Ethics of mobile phone and portable radio use

Issues associated with the ethics of mobile phone and portable radio use in the bush (and nearly everywhere else, it seems) tend to crop up with increasing frequency. The main issues usually stem from the motivation of many outdoors enthusiasts to ‘get away from it all’, and the fact that insensitive use of mobile phones can interfere with the sense of isolation they seek. This, of course, relates to using the phone, not carrying it!

Many school groups require the leader to carry a mobile phone or other functioning communication equipment, and often ban them from the packs of students. This is probably sensible from a weight basis as well as behaviour control concerns. With groups of adults, it can be difficult to prevent inappropriate phone use, but asking the offender privately to use the mobile phone away from the rest of the group will often work wonders. Many leaders who carry phones routinely (or on particular trips) do so discreetly, often only telling one other experienced group member of its presence, and limiting the use to emergency situations only.