This question is for all our younger listeners: Would you knowingly hurt your grades, decrease your brain power, and put your friendships at risk? Well, turns out you’re doing it dozens of times a day. How? By text messaging. We found this in the Washington Post: Let’s start with a few facts.

  • If you’re between the ages of 13 and 17, you probably average about 80 texts a day and you text 10 times more than you make phone calls. Now, lots of parents encourage texting because they like feeling ‘in touch’ with their kids, but Sherry Turkle, a psychologist at MIT, says that’s one of the biggest problems. She believes being in constant contact with parents makes it harder for kids to think independently. Think about it. Your parents didn’t have text messaging when they were kids and they were still able to get by and be in touch with their family and friends. Since texting is so convenient, instead of thinking of solutions yourself, you may text Mom a question you could figure out yourself.
  • To take it a step further, Peter Pober, who teaches communications at George Mason University, says that texting is turning us into “sound bite thinkers.” In fact, he recently told other faculty members that for best results, they should limit their sentences to eight words during lectures. That’s about half the length he suggested before texting became the norm. Even the soundbites on TV newscasts during the presidential election were cut down to eight seconds because that’s all people can absorb now!
  • That lack of focus not only hurts grades - it hurts relationships. Linguistics professor Naomi Baron says that hard-core texters find it difficult to be “in the moment” with other people.


So, what does all this mean? Since texting is such a new phenomenon, it’s too early to tell exactly when it crosses the line between helpful and harmful. Experts do say that the same rules apply with texting as with cell phone calls:

  • Don’t do it while you’re doing homework – it pulls your focus.
  • Don’t text when you’re with other people – it’s disrespectful.
  • Don’t text after lights out at night. It can interfere with your sleep.