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Stop Staring at Your Mobile Phone and Get More from Life After 60

By Penelope Jane Whiteley August 31, 2023 Lifestyle

We’ve all seen the jokes about social media and mobile phones. For so many people these days, it seems an impossible task to put their phones in their pocket or purse.

Have you ever wondered how on earth we managed to get through our lives without them? We had no Facebook, no Twitter (now X), no Instagram, no nothing!

I am writing this because I suddenly seem to be bombarded with messages and articles about Social Media Etiquette. They purportedly apply to mobile phones because I posted a quote on my Aging Disgracefully Facebook page which really touched a nerve. It said…

I’m having people over to stare at their phones later if you want to come by.

Which brings me to the point of this blog. It may be redundant, because I’m almost positive that most women in our age group can in fact get through a coffee, walk down the road, or have dinner with family or friends without looking at their phone! So, perhaps you can share this article on Social Media Etiquette with your younger family or friends.

This is my personal “old fashioned” take on social media etiquette. Specifically, how to stop constantly looking at your mobile phone.

Do Not Use Your Phone When in Motion

In other words, sit down to send a text. Sit down to make or receive a call. Do not under any circumstances, use your phone walking down the street!

In China, Bangkok, and Washington DC, there are now dedicated phone lanes. Just like dedicated bike lanes, there are even arrows to show the direction of travel. In Italy, phone lanes should be de riguer. I’m amazed there aren’t more collisions between phone users.

Do Not Use Your Phone While Having Breakfast, Tea, Lunch, or Dinner

When you are in a social mode with friends, family or even business colleagues, do not keep checking your phone. It’s so rude to be more interested in your phone than the person or people you’re with. This has happened to me on so many occasions. Which brings me to my personal style.

Remember, this is totally subjective, and I’m sure most of you wouldn’t do this. But if whoever I am with uses their phone more than twice while we are eating, I just leave!

This is one of those things that seriously annoy me. I could rabbit on for another couple of pages, but I shall spare you the pain. It just comes down to how you feel about friends, colleagues, and family. I’m not sure how it applies to phones, but I think that it may!

Put Your Phone Away When You Are Having a Drink with Your Girlfriends

Unless somebody you love is seriously ill in hospital, there is absolutely nothing that is so important you cannot put your phone in your bag or in a pocket. And leave it there! Remember, we’re the generation who survived for years and years and years without mobile phones.

I was with some people the other day, quietly drinking coffee and having a discussion about my travel for solo women over 50 program.

The women I was with (all over 50 I might add!), had their phones glued to their hands. Trying to cope with the Italian language and compete with the very loud conversations they were having on their phones had me to a screaming point!

When you are out with people, all mobile phones should be placed, face down, in a pile in the centre of the table. The first person to retrieve their phone during the course of the lunch, dinner, coffee, whatever, pays the bill for everybody. That works!!!

Do Not Use Your Phone While Driving… Please!

In Australia, I was once stopped by the police for having my mobile phone on my lap. I received a $460 fine. I wasn’t using it to make a call or send a text, and I was in a traffic jam that was going nowhere. Upset doesn’t begin to cover the way I felt.

On the other hand, in Italy, I was on a bus when the bus driver took a call on his phone. He had one hand clutching the phone while the other was wildly gesticulating (Italians talk with their hands). All the time he was navigating the narrow, winding roads into Florence.

I lost count of the number of cars we missed, but we did miss them. Mobiles are part of the driving ethos here. I even saw a policeman, driving leisurely down the road, using one.

But, you will know not to drive while using your phone because you all have a brain in your head. It’s very, very dangerous. The worrying factor is the number of young people who slide into this pattern of doing things that are frankly dumb because nobody stops them. In one way, I am grateful that the police in Australia are so keen on stopping the use of mobile phones in cars.

Reply to Text Messages

Just not when you’re with others! And please, sit down to do it. Be sure you are not blocking the flow of traffic.

Do Not Go Through the Phones of Others

I suppose it’s acceptable to go through a child’s phone, as a matter of safety. But a partner’s or a friend’s phone? I think not. It’s akin to opening somebody else’s mail and at our age, we know that’s unacceptable. Unless it’s a bill that they will pay for us. This is like speaking ill of the dead and the rule of thumb is… don’t.

Do Not Use Your Phone in a Cinema or Theatre

To see the light glowing from a phone in your line of sight to the screen is so incredibly irritating. So much so, I believe phones should be taken off people before they enter. And yes, this applies to people our age. The last time I was at the theatre, there was an elderly couple in front of me who were sharing text messages on their phone and chatting. It was disturbing everyone in the vicinity and after 5 mins I asked them to please turn it off. They looked at me as though I were mad and were very rude. I went and found an usher. Honestly, what is wrong with people?!

Switch your phone off. It’s OK, it will still work when you switch back on again.

Just in case you’re feeling insulted that I have written this blog for people of our age. Please remember, being over 60 doesn’t entitle any of us to ignore the rules of common sense and acceptable social behaviour. I would love to hear if these things that drive me nuts, have the same effect on you!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

When did you get your first mobile phone? Mine was the size of a house brick. Do you find yourself doing any of the things mentioned in this article? Do you sleep with your mobile phone on your bedside table?

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I totally agree. We should speak much more about this in public, newspapers and on social media. Thank you.

Claudia McCullough

I totally agree with your article! It seems that common sense and good manners have gone out the window. We need to be more mindful of what we are doing, especially with our children. We sat near a family in a favorite restaurant who were all glued to their phones during their meal. And parents who are on their phones while pushing strollers ignoring their little ones. Technology has changed our world but not all for the good.


I agree with you 100%. I’ve had a cell phone for around 30 years. I was in outside sales and had a pager and then a cell phone. Was very large! I was very cognizant of etiquette and always put my customers attention first. Turned it off in meetings and meals In restaurants. As time went on and more and more people had them, the etiquette rules pretty much went out the window. I find it shameful and insulting when my friends, clients, strangers refuse to acknowledge the basic rules. I have no patience for people who can’t spend 10 minutes without being glued to their phone in any situation. I’ve stepped way back from social media, and I also leave any situation where the phone takes precedence over the person you are with.
I wish there were a solution, but I’m not very optimistic about the human condition regarding this.

thank you for posting this!


The Author

Penelope Jane Whiteley is the self-appointed Queen of Aging Disgracefully. A writer, international speaker, clothes designer, stylist and traveller, she helps other women to live their lives on their own terms. Her courses include “Lose 10 pounds in 10 minutes,” “The Reboot,” “Just Write the Damn Book.” Find her on, Twitter, and Facebook.

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