UAE users believe we lack mobile etiquette
Rushika Bhatia

UAE users believe we lack mobile etiquette

Are you guilty of any of the following: texting while driving, texting your mid-meeting update, or talking loudly on your phone in public? Chances are the answer is “yes” and you are guilty of “public displays of technology”. According to Intel’s Mobile Etiquette survey which sought to uncover our bad mobile habits, those gripes are UAE residents’ pet mobile technology peeves from a pool of over 500 respondents.

With a choice of sleek, small and powerful mobile devices on the market, people can easily take mobile devices with them wherever they go, making it easy to commit mobile etiquette faux pas or “public displays of technology.” As the innovator behind the processors, or “brains,” and complementary technologies that power many of today’s mobile devices, Intel undertook this  study to provide a glimpse into how people in the UAE use, will use or would like to use technology, including mobile devices, well into the future. 

We all see the appeal of being constantly connected to a lively, virtual community, and of always being up-to-date and up-to-speed. To that end, 50 % of respondents indicate they check their mobile device before going to work in the morning with almost a third (31%) doing that before they even get out of bed. It’s the new norm in the UAE. Mobile technology has become an integral part of our public profile, with our devices often standing as a status symbol (48% of respondents identified with this statement).

Nassir Nauthoa, Intel general manager for the GCC comments: “The research shows that people’s tolerance levels are rising and the use of mobile devices is now so pervasive in our society that 70% of respondents felt it’s necessary to have its own code of conduct. It is a difficult phenomenon to regulate as people’s feelings and emotions are involved. After all, these devices enable us to keep in touch not just with friends and family, but also with a wider community of “kindred spirits”. When we look at the survey data and begin to understand the frustrations – and in some cases confusion – around how mobile devices are used, it becomes obvious that we are still at an evolutionary stage.”

Nauthoa adds: “It was just eight years ago that Intel lead the movement to integrate WiFi into PCs with its Intel Centrino processor technology, and this enabled the unwired laptop to be taken out and used in the public sphere. Smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices, while visually familiar to us all now, are still finding their place in our behavioural norms.”

Social media, which drives much of the mobile device traffic, is very much included within this demand for mobile manners – thanks to a wide array of etiquette breaches. While usage models vary across individuals and devices, most (86%) respondents said they check their social media status daily. Of that 43% check more than 3-4 times a day, and 13% check more than once an hour.

Yet there are limits to acceptance of mobile device usage, and there remain sacrosanct areas of etiquette which we are reluctant to breach. The dinner table, and the public bathroom, are examples that were identified as undesirable places to use mobile technology – whether a smartphone or a laptop. Using someone else’s account to post a joke, over sharing of personal information and tagging unflattering photo of your friends are highlighted as the most objectionable offenses people commit, according to 60% of the respondents. 

The top mobile etiquette gripes continue to be the use of mobile devices while driving (71%), talking on a device loudly in public places (62%), and losing awareness of surroundings or conversations while texting or typing (54%).

Intel suggests the following mobile etiquette tips to those who use a variety of mobile devices on a daily basis:

  • Practice what you preach: If you don’t like others’ bad behavior, don’t engage in it.
  • Be present: Give your full attention to those you are with, such as when in a meeting or on a date. No matter how well you think you multi-task, you’ll make a better impression.
  • The small moments matter. Before making a call, texting or emailing in public, consider if your actions will impact others. If they will, reconsider, wait or move away first.
  • Talk with your family, friends and colleagues about ground rules for mobile device usage during personal time.
  • Some places should stay private: Don’t use a mobile device while using a restroom.