Proper Cell Phone Etiquette During Meals

Phone call during dinner

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If you're like most people, you have your cell phone with you at all times. It's become an essential accessory that you probably feel lost without.

However, there are certain situations when you should turn off your phone or put it on silent. Use these tips for proper cell phone etiquette at the dinner table.

Etiquette at the Table

Most people don't want to be without their phones. Others need their phone because their employer calls at odd times. Or perhaps you're concerned about your children who are with a babysitter.

Remember that there is a time and a place for cell phone conversations. The dinner table isn't the place for your cell phone. If you are dining, whether it's at home, at a friend's home, or at a restaurant, you should definitely silence your cell phone.

Answering and holding a conversation during dinner or at the dining table is considered rude behavior. The message you send by talking on the phone or texting during dinner is that this conversation or person calling is more important to you than those with whom you are dining. Take a little time off and just relax and enjoy dining with family and/or friends without interruptions.

Acceptable Phone Use

There may be certain times that it's acceptable to have your cell phone on at the table, but you need to always put your companions first. If you are eating alone and at home, enjoy your phone as much as you want to as long as you don't sound gross to the person you're chatting with. Don't smack or make slurping sounds.

If you are alone in a restaurant, don't talk on your phone. It's rude to those around you. If you are out without your children, feel free to look at your phone for any calls or texts from a babysitter. If a babysitter does call, answer the phone, but excuse yourself from the table to take the call.

Talking on the Phone

When you talk on your cell phone in front of others, they only hear one side of the conversation and this can come across as rude as whispering. It creates discomfort and confusion in the people who are physically in your presence. If you must answer it, let the person know you are busy and you'll call them back.

However, if it's an emergency call, get up and leave the room. When you return to the dining table, apologize for leaving, and if necessary, offer a brief explanation of the call.

Group Calls

During your dinner conversation, you and your dining partners may decide you'd like to chat with someone who isn't there. Only place the call if you all agree to it. It is bad form to hold a group chat while everyone is eating, so it's best to wait until you are finished with the meal.

Remember that it isn't polite to talk with your mouths full. You also don't want to disrupt others if you are at a restaurant. And never expect your server to wait while you finish your phone conversation.

Texting Etiquette

It's also rude to text on your cell phone at the dinner table. You're still engaging in a conversation with someone who isn't there while ignoring those who are dining with you. If you're in the middle of a text conversation, let the person know you'll resume your "conversation" later and give your attention to your fellow diners.


Some people enjoy having their pictures taken with people they eat with. If everyone at the table agrees, take a few pictures with your cell phone, but don't have a long photo session during dinner. Do it before the food arrives or after everyone is finished. Your server may offer to snap a photo, but don't get upset if he or she is too busy to stop working to take your picture.

Posting on Social Media

Let's say you're eating at a really cool restaurant, and you want all of your followers and "friends" to know you're there. Proper etiquette is to do it only after you place your order, but before your food arrives. In other words, most of the time it's bad form to post on social media from the dining table.

Politeness at All Times

Being polite is the best policy at all times, and mealtime is no exception. Don't ever forget to use proper table manners, and that includes being present with the people you are physically with.

Edited by Debby Mayne