Several factors impact the constant use of mobile phones.
2-in certain cultures, one must always be available for customers (e.g., Japan, China, India, Israel)
3-in certain cultures, you need to constantly available for family (e.g., Israel)
4-business happens on-line and people are expected to be highly responsive.
5-technology is addictive.
Both during personal consulting sessions and in group sessions, I had allowed people to keep their phones on silent. And more and more, people started taking calls, or answering sms (text) messages or calling an admin to give instructions based on a text message/sms which had been received.
Subsequently , I started asking people to turn off their phones; in groups I would put the phones in a paper bag, and inevitably we would all be hearing ringtones or buzzing.
As of late, I no longer allow cell phones in a group session. I gather the cell phones and insist they are left outside the room and they are in OFF mode. If people refuse, I tell them they need to choose: session or phone. I am no longer a cultural relativist on this issue. I demand that there is no cell phone usage in group sessions I facilitate.
In personal consultations I am more lenient, but I tell the people I work with that use of the phones really annoys me.
I do not accept the fact that I am intransigent or old fashioned. I think it is the right thing to do. Often I use the fierce resistance to my 0 tolerance for cell phones as material to work on during the sessions, especially in companies in which people are very busy texting/emailing yet nothing happens. The Israelis call this hyperactive organizational impotence as“full gas in neutral”.
I have been fired twice for the “no mobile phone policy”, and as Edith Piaf sang, moi je ne regrette rien..