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Texting has become one of the primary forms of communication in the United States.  It is quick, convenient, and helps us keep in

touch with friends and family.  Here are some interesting texting statistics.

*On average, college students spend 94 minutes per day texting.

*Adults between 18-24 years old send and receive over 128 texts every day.

*33% of American adults prefer texts to all other forms of communication.

* The average response time for a text is 90 seconds.

 

With so much of our day-to-day communication riding on text messages, what should we keep in mind when texting?

 

1. Misunderstandings are common:

Important non-verbal communication such as body language, facial expressions and voice tone are left out of the texting conversation.  We believe our close friends will understand what we write at a deeper level then strangers will; however, according to one study, good friends will misunderstand the emotional context of emails/text just as much as strangers.  Without hearing the tone of voice and seeing the expressions and body language, you may not catch what the true meaning of the text is. Even the short phrase, “That’s fine,” can mean so many different things depending on tone and expression. How will you know if it means “Yes. That’s great, let’s plan on it.”? Or is it an angry “whatever!” meaning they are frustrated into giving up?  Maybe it means “I’m really ok with it, even though it isn’t my first choice.”   Try not to let your own mood and feelings read into what was said. If you are not sure about the meaning be sure to clarify the intent behind the words.

Another common misunderstanding with texting happens during the waiting for a response period. Since texts are so fast and the response time can be as short as 90 seconds, when the sender hits send they expect a quick answer back.  People are busy, they may be driving, doing homework, going to a movie and any number of activities.  They also may not want to respond right then.  Maybe they don’t know how to respond to something you said and need time to think about it. As the initial sender sits there waiting for a reply their anxiety level can climb rapidly.  When texting, understand that there are many reasons someone doesn’t answer right back.  Try to find something else to do and let go of the anxiety.  It’s not just test anxiety we have to worry about; text anxiety is a real thing.

 

2 Texting is not temporary or private:

Recording a conversation without permission is against the law, so we expect that our private communications will remain private.  Texting is not private!   If you send angry words, sexual images, or careless gossip it will go to someone’s phone and will stay there as long as they keep it.  They can easily take a screen shot and pass it on, post it on social media, email it to friends, etc.  It may not go away.  Even if your friend is trustworthy, they could leave the phone unattended and their not so trustworthy buddy could browse through it. Never send anything by text that you wouldn’t want the world to see.

Special note regarding sexting: Sexting is sending sexually explicit images or messages. It is against the law for anyone under age 18. If you are under the age of 18 and text sexually explicit images of yourself or someone else to another person, you are breaking the law and can be prosecuted for child pornography.  If someone under 18 sends you sexually explicit images and you do not delete them right away, you can also be prosecuted. Here is information about the laws on teen sexting in Wyoming.

 

 

3. Texting can be used to abuse and control others:

Constant harassing texts can include mean hurtful words, requesting sexual images from you and/or sending them to you, threats of harm against you or others, and all sorts of other controlling behavior such as making you prove where you are and who you are with by asking for pictures to prove it.

 

4. Texting isolates us from the people around us.

Don’t let texting and electronic gadgets isolate you from the people around you every day.  It is easy to see at restaurants, in cars, at sporting events, and in homes around the country. People are sitting next to each other with their faces planted in a screen rather than making eye contact and engaging the people around them.  You have to work to find a balance.  According to a study in Scientific American, even having a cell phone laying out during a conversation makes people feel less connected during the conversation. If you are with a group of people, put the phone all the way out of sight.  Try not to pull it out and check it every few minutes because it decreases your connection to the people around you.

 

5. Texting can be a Dangerous Distraction:

Texting pulls our attention away from the world around us down to our screens. Even a few seconds of distraction can lead to deadly traffic accidents.  It isn’t just distracted drivers that cause accidents. The number of pedestrian accidents have been going up because of distracted walkers as well.  People looking at phone screens walk into streets, walls, fountains, fall off cliffs, etc. because they’re not paying attention to their surroundings. If you need to text, stop driving, walking, running machinery, climbing your mountain, or whatever it is that you need to focus your attention on.  This is important – it might save your life!

 

While texting is fast, convenient and very useful in our day-to-day lives, it can also have some negative consequences.  Be aware of dangers inherent in using this amazing technology and take steps to prevent misunderstandings and poor texting choices, and stay aware of the world and people around you.

You are capable
of more than you know.