Cell Phone Etiquette: What Would “Dear Abby” Say?

Does cell phone etiquette exist? 

Because I don’t want to assume what Dear Abby would say about my question I’m going to write a letter to Dear Crabby instead.

Dear Crabby,

Yesterday my husband and I attended a college graduation. These graduates were receiving their Master’s and Doctoral degrees. I was shocked by what I saw; graduates talking, texting and scrolling through Facebook on their cell phones during the graduation ceremony.

cell phone etiquette

I understand proud parents, spouses, and grandparents wanting to make pictures of their graduate… but graduates talking, texting or scrolling through Instagram or Facebook during their own graduation ceremony (in my opinion) was extremely rude. The President of the College was speaking and students were being recognized for outstanding achievements.

cell phone etiquette

This is only the graduates directly in front of me. Count how many you see on their cell phones.

Then there were the people sitting behind me who had young children. The ceremony was long and to keep their children busy they let them watch videos on their cell phones. The sound was turned down but not off and I could hear it.

The guy sitting in front of us was probably in his early 20’s and his sister was graduating. He was watching videos and showing them to his dad. I tried not to watch but I couldn’t help but seeing since he was directly in front of me. It was some guy riding a dirt bike and crashing into a pond. Seriously? That couldn’t wait?

I’ve been to restaurants and seen families talking and texting on their phones. In fact I watched one family at a restaurant not long ago and their daughter only looked up from her cell phone long enough to place her order. The rest of the meal (at least an hour) she never looked up or spoke again.

As I watched these graduates at the ceremony yesterday I couldn’t help but wonder what the world will be like when my grandchildren graduate from college. If someone doesn’t start teaching cell phone etiquette soon I can only imagine that they will all be wearing ear plugs, listening to music, smacking gum (that’s another thing I was taught was rude to do in public and I saw lots of graduates chewing gum) and counting the minutes until someone unplugs their ear plugs and yells, “It’s your turn to walk across the stage. Are you coming or not?”

I also worry that it’s only my generation who thinks this is rude. Kids who grow up with cell phones at their disposal 24/7 see nothing wrong with not having one in their hand all the time. If it’s okay to play on your cell phone at a graduation or a restaurant is it okay at church or during a funeral?

Am I just being old and crabby or am I right and this is disrespectful and rude?



Dear Readers-I want to hear your thoughts and your answers to my letter! Pretend you are Dear Crabby (Or Dear Abby) and tell me what she would say!


  1. HI Teresa,
    Wow, I do find that rude. A few years back I attended a memorial service for a young person and I was in shock of the young ones there using their cell phones. There is a time and place for everything and that is not one of them.
    I can see a few checking phones at graduating ceremony but not to be watching video’s.
    I think the attention span of the younger generation is much shorter than ours ever was. It’s sad.

  2. I agree I am dear crabby like this

  3. I feel your pain Dear Crabby. Saturday evening we were sitting in lobby of waiting for our table at Red Robin. Talked amongst the three of us. Man to left of daughter got up and moved elsewhere as he was on his phone scrolling etc, and I didn’t think we were that loud. We eat without our phones. Husband doesn’t have one. Too much use if it even at checkout…customers who talk on phone and rarely say a word to me as I ring up their purchase. Many others will not answer or tell person on phone they’ll call back. Yes. There needs to be cell phone etiquette. No cell phone driving either!!!! Ok I’m off my soapbox! Have a great week!

  4. teresak 15 May, 2017

    Thanks for chiming in Becky! I appreciate your opinion!

  5. teresak 16 May, 2017

    Thanks for commenting Lisa and I so agree!

  6. Teresa B 16 May, 2017

    I agree! I have seen this also happen during church services, professional meetings, doctor office visits, etc. I use my phone frequently and always have it nearby for work & personal reasons. I think it is important to teach appropriate usage of phones in all settings.

  7. teresak 17 May, 2017

    I so agree Teresa!

  8. The one that bothers me the most are whole families in restaurants with children and the children on their electronics. No one is talking to each other.

  9. teresak 21 May, 2017

    I know Cindy, me too!