"As the devices keep coming out, new iterations of them, tablets and such, the House has had to re-examine its rules," the source said. "We used to be really rigid about prohibiting all equipment."
Using cellphones from the House floor has become commonplace. When sitting on the House floor, members are seen regularly checking their phones and even leaving the floor to take a call.
Some, like Republican Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, have even broken the rules and tweeted photos from the floor.
"Speaker Pelosi hands over the gavel to Speaker Boehner: hurrah!!!" she wrote.
Since the change in 2010, the use of cellphones on the floor has become a matter of decorum -- or decency. If using the phone is disruptive in anyway -- like taking picture of video -- the practice is not allowed. "If you can use them in an unobtrusive way, then it is OK," said the source.
But just because something is unobtrusive, doesn't mean it should be allowed, says Amy Alkon, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of "I See Rude People."
"It is really rude," Alkon said emphatically. "Even if someone is outright boring, if your job is to pay attention to them, it is rude to be engaged in your phone or your other device."
Alkon said she understands that everyone else is doing it, but that doesn't make it acceptable.
"If people would just put themselves in the shoes of the people up there," Alkon concluded. "Imagine giving a speech and you look at them and see that not a person there is engaged in what you are saying. That is not an easy thing."