Regulation: The Do’s and Don’ts of media use


We encounter regulation signs everywhere we go. Signs all over the roads telling us what speed to drive, signs on streets and in car parks telling us we can only park here for one hour in the middle of the day, signs in restaurants and bars telling us not to smoke in the area.

Admittedly there are many of signs that we don’t pay a lot of attention to. Obviously road signs are of more importance to us than others, including signs about the use of media in public spaces. The other day I was sitting in a doctor’s waiting room on my phone only to look up and see a ‘No mobile phone use’ sign on the wall opposite me. Looking around the waiting room, there were only one or two people who weren’t on their phones.

Why don’t we pay attention to these signs about phone usage when we’re out in public and abide by regulations? I believe that society pays attention to signs when we know the consequences of not abiding by the rules and are aware of the dangers or threats in certain environments. It is well-known that radio signals from phones can be detrimental at petrol stations and spark flames, therefore there is limited, if any, phone use from customers. Phone use is also not allowed on planes, in cinemas and in hospitals where the signals may interrupt the functioning of medical technology, such as pacemakers. In a doctors waiting room, however, there is unclear reason as to why people can’t use their phones.

In situations where the reason not to use your phone is unclear, it is more of an issue of appropriateness than anything else. Mobile phone etiquette is something that parents will now have to teach their children, being so prevalent, and there are certain environments or times when it is not polite to be on your phone, however this is not conclusively stated. For example,  it’s polite to keep your phone in your purse or pocket during a wedding reception. however it is not completely banned.

Regulations around technology are necessary due to the sheer prevalence of technology in our lives. The majority of signs are negative, telling us what not to do. With signs telling us not to use technology in certain environments without proper enforcement but merely as a prompt it suggests that we are still trying to separate technology and media in some aspects of our lives and preventing it from seeping into everything that we interact with.

The artistic world is one where mobile phone use is frowned upon or simply not allowed. Art galleries discourage the use of phones and don’t allow pictures to be taken for copyright reasons. If attending a talk from someone the same rules in cinemas apply. Interestingly, there is a growing number of musical artists who are addressing mobile phone use at live concerts and performances.

It is commonplace to see the moshpit filled with cellphones raised high up in the air to record the experience. People have now even started bringing iPads, thus these devices are creating a blockage of technology between the audience and the performers. People hold varying views about this increase of technology at concerts. It’ is normal to wish to document an amazing experience or share it with friends, however if you’ve paid that much for a live concert you should soak up the experience and for once enjoy music without the presence of technology.

One of a few celebrities beginning to place locks on phones at concerts, Alicia Keys provided special pouches for her audience to each lock their phone whilst attending her performance.

Matt Corby also made a point against the use of technology when attending a live concert during an interview:

In this case, the artists definitely have a point. Our iPhones should not be preventing connection between audiences and an experience. In a technology obsessed culture, rules and regulations surrounding technology are justified in assisting us to live in the moment and experience something ourselves rather than through a screen.


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