Folium: Cell Phone Etiquette Around the World via Best Infographics


Folium: Cell Phone Etiquette Around the World via Best Infographics

Folium: Cell Phone Etiquette Around the World via Best Infographics


Have you ever wished to hold the world in your hands? Chances are if you are an American adult, you already do. Introducing: your cell phone. According to Pew Internet Project research, as of January 2014 90% of American adults own a cell phone, with 58% of those being a smartphone. Cell phones are everywhere (almost). While it took 38 years for the radio to reach 50 million users and the television 13 years, it took the “Draw Something” app only 50 days. With advances in technology, we have long since left behind the fear that cell phone radiation may give us cancer and have entered into the arena where cell phones are limitless tools.

The extent of their capabilities has long surpassed that of simply making a phone call. Phones can now access internet, play music, stream videos and television, take high quality pictures, not to mention the thousands of applications (“apps”) now downloadable to do anything from translate a foreign language, map and identify the constellations above us, to play “Angry Birds” or “Candy Crush,” etc. Many people are dependent upon their phones as their main source of communication, whether it be through phone conversations, text messages, e-mail access, or reading the news; thus the phone has become an extension of the person, a vital appendage with which many cannot part. But with the prevalence of cell phone use, it is important to understand that with the privilege of using a cell phone also come responsibilities. If you want to be a responsible cell phone user, you may want to brush up on the accepted cell phone etiquette of your country or the country to which you are traveling.

Just as other norms (gestures, tipping practices, slang, etc.) vary from culture to culture, so to does cell phone etiquette. Cell phone etiquette dictates how late one might call another: for instance, in the United States it is not appropriate to call after 9pm, whereas in India, one might call well after 10pm. Etiquette dictates how long one lets a phone ring: in the United States one might let a phone ring three to four times, in the United Kingdom, one might wait double the time-six to eight rings, while in Thailand it is customary to let a phone ring until someone answers! Use of voicemail varies from culture to culture.

Voicemail is a common tool utilized in the United States and United Kingdom, while cultures like China rarely use voicemail. Common salutations and closings vary also. Some striking differences also arise in the locations where one is “permitted” to answer a phone. In Brazil, do not be surprised if someone answers his or her phone in a movie theater. In China, do not be offended if someone answers his or her phone mid-conversation with you. However, if you are in Japan, try to avoid using your phone in public places and obey the No Cell Phone signs posted throughout the cities.

No matter where you might be, there are some helpful tips that you might like to keep in mind. Find an “exit strategy.” Have a plan of to where you might step out if you do need to answer your phone. Respect others; keep a respectful distance from others if you do need to use your phone(in the United States this is 8-10ft.). Pay attention to the person sitting across from you or with whom you are having a face-to-face conversation. And no matter which country you are in, the one universal rule: do not use your phone while driving any mode of transportation, whether it is a bicycle, rickshaw, or automobile, etc.

Aileen Pawloski Levy
LEAF Contributor