There aren’t many places these days where people aren’t allowed to use their phones (maybe church is an exception). But the use of mobile phones has just become a part of everyday life.
Waiting to walk across the road at the traffic lights? Why not check your phone.
Standing in line at the bank? Why not check your phone.
Waiting for the train to arrive? Once again, this seems like a pretty appropriate time to check your phone.
So this is exactly what I did when waiting at the doctors surgery last week. I sat down in the waiting area, glanced over at the pile of ridiculously outdated magazines placed on the table next to me, then proceeded to unlock my phone and scroll through Facebook. It wasn’t until a lady walking past caught my attention that I looked up and saw the sign pinned to the wall behind her. “Please refrain from using mobile devices in this area”. The picture of a mobile phone with a red cross through it right in front of my face. This form of media regulation started to worry me.
I immediately felt self-conscious and looked around me at the other people in the waiting room. A mum trying to settle her two young children. An elderly man watching the news on the waiting room TV. Another woman in her mid 30’s, reading an article on balcony gardening. No one else was on their phones. Was I just one of those stereotypical ‘young people’, constantly glued to my phone and ignoring the rules?
As I placed my phone back into my handbag and grabbed a magazine from 2004, I started to think why the use of phones would be banned in a doctors waiting room. I can understand how someone talking on the phone would be quite irritating, but why should I be banned from checking my Instagram whilst waiting for an appointment?
A frantic google search when I got home answered a few of my concerns:
- Current phones cause very little interference with medical equipment. Modern medical equipment is shielded so that phone interference does not affect the machines (Hammond 2013). Considering there is very little equipment of such in a doctor’s surgery, this is evidently not reason as to why phone use is banned.
- Taking photographs in a doctor’s surgery is a big no-no. According to the Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) Cellular Telephone and Other Wireless Communication Device Use Policy, taking photographs of of patients for non-clinical purposes is strictly prohibited (UNC School of Medicine 2016).
- Phone calls are another no-no in waiting rooms. Not only is it extremely annoying when someone decides to have a personal conversation at the top of their voice in a quiet space, but if the doctor is on a strict time schedule. If they have to wait for a patient just to finish their conversation about what casserole to have for dinner, it puts all of their appointments behind for the rest of the day.
My research still didn’t answer the question I had about not being able to play angry birds in the waiting room. Until I stumbled across an article on The Huffington Post site. According to Lisa Mirza Grotts (2014), phone use in the doctors surgery all comes down to etiquette. Mobile phone use is not necessarily restricted in waiting rooms, but not being halfway through updating your Facebook status when the doctor is calling your name is just common courtesy.
This type of media regulation purely exists to speed up the process of doctor-patient interactions and to reduce waiting times. Not because the world thinks young people are addicted to social media (not a proven fact, may still be true). But let’s face it, I probably can survive if I don’t check my phone for 20 minutes whilst waiting for a doctor to diagnose my sickness.
Until next time,
Grotts, L. M. 2014, Doctor’s Office Etiquette: While You Wait, The Huffington Post, viewed 23 September 2016, <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-mirza-grotts/doctors-office-etiquette_b_5102426.html>.
Hammond, C 2013, Are Mobile Phones Dangerous in Hospitals?, BBC, viewed 23 September 2016, <http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130513-can-you-use-phones-in-hospitals>.
UNC School of Medicine 2016, October Information Security and Privacy Tip of the Month, University of North Carolina, viewed 23 September 2016, <https://www.med.unc.edu/>.