Owning a cell phone can be a lot of fun. It’s portable, convenient, and is comforting to have when driving alone late at night. But now that there are millions of people who own cell phones, proper cell phone etiquette is becoming a concern.

Owning a cell phone doesn’t give a person a right to be rude or inconsiderate of others. It may be okay to take your phone with you and have it on while you are in business settings, with the exception of business meetings, but it’s not okay in some social settings.

People in a movie theater aren’t going to appreciate it if your cell phone is ringing during a movie. They’ll be even more annoyed if you answer it and talk during the movie. A nice leisurely dinner at a restaurant can be ruined if someone at the table next to you has their phone on and is taking calls. I’ve even been in church near someone who apparently thought it was okay to take a call during services. I was close enough to hear what was being said and it definitely was not an urgent call.

Yes, sometimes it may be necessary to have your cell phone on even if you are in a restaurant, theater, concert hall, or meeting. In those situations, put the phone on vibrate. If the phone goes off, discreetly check to see who is calling. If it is necessary to talk to the caller, excuse yourself and go to a quiet area out of earshot of the other diners, theater patrons, etc and return the call.

In some parts of the world wireless phone jamming devices have been installed in public places so that your phone just won’t work. In many other places, signs are starting to pop up telling people to turn off their cell phones in both public and private buildings. Not turning off a cell phone can even cost a person money. In New York City, there’s a $50 fine for breaking a bylaw that prohibits the use of mobile/cell phones at all indoor performances.

A person can choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution. If people demonstrate consideration for others there won’t be the need for more jamming devices, more “no cell phone” signs, and more laws being passed to fine users who don’t obey the “no cell phone” rules.

Make sure the voice mail is set up on your phone. Encourage people to leave a message for you if you are not able to answer the phone. Then return the call as soon as you can. But make sure to return the call. Just as it is inconsiderate to take a call in a restaurant or theater, etc. it is also inconsiderate to not return a call in a timely manner.

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