Cell phones allow us to connect the world over with literally anyone. But that piece of technology has also become the bane of our existence. It distracts us, diminishes our cognitive ability, and takes away our ability to interact with others. Case in point: When we go to a social gathering but don’t really know anyone, or just want to occupy ourselves, we're more than likely to skip conversation and whip out our cell phone.

In a recent Pew Research Center study, 35 percent of younger Americans use their phone for no reason whatsoever, while 13 percent of them stated they brought it out to avoid interacting with those around them. Cell phone etiquette is a thing, apparently, and all ages have varying degrees of responses on how we should handle cell phone use in certain situations:

  • 88 percent of Americans believe that it’s inappropriate to use a cell phone at the dinner table
  • 77 percent think that it’s OK to use your phone while walking down the street
  • 75 percent believe it’s fine to use on public transit
  • 5 percent said it’s OK to use a phone during a meeting or in a movie theater

As for how cell phones impacted social interactions, people didn’t seem to mind using them, as 82 percent of people used their phone, even when they believed it interrupted or hurt the conversations. People admitted to making a call, texting, checking email, using an app, or browsing the web during a social interaction.

However, before you lose hope that humanity is giving itself over to a new cell phone overlord, many younger Americans use their cell phones for good, as in they contributed to their group interactions with them. These pro-social behaviors included picture-taking, posting something to Facebook or Twitter, picking up relevant-to-group-discussion information, or connecting with people outside of the group but who are known to the group.

The older generations are less likely to use their phones to meet up with friends, according to the study, as they would have already set a time and place to meet. The information suggests that the younger generation is much more flexible as to when and where they’ll meet friends, and where and how they’ll communicate with them to meet up.

And although it might seem like explicit anti-social phone behavior (using a phone to ignore those around you) is rampant in public areas, that isn’t really the case. Only 23 percent of cell phone owners stated they used their cell phones in a public place anti-socially.

So though it might seem like everyone is glued to their cell phones these days, there is hope that there are etiquette guidelines that most people follow, and when they do use their phone, they're using it more pro-socially than anti-socially.