Smartphone etiquette and the rest room

Oh dear, it had to get to this point sooner or later. What is the proper etiquette of using smartphones in the bathroom?

The Boston Globe’s The E Word blog tackles the delicate subject today:


Now the last time this situation arose, he finished before me. I was curious: Would he flush? It turns out he had a modicum of concern for the impact on the person he was speaking with. He kind of stepped back, about as far as his arm would let him, and then he yanked the handle, quickly stepped away and was gone. And, of course, that raised the issue of does he put the phone down to wash his hands, or does he, ugh, skip that sanitary step? I think to myself, “I hope I don’t have to shake his hand.”

And then there’s a third issue about phones and public places like public restrooms. Not that it’s happened to me, not that I really think it will. But smartphones have cameras and frankly, I don’t want to be the subject of surreptitious photos.

So many disgusting scenarios. So little time to contemplate the possibility we’re doomed as a society.

“.. a dressing room is not a public place. Nor is a urinal. Thoughtful people, in private places such as these, shut the door — not just of the stall, but also of their smart phones,” the Toronto Star’s ethics columnist wrote this week.

It’s an issue that isn’t going to go away. A survey in January found that 75 percent of those surveyed use their smartphone in the bathroom, although not necessarily for talking on the phone.

  • Tyler

    The most entertaining event that happened at work in quite a while – a 75-person webinar was taken off of mute and the first thing we heard was the flush of a toilet.

    Personally, I have nothing but contempt for people that talk on the phone in the bathroom. Web browsing or games – that’s your business, but talking? Ugh.

  • Joe

    Speaking of washing one’s hands.

  • Kim E

    I am disgusted by people who talk on their phones while using the toilet. I would also hate to be the person on the other end of the phone. I would be thinking, this conversation couldn’t wait 5 minutes?

  • Suzanne

    When I see or hear a person talking on a cellphone in a public restroom, I immediately flush a toilet.

  • Caitlin

    You mean people still use phones to talk to each other? How antiquated!