London - For anyone who has had to wait for service while a shop assistant finished surfing the net on a smartphone, it will not come as a shock.

The latest handsets and other mobile devices may be helping a new generation to stay safer and better connected... but it’s making them ruder.

About three in four people now believe manners have been wrecked by phones, laptops, tablets and social media such as Facebook and Twitter, according to a poll by the modern etiquette guide Debrett’s.

About 77 percent think social skills are worse than 20 years ago, while 72 percent think mobiles have encouraged rudeness.

Nearly two thirds thought the internet had ruined face-to-face conduct with friends or colleagues.

The report cited “a rift between virtual and real world personalities”, saying just 15 percent of people felt confident walking into a room of strangers, and 25 percent felt uncomfortable meeting a new colleague face-to-face.

But 62 percent of the 1 000 people who took part in the poll would have no trouble creating a profile on a social networking site. Bosses now increasingly fear the number of young employees who are addicted to mobile gadgets – with some so “over-reliant” on computers and spellchecks they no longer know how to write a letter, one told Debrett’s.

Of a separate study of 58 executives, many claimed “constant” mobile and social media use was a major problem and a majority felt the written skills of young staff was “appalling”. - Daily Mail