In the past few years I have noted a relationship between digital devices and etiquette or lack there off. I am a people watcher and when I go out for dinner I am often surprised at the number of families and couples that are seemingly ignoring each other in favor of engaging with their digital devices. Are we losing the ability to communicate effectively with one another or just the ability to communicate face-to-face?
This inappropriate behavior can not only be observed at dinner, but is now visible in all venues in society. I find students ignoring one another during lunch and recess breaks, people walking down the street, heads down, showing no awareness of their surroundings, teachers are more caught up in checking their e-mail than in working with students. It appears as if age is not a barrier to poor manners. What we were taught in our youth seems to have lost the importance that it once had in society. Is this an new era of digital manners or has the technology changed so quickly that etiquette has not caught up?
So what do we need to expect from people who are using digital devices? Wade (2012) in an article on smartphone use suggests that these technological distractions are a part of our lives now and that we need to purposefully engage with those around us. These devices provide a mired of distractions which allows our focus to easily wane.Â In an ABC News (2012) interview with Dr. Genevieve Bell (Anthropologist) and Anna Post (Emily Post Institute) on cell phone etiquette they identify that people are getting frustrated with inappropriate cell phone use. Anna Post states that 92% of people want cell phone users to have better etiquette. This shows that we are definitely recognizing the bad etiquette of others, but often do not see it in our own actions. The problem comes down to that fact that it is not so much that the technology is the problem, but how we are using it.
If manners do need to catch up, then who has the responsibility for teaching users? Teachers? Parents? Or are users responsible for their own learning? This is a situation where the school and community need to work together in order to help develop digital etiquette in our students and children. No matter who has the responsibility, I think that there needs to be a significant change in behavior.
Â ABC News (Producer). (2011, February 25). Cell phone etiquette getting worse for Americans [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUP5kJPbS24&feature=related
Â Wade, A. (2012, May 26). Parents suffering iGuilt over smartphones. The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved from www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10808609