find the most private spot possible to do so or wait until your date gets up to use the restroom (and be sure to tie things up by the time he or she returns). If you're out with a group, DON'T forget that the reason to go out with friends in the first place is to actually spend time with them. It's not as horrible to check your phone from time to time in this case, but keep the tech diversions to a minimum.

The B.S. Report

While we're on the topic of social gatherings, let's discuss locations. DON'T talk on your cell in theaters, restaurants, libraries, hospitals, or places of worship, and keep in mind that it's disrespectful to use your phone at all while attending a wedding or a funeral. At any of these places or events, DO keep your phone on silent or--better yet--turn it off completely. Take note that many businesses and government buildings have "no cell phone" policies in place these days, and it's best to follow the rules (or suffer the consequences).

On that same tip, DON'T talk on the phone while purchasing retail items or ordering food and drinks. Be polite to both the person serving you and the people behind you in line and end your call before you reach the counter.

Once you have those purchases squared away, it's time to hit the streets. Unless you have excellent hand-eye coordination and stellar peripheral vision, DON'T text and walk down a busy city sidewalk. We can all do without you running into us, and we'd hate to bear witness to tragedy when your distracted thumb-tapping causes you to meander out into traffic.

Also--not to sound like a broken record--DON'T forget that you're in public when making calls out on the streets. Cell phone microphones are generally pretty sensitive, so there's no need to yell into the receiver. Anytime you're on the phone outside of the privacy of your home, car, or office, try to keep a reasonable buffer between yourself and the people around you (I've heard that about 10 feet is a good distance). This let's you keep your intimate details to yourself and serves to minimize the annoyance to those around you.

I'll be the first to admit that I have a serious cell phone addiction; I feel like a part of me is missing when I don't have it on or near my person. Still, DO consider purposefully leaving your mobile at home from time to time. After a few moments of sheer panic, you'll be rewarded with a feeling of elation as the freedom from your cell phone shackles sinks in. Or maybe that's still just sheer panic.

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