With great power comes great responsibility, and our smartphones have a lot of power! These days we rely on our phones for communication, transportation, payment, and so much more. It’s hard for many of us to imagine life without a phone in hand.
What should you do (and NOT do) to be a responsible, secure, polite, smartphone operator?
1. DON’T allow your phone to distract you from your surroundingsYou know how easy it is to get sucked into a feed on your phone. Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, or something else, there’s an infinite amount of content that you could be looking at. It’s always tempting to scroll one more time for one more post!
When you’re with co-workers, friends, family, or in any social situation, it’s impolite to stare at your phone for an extended amount of time. Even taking an innocent peek at a text or alert can suck you into mindlessly staring at your screen. So next time you feel yourself starting to zone out from your surroundings, lock your phone’s screen and put it back in your pocket!
Remember to put your conversation on pause when checking out at a store or speaking to anyone in the service industry. Whenever it’s your turn to ring up your items or place your order, either end your conversation and put your phone away or excuse yourself from the person on the other line.
2. DO silence your phone when the situation calls for itIf you’ve ever felt the embarrassment of your ringer going off during a quiet pause in a packed-full movie theater, you are already aware of how important it is to check that your phone is on silent or turned off while watching a movie or live performance.
Go the extra step by putting your phone in your pocket or purse. Even the light from the screen will distract those around you from the film or performance everyone is trying to take in. You don’t want to be the person who ruins someone’s viewing pleasure. So, again, check, and double check, that your phone is not going to interrupt the show!
There are many other situations where it is inconsiderate to have your phone buzz loudly. Think about turning your phone on vibrate when in waiting rooms, restaurants, coffee shops, rideshare vehicle, or libraries.
3. DON’T increase your volume while out in publicHave you ever rolled your eyes, or maybe scoffed, at someone on the subway who’s loudly and incessantly gabbing on their phone? As annoying as it is to listen to, it’s surprisingly easy for each of us to do the same thing. We all talk on our phones and we all, at some point, can get so involved in our conversations that the volume levels quickly escalate, but nobody likes a smartphone loudmouth.
When you’re out in public, around your friends or strangers, it’s important to be aware of how loudly you are talking so as not to disturb those around you. What’s even more critical is that your conversations don’t increase enough in volume to run the risk of spilling confidential information about you or anyone else. Lastly, do NOT use your speakerphone in public. Yes, that would make all the eavesdroppers happy, but to most people it’s just annoying.
4. DO look out for shoulder surfers and eavesdroppersEavesdroppers thrive on listening in on calls, they can gather all sorts of information from just your side of your conversation. Be on the lookout for anyone who seems overly interested and keep your voice down, especially if what you’re talking about might be considered sensitive information.
Shoulder surfers may also try to spy on a screen that’s easy to see. If there’s a chance someone might be peeking at your texts or apps, keep your phone close. You’ll want to be extra aware of any seats behind you, and who may be sitting there – they might try to take a peek (or more likely a picture) of your screen to gather as much of your private information as possible.
5. DON’T put your phone at risk of being lost or stolen“Phone, wallet, keys.” Lots of us repeat this mantra everytime we leave our home to be sure we have everything we need while out in the world. We all know how frustrating and stressful it can be to lose one of these critical items.
Losing your phone can have bigger ramifications because so much of our data, that of family, friends, and acquaintances can also be found on it. Many of us have bank accounts, health insurance information, schedules, and more linked to our smartphones for convenience. But if it’s convenient to you, that means it’s also convenient for anyone else who might be able to guess your four-digit pin number!
Keep a close eye on your phone, turn on a find-my-phone app, and have a plan in place in case something happens to it. If the worst happens and your phone seems gone forever, start changing passwords for any apps that may contain data and start setting up remote wipe ahead of time can allow you to erase your data before someone else can access it.
6. DO use a VPN when connecting to unknown wireless networksThat’s right, VPNs (virtual private networks) aren’t just for your desktop! Look at your smartphone as just a mini computer. It’s even more important to have a VPN for your phone since it’s the device that travels with you from wifi to wifi.
Whether you’re connecting to a foreign wireless connection at a friends house, a coffee shop, airport, or anywhere, be sure your VPN is enabled.