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Texting At The Table Okay? Maybe in 2050.

Posted by Peter Post  February 12, 2013 07:00 AM

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USA Today reported on a new poll out by the Center for the Digital Future that sheds some interesting light on people’s perceptions of what is and what isn’t acceptable usage of texting.

If you don’t break the statistics down by age, they present a pretty strong case for not using a mobile device while at a meal. Consider the following statistics quoted in the article:

“62% said just having a mobile device on the table during a meal was inappropriate.”

“76% said texting on a mobile device during a meal was inappropriate.”

“84% said talking on a mobile device during a meal was not right.”

The question these statistics raise for me is: Why would you place your device on the table unless you plan to respond to it if it signals you? Yet, the statistics indicate that people would do just that: place it on the table and that’s okay as long as you don’t use it. Weird.

According to the survey, it appears as if the majority of the respondents think that mobile devices don’t belong at the table—until age is taken into account: 50% of 18 to 29 year olds say texting at a meal is okay, while only 15% of people over 30 agree. Frankly that makes sense. Younger people have grown up with texting and social media, while for the older crowd distractions such as cell phones and mobile devices at the table are not acceptable. At a multi-generational table, making an exception for a distraction like texting may be a stretch for the older demographic.

So, while the overall statistics indicate that use of a mobile device at a meal is still considered inappropriate today, when broken down, the statistics may indicate that one day in the future as a society we may decide that texting at the dinner table is okay.

What’s your take on this issue?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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About the author

Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book "Essential Manners For Men" was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of "Essential Manners for Couples," "Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf," and co-author of "A Wedding Like No Other." Post is Emily Post's great-grandson. His media appearances include "CBS Sunday Morning," CBS's "The Early Show," NBC's "Today," ABC's "Good Morning America," and "Fox News."

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