For anyone who has had to wait for service while a shop assistant finished surfing the net on a smartphone, it will not come as a shock.

The latest handsets and other mobile devices may be helping a new generation to stay safer and better connected… but it’s making them ruder.

About three in four people now believe manners have been wrecked by phones, laptops, tablets and social media such as Facebook and Twitter, according to a poll by the modern etiquette guide Debrett’s.

Some 77 per cent think social skills are worse than 20 years ago, while 72 per cent think mobiles have encouraged rudeness. A report warned that company executives are now watching to check if their young employees are becoming over-dependent on their smartphones and screens in the office.

businessman is working on tablet and using smart phone in office

Some are ‘so over-reliant on computers and spellchecks that they don’t even know how to write a letter any more,’ one told Debrett’s.

The worry over the impact of mobile-dependency on the generation who have grown up with smartphones is the latest development in the spread of digital bad manners.

It follows years of growing parental frustration over teenagers who text at the table, anger among cinema audiences about phone conversations during the film, and occasional outbursts from actors provoked by ringtones from the stalls.

Four teenagers sitting in a movie theater

‘However the pitfalls of over-reliance on technology are being revealed.’ A survey carried out by One Poll among 1,000 people found that 77 per cent think social skills now are worse than they were 20 years ago, and 72 per cent think mobiles have encouraged rudeness.

Nearly two thirds, 65 per cent, thought the importance of online relationships to many young people has had a negative effect on the way they conduct themselves when face-to-face with friends or colleagues.

The etiquette consultancy also conducted a study among a group of 58 senior executives which found that well over half looked for social skills rather than academic achievement in candidates for promotion.

They believed that a major problem among young employees was ‘constant use of mobile phones and social media in the office.’ A majority felt the written skills of young employees were ‘appalling’.

The report cited ‘a rift between virtual and real world personalities’, saying that 15 per cent of the people in its poll would feel confident walking into a room where they didn’t know anybody, while 62 per cent would be confident about creating a profile on a social networking site.

One in four are uncomfortable about meeting a new colleague face-to-face, and nearly half say they are nervous when they have to stand up in a meeting and give a formal presentation.

Louise Ruell, who runs business training for under-30s for Debretts, said: ‘Developing and maintaining a high level of skills across social and professional spheres is crucial to ensure success in both the workplace and everyday life.’

The organisation has published an etiquette guide for smartphone users in an attempt to steer people away from the most catastrophic failures of mobile manners.

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