Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Is texting really an effective mode of communication?



In the world right now, there is one cell phone for every two people. In June 2000, 12 million text messages were sent worldwide. By June 2006, 12 billion text messages were sent worldwide. And my favourite factoid about cell phone domination is: in London they are putting up padding on lamp posts because people have been hurt walking into lamp posts while texting and walking.

How dominant have cell phones really become?  Well let’s do some number crunching through an example. There is this girl named Julie, she is a high-school student. She has an awesome cell phone that she uses everywhere! She uses her phone to text at home, at school, after practices, while she walks the dog and in the car while mom drives. She even takes her cell phone to bed with her. She even texts when the hum of her cell phone wakes her during the night. Julie says that she would die without her phone.

One day Julie’s mom opened her cell phone bill and realized that Julie sends and receives an eye-popping 6,473 text messages that month. That is 215 text messages a day. In 16 waking hours, that is 13 texts per hour. That means she is sending or receiving one text every four and a half minutes!  Texting runs her life.
Is texting really all that it is cracked up to be? Is it really worth waking up at 2am to respond? Is it really an effective way of communicating?  Some may say yes, ecstatically.

But what does it mean to communicate? To really communicate? It means we send messages that we encode for someone else to decode.  These messages are sent in words, tone of voice and facial expressions or body language – however you choose to define it. If my wife asks if I want to go to the movie and in response I sigh and say yes while rolling my eyes, what am I really communicating?  I am saying that I am definitely not interested in going to the movies.  This is because we depend on gestures and body language for 55% of the message decoding process; 38% for tone of voice and a lowly 7% for actual words.

When we text someone, even when we attempt to use emoticons, we are actually communicating poorly.  We are only using 7% of what our brain relies on for sending and receiving encoded messages.  We are missing out on larger experience. 

Text messaging, especially excessively like the example of Julie, does not enhance our social skills or social life.  It creates a false sense of security and belonging.  Text messaging, in some ways, is actually more isolating than it is a way of connecting.

Let us start putting down the cell phone and start talking to people, face to face.  Let’s send smiles with our face instead of emoticons. Let us communicate fully, instead of partially. Try it. You may soon realize what you have been missing out on.

Written by:

Josh Lockhart
.....is Locking Hearts Together
lockingheartstogether.blogspot.com

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