Why our phones are leading to bad behaviour

James Hall

The rise of the smartphone has led to an increase in what has long been considered a social faux pas of the highest order, using a phone during a film or a play. And adults are now almost as guilty of it as teenagers.

A report shows that one in four teenagers and almost one in five adults admitted using their smartphone during a performance.

Ofcom, the UK communications watchdog, conducted research into how mobile technology was changing habits. People with ordinary mobile phones were far less likely to keep them turned on during a play or film, Ofcom found.

It said the propensity for people to use their phones to surf the internet or post messages on Twitter raised issues of "etiquette and modern manners".

The watchdog found that 27pc of teenagers used their smartphones -- multifunctional devices allowing access to the internet -- in venues where they have been asked to turn them off.

Almost 20pc of adults also said that they were likely to use their smartphones secretly in supposedly quiet venues.


James Thickett, the director of research for Ofcom, said the high level of smartphone use in venues such as theatres "raises an issue about social etiquette and modern manners and the degree to which we as a society are tolerant of this behaviour".

Last month actor Simon Callow said it takes an hour to recover after a phone goes off in a theatre.

Mr Thickett said: "I think what we have found before is that teenagers have always been more likely to use mobile phones in cinemas and theatres. What we are finding now is that for smartphone users, it is much, much higher, but adult smartphone users as well.

"So it is not just about adults and teenagers having different values, it is about technology driving the values towards the way you behave in social situations," he said.

The report found that one in four adults and almost half of all teenagers -- defined as 12 to 15 year-olds -- own a smartphone.

Mr Thickett said smartphones have also altered the work-life balance, with one in four users saying that they would take work-related phone calls while on holiday, compared with just 16pc of regular mobile phone users.