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Cell Phones Are Changing Cultural Norms

This piece on how cell phones are changing society is fabulous.  First published in the San Francisco Chronicle on March 6th, my Google News subscription on "Cellphone Etiquette" dropped it into my mailbox last week while I was vacationing.  There are all kinds of interesting facts, such as that the average American talks 13 hours per month on the cell, while those in the 18 to 24 age group talk a massive 22 hours per month.  That’s 1320 minutes per month

Cell phone etiquette is changing quickly too.

  • 87% of Americans cite annoying cell phone calls as the third most bothersome conduct after overall rude behaviour, and use of bad language. 
  • 38% of people believe it’s fine to use a cell phone in the bathroom, down from 62 percent in 2003 and 39 percent in 2000.
  • Just 2% say that using a cell phone in a movie or theater is acceptable, down from 11% in 2000.
  • Cell phone use in restaurants and on public transportation is also declining in acceptability down to 21% and 45% respectively.

Fascinatingly, however, Professor Paul Levinson at Fordham University, thinks that the swing toward better behaved cellular phone users is just temporary. 

"I predict that in five to 10 years we’ll see well over 80 percent have no problem with cell phones in a restaurant. When new media is introduced people tend to be loyal to the old media they grew up with and often suspicious and antagonistic to new media," he said. "But for someone in their 20s, it’s like it’s a part of our bodies. It’s like leaving the house without one of your ears."

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