A recent New York Times piece suggests that the biggest problems with the use of electronics on airplanes are the rules preventing them and the subsequent reactions to people violating those rules. The piece focuses on numerous instances in which people using electronics on airplanes were arrested and or subdued. In one case, six police cars raced across a tarmac to arrest a guy who wouldn't turn his phone off. In another, a 68-year-old man punched a teenager in the face because the kid wouldn't stop using his phone. Then there was the whole Alec Baldwin debacle.
In his piece, the Times' Nick Bilton lays at least some of the blame at the feet of the Federal Aviation Administration.
"Who is to blame in these episodes? You can't solely pin it on the passengers. Some of the responsibility falls on the Federal Aviation Administration, for continuing to uphold a rule that is based on the unproven idea that a phone or tablet can interfere with the operation of a plane."
Bilton suggests that the real danger in using the devices comes in the overreaction from passengers who believe they're helping to protect the plane and the people on it.
"Instead, it will be because one passenger harms another, believing they are protecting the plane from a Kindle, which produces fewer electromagnetic emissions than a calculator."