The Culture of Internet Surfing on the Toilet and Everywhere Else


Have you ever used your phone and/or laptop while, ahem, using the restroom? If you’re worried that chatting, texting, emailing, and surfing while on the can is socially unacceptable, then worry no more!

According to a recent Intel study on technology etiquette, 75% of U.S. survey responders feel “it is perfectly appropriate to use Internet-enabled devices, including laptops, netbooks and cell phones, in the bathroom.” (Never mind the germs!)

But you’re not quite off the hook when it comes to mobile usage in public situations: 69% of respondents feel that “checking e-mails, sending text messages and making phone calls while in the company of others, are unacceptable.”

To be frank, I employ a mixed approach to mobile etiquette. I text and surf the Internet on my smartphone while in the company of friends, family, and colleagues. But I rarely answer phone calls while in the company of anyone (unless it’s an emergency), and I turn off my phone entirely when in a business meeting. However, I find it irritating to be in the company of people, including my friends, who constantly text, surf, and talk on their phones.

Clearly, we are in need of some hard, fast rules, and Anna Post — author and etiquette expert for the Emily Post Institute — agrees: “As technology continues to become more prevalent and play an integral role in our everyday lives, it becomes more challenging to discern appropriate behavior from potentially offensive behavior.”

Guide us, please, Ms. Post!

In the meantime, let’s make up our own rules. Which mobile usage scenarios are acceptable/unacceptable, normal/weird for you? Surfing the Internet on a date? Talking in the elevator? Texting in church?

Read about Intel’s survey here.

About Melody Demel

Melody is Senior Manager, PR for Boingo Wireless, where she is responsible for media relations, brand building and thought leadership initiatives. Melody is a die-hard Nebraska Cornhuskers fan and retired NCAA DI college field hockey player.
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