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Nov 28, 2013 10:48 PM

Mobile device use by guests . . .

Is it just me or does anyone else find it rude for guests at a party to use their mobile device, exclusively, rather than talk to other guests? Your thoughts?

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  1. Seems that those using their devices don't think it rude behavior, so at the particular event this occurred it seems that yeah, it might be just you. If it were my party, the device-using guests wouldn't be invited back, but since I'm in the minority in refusing to get a cell phone, I might soon find there is no one left to invite to my parties. So perhaps the best way is to either overlook it, or come up with a polite but devastating remark to shame them into putting the device down.

    1 Reply
    1. re: janniecooks

      Being on electronic devices to the exclusion of interacting with people is rude, IMO.

      Our Thanksgiving day group consisted of our 12-year old daughter (who lamented the lack of kids present) and adults aged 33-75. When we sat down at the dinner table, I held up my phone, which I had just used to take pics, and asked if anyone else's phone needed to join mine for a timeout. My daughter surrendered her phone (she knows the drill by now), as did the adults who brought theirs to the table. I was thankful it wasn't a big deal to anyone, but we also had people present that for reasons too long to go into here, who were just truly grateful to be together.

    2. Not just you...................
      We have rules about this in our home. Family and guests are informed in their invitation. Leave your mobile device in the car or in your pocketbook turned off. If you need to make a call or check messages, take yourself into a quiet empty room or outdoors.
      Under no circumstances are these devices permitted in the dining room. (This applies to our children as well as guests).

      Yesterday, my 11 year old nephew was sent away from the table after he was caught texting in his lap. He knows the rules, lives only 3 minutes away and is in the house a few times each week. BIL took the iPhone and told nephew he might get it back after New Year's.

      We are not so modern that we don't have a landline. If there was an emergency and any of our guests needed to be reached the landline could have been called.

      We did schedule a pre-dessert SKYPE break during which time the guests were invited to gather in our sunroom and several laptops were set up so that we could communicate with family members unable to make the trip home for Thanksgiving (25 yo daughter works on a cruise ship, mother is bedridden in a nursing home, etc.) This gives both time for a stretch after 2 hours at the table, and a chance to clean/clear the table and set with dessert plates, silver and coffee cups.

      24 Replies
      1. re: bagelman01

        I don't know, BM. I have mixed feelings about this. It's family. You want them to enjoy themselves and not feel restricted by rigid rules. I can understand kids playing games or texting because they're not able to participate in adult conversations. I do agree that adults should know better and not have to be told.

        1. re: mucho gordo

          There are plenty of people who are required by their job to be on call. That (for some of them) requires that they have their company-issued phone on their person and answer when contacted. These people don't get excluded from anything at our house - to the contrary, we're appreciative of their hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. We're grateful that they are willing to make themselves available to serve others, when necessary, even if that means getting an emergency call or having to answer a text in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner.

          1. re: MrsPatmore

            That is completely different than a guest excluding all others to focus on their phone

            its one thing for a first responder, er doc, etcetera to answer an emergency call or for that matter a finance person dealing with overseas markets. Being on call is one thing. It's another when that person is playing FarmVille, checking FB etc.

            1. re: foodieX2

              I didn't mean to say that those were the same things. But it is beyond my comprehension to issue an invitation to my home requiring the invitees to leave cell phones in their car or "turned off in pocketbook". This isn't junior high and I'm not the principal. I can't imagine sending such an invitation, nor receiving one. Rude behavior is what it is. And plenty of people expressed poor table manners long before the era mobile devices - just ask my older brother! LOL

              1. re: MrsPatmore

                It may be beyond your comprehension, but it is made necessary by experience. That last Thanksgiving that Mrs. B's youngest sister and BIL attended, they spent the entire meal texting each other and never engaged anyone in conversation or attended to their children. They ignored requests (made by both my wife and MIL) to put the damn cellphones away. They were given the rule with last year's invitation and chose not to attend. This year they were not invited, and they were not missed.
                Thanksgiving dinner in our home is a FORMAL dinner. It is NOT a relaxed prolonged gathering with kids in the playroom or den and others watching football on TV. Adults should be able to handle 2 hours of gracious dining, wine and conversation without their electronics. We dine at 1PM so it is after the parade and before football for those who wish to partake at home. None of the family had more than a 20 minute drive.

                1. re: MrsPatmore

                  I agree. It sounds just like junior high to issue rules. If someone "misbehaves" feel free to give 'em a sideways glare, but please don't treat me like a 12 year old. I think I'm capable of putting my phone on vibrate in my back pocket, and retreating to the ladies room if I really feel I must answer it (elderly father, sick kid, whatever). I think that's better than trying to think of every person who might possibly have an emergency, and giving them the landline number of where I'm going. I thought cells were supposed to simplify things!

                  1. re: MrsPatmore

                    I think if people want to behave like children, then they should be treated like children. Absorbing yourself in your cell phone in front of guests is horribly disrespectful. It's like saying you don't care about their company. Heck, I'm sure if someone cracked out the newspaper at the dinner, people would have something to say.

                    1. re: salsailsa

                      But this seems to be a "rule in place" for everyone invited, whether or not they have misbehaved in the past. If I (as someone who seldom receives cell phone calls, and if I do, it's probably rather important) was issued such a rule, I'd be insulted.

                      1. re: DGresh

                        Unfortunately, that's how most rules come about. Someone pushes things to the limits and ruins it for everyone.

                        I can see both sides of the coin. The problem is once someone innocently checks their phone those who can't contain themselves think it's perfectly acceptable to sit and text.

                        I'm in your boat- check it discreetly but I've been in situations where I've had to threaten to "break fingers" if the given person didn't stop texting on their phone.

                        1. re: DGresh

                          Would you be insulted if someone had a no smoking 'rule in their house?

                          1. re: Withnail42

                            I've got an 83 year old ailing father who lives far away. His brother, sister, friends could all be the one who might need to reach me. I, quite frankly, need to have my cell phone on vibrate. I'm not going to give each of them a play by play of the home phone numbers where I might be. Am I supposed to sneak out to my car to check my phone every half hour? Sounds like my senior prom, but it wasn't phones. I think a no smoking rule is kind of different.

                            1. re: Withnail42

                              That's completely different. I can glance at my phone as easily as glance at the artwork on your walls. And if something needs my attention, I can excuse myself for the moment and step away. Just as you might step away to ask a question like "where did you get that outfit?, I love it,"

                              The OP said use the phone exclusively. That is different. I wouldn't invite that guest again, rather than impose rules on polite and valued guests.

                              1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                                OP here. Exactly, I said "exclusively." Had I taken out my smart phone or my digital camera and taken a video of this dinner, it would be easier to see what was going on. It was not a formal, sit-down dinner. It was more of a buffet and you could sit wherever you found a seat. The hosts were not very hospitable either and did nothing to foster conviviality among the guests so I doubt I'll accept another invitation.

                                I don't want to tell people they can't have their phones on them or that they're forbidden to look at them after dinner but this 40-something year-old anesthesiologist really got on my last nerve with her rudeness!

                                1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                                  Similar situation here. My mom is a heart and stroke patient a few times over so if she or my dad calls I ALWAYS answer. Also as a nursing student It not unheard of for me to receive a text or a call from an instructor to go to the clinical site and pull medical information on a patient in order to be prepared for the next morning.

                              2. re: DGresh

                                Don't be insulted, don't attend. A host has the right to set rules for invitees.
                                We also don't allow smoking in our house. You want to smoke do it elsewhere. You want to check your cellphone, excuse yourself from the table and go do it in your car.

                                And as for those who want to share pictures, etc that are on their phones, after dinner in the den is the appropriate time, not at the formal dining table.

                        2. re: MrsPatmore

                          That doesn't apply to any of our invited guests.
                          What was the first thing my father taught me in business? Know your customers. I know my invited guests. There were 28 for Thanksgiving, and not one of them was in this all important, on call category. In fact of the 10 'working' adults all us us are professionals who own our own practice/business and none in the medical field. And as none of the three attorneys present practice criminal law, there was no chance of getting a call from the local lockup.

                          1. re: bagelman01

                            BM, in that case, you have my condolences! I'm truly sorry that you live in an environment where you've found it necessary to set forth cell phone "rules" in a dinner invitation! That sucks. Hopefully your meal fulfilled all of your expectations and no one broke any of your house rules. I guess the reason that I can't understand all your rules is that no one in my circle of friends or family would ever, ever behave like that in the first place.

                            1. re: MrsPatmore

                              You can choose your friends but not your relatives, In our case the offenders have all been on the in-law side and aged 40 and under.
                              Two years ago, I physically took away a phone from wife's 27 year old nephew who was playing games at the table and didn't even have the sound off.
                              He wasn't invited this year. BUT his younger brother told me, You know uncle M, my brother just won't learn. He got fired from his job last week when they caught him playing games on his phone during a meeting with his bosses.

                              Holidays are a chance to teach the younger generation about proper behavior and social norms. We set a FORMAL table with a 7 piece place setting, specific wine glasses, etc. My 40 year old neice in law (who grew up in simple surroundings in the midwest) is an attorney, a partner in a huge international firm. She told me that she never would have handled the interview lunch it she hadn't learned which silver and glasses to use at our table ...

                              1. re: bagelman01

                                If we don't learn manners from our family, from whom will we learn? I'm with you, B.

                                1. re: bagelman01

                                  A holiday meal where I'm given rules that do not reflect the era I am not trusted to distinguish between excusing myself from the table to answer a specific need and playing Angry Birds while the turkey is being carved, and I am expected to learn from my older generation about proper behavior seems like just what Norman Rockwell had in mind for the holidays..

                            2. re: MrsPatmore

                              But they should still excuse themselves from the table.

                            3. re: mucho gordo

                              Such an occasion is how kids *learn* to participate in adult conversation! And to have manners.

                              1. re: bagelman01

                                BIL has the right idea. We've never had an egregious breach at the table during a big family dinner, fortunately. All the kids were clued in beforehand, I'm sure. Lots of checking into phones has been to show online comedy to relatives, but that's outside mealtime.

                              2. Exclusively? You mean they don't engage with anyone and just stayed glued to their phone? Yes, that is extremely rude and I can not think of a single circumstance where that would acceptable.

                                The today show did a excerpt on asking guests to take their shoes off and the overwhelming response was "your house, your rules". Seems like you need to set some ground rules if your guests think this is acceptable behavior.

                                In your case I would have approached the guest and said something politely. It's one thing to have your phone on hand in case of an emergency, it's another to ignore everyone in the room.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: foodieX2

                                  Yes! Exclusively! It was a doctor about 45-50 and her 3 kids. It was at her BIL/SIL's house. I don't mind a doctor having her phone on in case of an emergency; not to completely ignore a live human in order to teach her son how to play a video game! I'd seen her at another event where we had a very nice conversation a few years ago--before her smart phone took over. It's like crack! It wasn't just her and the kids, her mother was on hers too!

                                  1. re: Kate is always hungry

                                    It sounds like a genetic defect. Although from the sound of the situation you shouldn't take it personally- she was teaching her son to play a game to avoid conversation with him too....!!!

                                  2. re: foodieX2

                                    Never mind the phone aspect. To be invited somewhere and then completely ignore the people there........RUDE, RUDE, RUDE. Doesn't matter if it's a phone, a book or an MP3 player, whatever.

                                    I'm generally not a look at the phone at the dinner table person. At TG last week I informed people I was taking a few pics because friends back home were so interested in what was for dinner. I took my pic, tweeted it, put the phone away. All that was done before everyone was at the dinner table so some didn't even know.


                                    1. re: Davwud

                                      Exactly. The behavior is the thing, not the device. It would be just as rude to spend the entire time reading a book, or listening to your ipod with your eyes closed, or for that matter, chatting exclusively with the cat.

                                  3. I find it rude.
                                    Two of my guests were on twitter promoting their business while cooking. Left their sound on and it was very distracting.
                                    Then they were texting each other at dinner. They are 30.
                                    Then after dinner the 18 and 20 year olds were playing video games on their phones while the rest of the family was looking at wedding pictures.
                                    My stepfather in law has also been known to do this.

                                    1. Exclusively? Yes! But...I had dinner with my parents, brothers, and granddad. We used our phones to show my granddad photos of my sister's super cute little girl who he's meeting next month, to sign my mom up for a word game I can play with her, to show my dad a funny video, and to show my brother (just home from a combat deployment) pictures of a trip to Africa. So, I can't say smart phones should be banned, but you shouldn't become a recluse when using them. If you're engaging with others, I say have at it. Hope everyone had a joyful Thanksgiving!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                        hobbert-- i think this is a case of interacting using technolgy as a mere prop. that is an a horse of different color

                                        1. re: girloftheworld

                                          Yep, that's why I clarified exclusive use.

                                          1. re: girloftheworld

                                            In my house, at some dinners, besides the pictures, a smart phone is used to provide a bit of trivia or answer a question. We like our trivia and facts in my house, so an unanswered question can really bother us.