New poll seeks to find what's socially acceptable when it comes to using tech

From sending texts at the dinner table to talking loudly on your phone in a public place, a new poll looks at what we deem to be socially acceptable when it comes to using tech.

Do these new standards mean breaking up by Whatsapp is now OK, or how about sending a wedding invitation via Facebook? Psychologist Peter Collett reveals the results of the e-etiquette poll and shares his insight on modern-day manners.

As our lives become ever more digitised and we increasingly spend time using technology, nearly half of us (48%) believe the rule book for manners has been rewritten, and that there is a new e-etiquette when it comes to social interaction.

The research, released today by Pitney Bowes, reveals what is and what isn’t acceptable in the modern age, and that there are still certain things that should always be handled in person rather than digitally, including ending a relationship; announcing a lifetime event (eg, a birth); arranging a wedding; or organising a work social.

Likewise, when it comes to arranging a family get-together, more than twice as many of us would do it face-to-face as we would using email.

There are, however, certain situations when using digital tech is deemed the most appropriate method of communicating, for example when arranging a night out with friends.

Interestingly, when it comes to expressing certain emotions, traditional postal cards are still preferred over technological tokens of affection such as e-cards.

Across the board, physical cards/notes were the preferred method of communication for occasions such as birthdays, Mother’s Day, anniversaries, condolences, and saying “thank you”.

Even as technological communications become more advanced, the popularity of the old-fashioned card is set to continue, with seven in 10 (70%) people intending to keep using them.

The research also highlighted a blacklist of digital behaviours that the majority consider to be rude.

The worst being:

  • Being disturbed by someone talking on a phone in a public area (71% of us feel this is rude, up from 13% in 2013);
  • Checking emails in a meeting (69%, up from 49% in 2013);
  • Checking texts during a business lunch (63%, up from 45% in 2013);
  • Sending emails while on a conference call (60%).

Despite our annoyance, most of us admit to behaving in ways that we find rude; with 62% admitting that they text while walking in a public place; 53% using capitals in texts/emails just to make a point; and 48% talking on a phone in a public place.

Other ‘golden rules’ are:

  • Don’t ‘over share’ on Facebook;
  • Don’t chat someone up on LinkedIn or any other professional platform;
  • Don’t post to social media when emotional;
  • Be careful when hitting “reply all” to a group message — especially if you’re gossiping about someone
  • Never send a text or message in anger.


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