In the twenty-first century, texting is all the rage. If a person is in the market for a new phone, they may choose from a large selection of full keyboard phones to make texting easier and faster. Then there is the large choice of packages that are available. One can chose a plan with just minutes to talk or a plan with talk and text or even a plan with just texting. There is a plan out there for everyone. Texting may seem easy, convenient and the greatest invention in communication since E-mail but it has risks and disadvantages that many cell phone users do not realize.
Texting provides a simple and handy way to communicate with people without dialing a phone number or writing an e-mail. Texting has many benefits that cause people to love it and possibly become addicted to it. Some may even go as far to say it is life changing. “Just a few years back, I had never sent a text in my life” says Amber Alexander in her article on the pros and cons of texting. What exactly makes texting a need-to-have accessory? There are many answers to this question. First, if a person is in a public place such as a doctor’s waiting room where a phone call is inappropriate, texting allows a cell phone user to carry on a conversation with another person privately without disturbing the people in the room.
Next, one can send their friend or multiple friends a quick text saying that they will be late or reminding them of an appointment. Even hospitals use texting to remind patients to take daily medication. A simple text can make a person healthier because it establishes easier doctor-patient communication.
Another benefit of texting is the “text and call”. The text and call is when a person texts their friend to see if they will be available to talk or to have them call when it is most convenient. When the friend receives the message, they can either call immediately or text back and say what time they are available to talk. The two talkers can agree on a time that works best for each of them.
Cell phone owners can also choose to get the news, weather or traffic sent straight to their phone. No more watching television waiting for the
weather or traffic to come on. One does not have to waste time watching the weather for the whole state when they can get their specific area’s forecast. This is the same for traffic. One can get the traffic report that relates exactly to their daily commute. High schools and colleges, including the University of Scranton, use texting to inform students and faculty of school closings and other emergency situations.
Sending a quick text may seem like the perfect way to communicate with someone on the go or when there is not time to have a full conversation. But texting has disadvantages that can affect the user, both socially and physically, for the rest of their life. Socially, it can ruin one’s communication and writing skills and physically, texting can kill.
Since the invention of texting, there are fewer phone calls made. Some people find it more comfortable to talk via text than in person or on the phone. But with texting, one loses the sense of human interaction that comes with talking to a person and listening to others when they speak. When typing out a text, a person cannot convey their emotions. Texts cannot express sarcasm, irritation, happiness, or playfulness because of the lack of body language and tone. As a result, texts can easily be misunderstood. One may be simply joking around with their friend and end up upsetting them because something said in a text message was taken seriously. Next, texting lingo has made its way into the vocabulary of pre-teens, teenagers and adults all over the world. Because of texting, abbreviations such as “jk” for “just kidding”, “cause” instead of “because”, and even “n” for “and” are popularly inserted carelessly into school papers and essays. Texters shorten their words in order to write their message faster or meet the character limit to send a single text message. In an article in the Pantagraph, a newspaper based in Bloomington Illinois, author Phyllis Coulter interviewed several teachers from the local area on the impact of texting on students’ writing. John Nelson, a high school teacher said he throws out papers that are too difficult to understand due to abbreviations, incorrect punctuation and “text-style wording”. “”It (Texting) creates lazy habits,” he said of communicating with lack of punctuation, capitalization and traditional spelling. ”It has a definite negative impact on writing.””
Jacquie Ream, another local teacher believes that “text messaging and the Internet “are destroying the way our kids, read, think and write.”” If children continue to write improperly, the texting lingo could stick with them for the rest of their lives.
Texting while driving has been one of the most popular topics in the news lately. Instead of pulling over to the side of the road to answer the phone, teenagers and adults chose to put themselves as well as the drivers around them in danger just to read or answer a text message. According to a study by the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., which surveyed 800 teens up to the age 17, one-third of teens ages 16 or 17 who text say they have texted while driving and 48 percent say they have been in a car when the driver was texting. In addition, 4 out of every 5 accidents are caused by distracted drivers, while drunk drivers cause one out of three of all accidents in the United States. This means that “texting while driving is about six times more likely to result in an accident than driving while intoxicated”. Cell phones are a distraction to any driver and texting makes it even more distracting. If a driver would not open up their laptop, place it on their lap and start typing an e-mail while driving 50 or 60 miles per hour on the highway, what makes texting any safer? Drivers who have used their phone either to text or talk have found themselves slowing down, or weaving in and out of lanes. This leads to drivers getting in car accidents with other cars or pedestrians. Oprah Winfrey has started a campaign called “The No Phone Zone” in which she gets people to sign a contract agreeing not to use their phone while driving. Oprah has had several celebrities on her show sign this contract including Sandra Bullock, Jeff Bridges, Jerry Seinfeld and Olympic gold medalist Shaun White. On her website, Oprah tells the story of the Los Angeles train crash in September 2008. A train conductor missed a red light while sending text messages. The train crashed into a freight train, injuring over a hundred people. The conductor and twenty four other commuters were killed.
The war on texting has been a tough one. While texting is a convenient invention, its users should be aware of the risks. Cell phone owners should use texting in moderation and not become too dependent on texts to
communicate with family and friends. Parents and teachers should teach the young people that while texting has advantages it is not the only mean of communication. The easy-to-type texting vocabulary has found its way into the formal writing of children and teenagers and the quick typing that distracts a driver for a second is causing car accidents and deaths all over the world. If a driver is about to text and drive, they should ask themselves: Is the risk really worth it?