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How to avoid being rude when using your iPad

By Anna Post, Special to CNN
Don't break your iPad out in public unless you're ready to share, says etiquette expert Anna Post.
Don't break your iPad out in public unless you're ready to share, says etiquette expert Anna Post.
  • When taking out your iPad, be prepared for jealous looks, curious stares and questions
  • Free recipes make the iPad handy in the kitchen, but greasy fingerprints aren't nice
  • Have kids? Set the rules for use first thing: Tell them it's only for your work

Editor's note: Anna Post is an etiquette expert and the author of several books, including "Do I Have to Wear White? Emily Post Answers America's Top Wedding Questions." She is a spokesperson for the Emily Post Institute and Emily Post's great-great-granddaughter.

(CNN) -- The iPad from Apple is the latest member of a new, multi-use generation of technology. It's a book, it's e-mail, it's your social network or your office, it's your music and your photos plus the apps for all of that.

And the more ways we can use a device, the more we'll want to take a look at how using it affects those around us.

In a nutshell, that's how "old" etiquette is applied to new technology.

If you have an iPad, here are a few places you might find yourself:

First, be prepared for jealous looks, curious stares and questions from strangers. Don't break it out in public unless you're ready to play show and tell, and possibly share. "Can I see it? Can I touch it? Can I try it?" Know your answer, because like a proud momma with a new infant, all the old ladies will want to hold your baby.

Have kids? Set the rules for use first thing. Tell them it's only for mommy's or daddy's work, or else be prepared to lose your latest spreadsheet when you walk in the door.

Back at the office, think about your work culture. Will the iPad be a handy tool, Mr. Early Adopter, or overkill? Be explicit with colleagues about what you're using it for, such as taking notes or checking a calendar, so they don't think you're playing online Scrabble during your morning meeting.

The reading feature is a huge component of iPad use, so feel free to pull it out during your morning commute. The upside: No more awkwardly folding your newspaper into a postage stamp. The downside? People are bound to read over your shoulder; until iPads are ubiquitous, curiosity will draw wandering eyes.

When you're with your family, equate iPad reading to the same choices you make with your books and magazines. For example, if your family is watching "So You Think You Can Dance" but it isn't your thing, and you'd be reading a magazine during the show regardless, fire up the iPad. Just consider dimming it if the room is dark.

But if the idea is to spend quality time interacting with your family, put it away. Even if you think you're paying attention, you won't look like it -- and that's all that's going to matter to your spouse.

Without question, turn it off at the dinner table. Reading in bed is another time to think about dimming the iPad. Again, how will it affect others? If their light is out, it's time to dim.

What about reading in the car? It's sad to have to spell this out, but never use it if you're the driver! Causing an accident is the ultimate rudeness, to say the least.

You know what else is rude? Getting carsick. No matter how excited you are to read the latest updates on Twitter, the laws of physics still apply. Have an iron stomach? While catching up on "CSI" may be a good idea, using headphones might be a better one if you'll spoil it for the driver who can't watch.

The internet abounds with free recipes, making the iPad handy in the kitchen. Greasy fingerprints on your new gadget aren't so nice, however. If you share your iPad with someone else, wipe it down after kitchen use.

As for the bathroom, this debate may continue to rage as it does now for magazines. But since the iPad's resting place in your home isn't likely to be the back of the toilet, this is the one time treating it like a magazine isn't such a hot idea.

The iPhone has already created a debate with its access to answers anywhere, anytime. Need to know the capital of Bolivia to win an argument at the dinner table? Pulling out your iPad may win you the debate, but trumping others this way may come off a bit know-it-all.

Then again, it could be a huge success. The point of etiquette? Know your audience, and think before you trump.

Technology and etiquette have a fascinating intersection. Etiquette lets people know how to act in common -- and sometimes uncommon -- situations, and how to expect others to react.

But the pace of technology is blazingly fast and creates new situations daily. So we have to apply a basic tenet of etiquette -- be considerate of those around us -- to constantly adapt to how we, as a society, want to use technology.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Anna Post.