Dear Heidi: Is it ever okay to have your cell phone out when dining?
Generally speaking, no, cell phones should not be out on a dining table when dining. If you are attending a formal dinner, your cell phone should be silenced and put away.
Of course, there are exceptions! If you are waiting for an emergency call; perhaps a baby is due, or a loved one is in the hospital, then having your cell phone out is acceptable. No need to over explain; quietly let others know you might have to take an important call.
In the case of dining with friends, having your cell phone out seems to be the norm. After sharing what’s on your phone, try to put it away as a sign of respect for your friends, and enjoy the conversation and the meal.
If you are dining alone at a restaurant, you might like to catch up on your emails while you wait for your food to be served. It’s okay in a casual place to have your phone out to read, but once the food arrives, store your phone. If you are in a formal restaurant, keep your phone stored. Do not be so absorbed in your phone that you appear rude to the wait staff.
Be respectful with your cell phone use in public.