Think a boring meeting is the perfect time to catch up on some overdue emails? Your coworkers likely disagree, and may judge you if you try it. 

While the acceptable boundaries for mobile device usage keep expanding, 94 percent of Americans believe it's still unacceptable to fiddle with your phone during a business meeting, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center. Remarkably, participants in the survey of 3,000 adults said it was almost as inappropriate to whip out an iPhone during a meeting as would be in church (considered off limits by 96 percent of people) and even ruder than doing it at a family dinner (88 percent).

Men are more accepting of cell phone use in meetings than women; 7 percent of men say it’s fine, compared with 4 percent of women. Perhaps not surprisingly, smartphone owners were more accommodating of cell phone use in meetings than non-owners (6 percent vs. 4 percent.)

Adults under 30 are the most lenient; 10 percent aged 18 to 29 saying cell phone use during meetings is okay. Among those aged 30-49, 6 percent say it's okay, and percentage continues to decline as the age of respondents increases.

So, if you're a millenial trying to impress your baby boomer boss, maybe consider muting your cell and turning it face down during the next roundtable discussion.

What about cell phone use at a restaurant? Answer: Not as rude as using it during a meeting, but still rude. Pew reports that 62 percent of Americans think it is generally not okay to use a cell phone at a restaurant and the remaining 38 percent think it’s just fine.

The bottom line of the study is that as ubiquitous as cell phone use is, people think it hurts more than it helps with in-person interaction.

Frequent or even just occasional cell phone use in social settings is detrimental to conversation according to 82 percent of American adults, Pew reports. And yet 89 percent of respondants say they used their cell during their most recent social gathering.

That inconsistency “is major part of the picture,” according to a Pew press release about the survey 

“People are trying to cope with new norms about when it is rude or permissible to use their phones, when they should feel insulted or tolerate phone use by others, and when public spaces should be off-limits to intimate - or loud - phone conversations,” the release states.

Published on: Aug 26, 2015