New York Times says texting is hurting teens

What is it that the New York Times claims is causing teens anxiety, falling grades, repetitive stress injury and sleep deprivation? They claim teens are doing it at school, late at night, at restaurants and while crossing the street.

What is this plague that is taking control of today's youth? They say texting is the cause of all the aforementioned ailments. It may also be altering the way youth grow up and become adults.

Physiologists say that youth in their teen years start to gain independence from their parents as well as growing into their own individual adult. Texting is helping to shape teens as they grow by constantly being connected to their peers and parents.

A simple constant connection or the "always on" keeps teens up at night, constantly texting and it genuinely distracts them for more important things that are going on in their vicinity.

Further texting is taking a serious toll in the class room. "Teachers are often oblivious. It's a huge issue, and it's rampant," said Deborah Yager, a high school chemistry teacher in Castro Valley, Calif. Ms. Yager recently gave an anonymous survey to 50 of her students; most said they texted during class."

Adding to the mental stress is also the physical stress on the body. Rampant texting is much like typing for long periods. "Based on our experiences with computer users, we know intensive repetitive use of the upper extremities can lead to musculoskeletal disorders, so we have some reason to be concerned that too much texting could lead to temporary or permanent damage to the thumbs."

It is still unknown how texting will change the world as the teens grow up. In about ten years today's teens will have graduated college and be out in the professional world. How will all of this change business communication? Who knows, maybe the next major corporate merger will take place on Twitter.

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Sending text messages will soon phase out just as sending pages over a pager did in the late 90's. But in the meantime I think putting up signal blockers in classrooms, theaters, and other places you don't want or need phones going off or being used should be valid options. But as I said even in theaters you have people open them up to look at them and the light from all modern phones will dwarf even high powered flashlights!! I remember walking behind a few kids in a haunted house recently and could see one of them open a phone to see where they were going to only hear those inside working the haunted house scream out to turn it off... what good is it to pay to run through something like that when your just going to cheat your way through?

yeah. people today specially kids are texting perpetually. keeping in touch is good but making it a career makes a person unproductive. no matter how fast you can text a message you still consume time in doing so, not to mention the reply and the next text and the reply again, this goes on and on indefinitely and talk about concentration, how on earth can someone text a message and still have 100% concentration on any task at hand? see any vehicular accidents lately involving a driver texting while on the road? you simply cannot text and look at the road at the same time. this goes for students as well, you simply will not understand what your teacher/professor is yapping about in the classroom if you keep on texting your friends and then expect good grades.

this is not a moral issue but rather a call for plain common sense and decency. too much texting wastes time, ruins your concentration and believe it or not, a rude behavior to those you are with/ speaking to face to face.

also you would notice a text addict when he replies to you on the internet like messenger or a pm with a fully abbreviated message with no grammar at all. its exasperating. i'm like "hey we are using keyboards now and messenger does not charge when you reach 120 characters. try to make full sentences and spell properly ok?". no i'm not a grammar nazi but please text abbreviation on messenger? i think thats too much.

I doubt the ability to be in constant contact with parents over the phone will have any major effect on independence, I mean if they haven't invented bitch-slap-over-IP/phone I doubt they've invented "kiss goodnight" or anything else over the phone XD

These comments....Neowin Fail.

From the ages of 15 to 17, I was texting most lessons in school and then at home.
I'm blaming girls for that.


acnpt said,
These comments....Neowin Fail.

Who "fails"? The article, the comments? This comment is closer to text language than understandable English.

Oh my... this is NEWS?

If teens get obsessed over anything then it will negatively impact other areas of their life. It could be Internet, video games, food, talking on the phone, whatever. Texting is just another thing. We don't need surveys or studies or reports to determine this as it is NOT news.

If it is a problem then parents need to do their d--- job. Problem solved.

It does not hurt me.
knowing when to use your phone is the key.

OT, I like listening to music than texting.
or better yet listening to music while texting. haha

It seems like I'm destined to die. I text quite often - and to all you parents out there stressing the morals, I text during class as well. Surprisingly, my grades have not suffered in the slightest, (I maintain my A average) nor have I experienced anything else this article states.

I complete most of my text messages in around 10 seconds, maybe less - and my phone isn't exactly a text-friendly phone. (will change once my plan ends) Texting is hell of a lot quicker when you don't need a verbal communication, and a lot of times, you don't. I'm texting a group of friends to see if they want to go to the movies, see if my girlfriend wants to go out, asking someone else for this person's phone number, etc.

The older generation will always (for the most part) be opposed to the actions of the younger. Why? Because change is a villainous and always evil aspect of society, and it must be stopped. Anyone who actually believes that texting is destroying our youth is beyond moronic.

Now, if your child is one of those who sends tens of thousands a messages a month, then I could see your point..

The problem here is you have been brought up believing as long as you achieve an average grade that is seen to be good then everything is fine. If you texted less you could probably do less homework, have more free time, and do something constructive. Or just simply do even better in class, unless you are getting consistently 100% there's always room for improvement - and even then you can push it to a higher level.

Texting is fine, but it really doesn't need to exist in the classroom / dinner table etc. - you have plenty of time elsewhere to do it.

I completely agree with HolyOne. I don't think he texts for hours on end. (At least, I don't.) He said he spends < 10s. To have even 15 mins of extra time a day, he'd have to send at least 90 texts. That's not much extra time for homework, free time or for constructive activities anyway. You also said "you have plenty of time elsewhere to do it", but wouldn't that mean less time for yourself, homework or something constructive? As a side point, an A is not an "average" grade, at least not in the UK.

I haven't texted during dinner, but I have in lectures. (I don't know many people of my generation who haven't ever.) I don't think that there is anything wrong with texting in moderation. In the space of a few seconds that it takes to send a text, I wouldn't have missed an important point. Also, once you're used to texting, you can pretty much pay attention to the lecture and send a message to someone. Honestly, it hasn't affected my learning.

What I'm trying to say is all your points seem to apply to people who send "tens of thousands a messages a month", in which case, quoting HolyOne once again, "I could see your point".

To explain the process of marks:

If everyone texts in classes and everyone in that class becomes "dumber" the grades stay the same even if everyone is not doing so well. This is because grade averaging over years stabilises how many get As Bs etc. etc. So having an "average" (average being his arithmetic mean on his marks - not meaning "okay" from arithmetic mean from the population) staying the same in a growing population of texting in lessons proves well F*** all. Maybe paying attention to Maths classes more this would make sense?

--------------

"you have plenty of time elsewhere to do it" (watching TV etc.)

Most lessons are an hour or two at most usually - anything that cant wait that long should be pretty serious in my opinion - and if that's the case it probably shouldn't be sent in a text anyway.

There's no issue in it being sending say 1 text a day in a class at some point - I think this is grasping more at those who send say 10+ texts a day during classes.

mmck said,
The problem here is you have been brought up believing as long as you achieve an average grade that is seen to be good then everything is fine. If you texted less you could probably do less homework, have more free time, and do something constructive. Or just simply do even better in class, unless you are getting consistently 100% there's always room for improvement - and even then you can push it to a higher level.

Texting is fine, but it really doesn't need to exist in the classroom / dinner table etc. - you have plenty of time elsewhere to do it.


An A is not an average grade - by saying I maintain my A average, it means that the grade I get in all my classes is an A. That has not slipped. If anything, my grades percentage wise have improved this year, and thats with taking much harder classes.

I do not text at the dinner table because I too think that's rude, and most messages can wait the 10 - 15 minutes that dinner typically lasts. I don't know how old you are, but if you think most kids would use their spare time for studying, then you are dead wrong. I'm not saying I don't study, but it's not like I spend every spare minute I have with a textbook open trying to further my knowledge.

Manish said,
I completely agree with HolyOne. I don't think he texts for hours on end. (At least, I don't.) He said he spends < 10s. To have even 15 mins of extra time a day, he'd have to send at least 90 texts. That's not much extra time for homework, free time or for constructive activities anyway. You also said "you have plenty of time elsewhere to do it", but wouldn't that mean less time for yourself, homework or something constructive? As a side point, an A is not an "average" grade, at least not in the UK.

I haven't texted during dinner, but I have in lectures. (I don't know many people of my generation who haven't ever.) I don't think that there is anything wrong with texting in moderation. In the space of a few seconds that it takes to send a text, I wouldn't have missed an important point. Also, once you're used to texting, you can pretty much pay attention to the lecture and send a message to someone. Honestly, it hasn't affected my learning.

What I'm trying to say is all your points seem to apply to people who send "tens of thousands a messages a month", in which case, quoting HolyOne once again, "I could see your point".

I send around 100 a day, sometimes more, sometimes less. All depends.

You bring up some valid points. My texting "skills" have gotten to the point where I don't need to be looking down at my phone to know what it is that I'm writing, and while I can't say it doesn't distract me whatsoever because it does divide my attention, it's not the endall that everyone seems to be thinking it is. No, I am not going to fail my next math exam because I sent a couple messages during class - No, I am not going to miss half the lecture because I decided to text a friend seeing if he wanted to do anything after school.

Another thing is that adults seem to think that cell phone policies are either nonexistent or not enforced in schools. The latter, I can somewhat agree with. But I have heard of no school that does not have a no cell phone policy - that means you can't text during class. can't have your phone out, etc. The suggestion that phones should be banned altogether from campuses is ridiculous. I need my phone, as do most other teenagers. Adults always whip out the, "Oh, I did just fine without a phone." Hell yeah you did, fortunately, this isn't the 70's or 80's anymore.

I know how the grading system works. Was there a need to criticise my maths ability? Do you hear me telling you to take some modern world, people skill or communication classes? No.

The comment about maintaining an average A grade was used to show that texting in classes doesn't neccessarily affect everyone in the same way. Without using the grading system as a marker for intelligence, how else was he going to show you if texting made him dumber or not? Since you don't know how high, in terms of raw marks, his As are, you can't assume that grade averaging is maintaing his As. You also don't know if everyone around him is texting frequently enough in classes, for texting to be a major factor contributing to grade averaging.

---------------

I was talking about moderate texting. 10s out of a 1-2hr lecture is less than half a percent. Even without texting, you'll be distracted for more than that. And as I said, it isn't hard to focus on more than 2 things at once (for example, you don't need to look while texting). So, in my opinion, it's okay to text in lectures, as long as it's not excessive.

I was making a joke, and I was pointing out a complete mis understanding in what I was trying to say - and that was maintaining a certain level means little with so much to consider. From one year and one subject to the next grades alter dramatically too. I was originally saying put down the phone and do something more constructive than pointless messaging, 100 a day is insane in my opinion, and you are on the verge of being addicted.

People sitting getting employed to send sex chat messages probably send less - maybe you should get a job doing that and you can earn money whilst in class.

Seriously? What's with these "moral issues" articles on Neowin lately? Texting is great. You can send a quick message or picture to anyone at any time without having to call them up and bother them. Kids in school should be prohibited from bringing them into class. It's that simple. Outside of class it's perfectly fine. Do these people think kids went to bed at a "reasonable" hour every night before texting became common? No, of course not. You could apply the same argument to any other form of entertainment or communication. Every new innovation has its drawbacks, but most of the time the benefits far outweigh them. I got a cell phone when I was about 14 and used it to call family. Now I have a QWERTY phone and use it all the time. When I was in high school I never texted during class mostly out of respect for my teachers, but I can see why you could become distracted. If kids in class really want to learn, they'll know not to waste time on their phone. Otherwise, kids who don't care will be doing anything else but paying attention, no matter if it's texting, drawing, writing notes, or falling asleep.

I never had a phone until I was 17 (in 2004). I say ban them for under-16's. I got on just fine without one. If I wasn't self employed, I'd be throwing mine in the bin.

While I completely understand the argument that texting can be distracting during class. Let us remember that you can block texting on a phone line. However, I am so impossibly busy that I never have the time to talk to somebody on the phone. It is much more time effective for me to be able to talk to more than one person at once and to be able to save what people are saying.

Well I'm 16 and I got my first cell phone 5 months ago (we had 3 family cells for the 5 of us). Considering I got an iPhone and it sucks for texting, I rarely text. Sadly most of my texts are to my mom lol.

Thank you for telling the truth about iPhone's on screen keyboard. I love honesty.

And I love texting (On my Windows Mobile phone with a full slide out keyboard)

@Omen1393
I don't know what iPhone you have, but mine's doesn't suck for texting. I found it to be an improvement over texting on other phones.

@andrewbares
Why do people need to be lying if they like the onscreen keyboard? And thanks for sharing.

the iPhone keyboard is a general improvement over a 12 button keypad.

Though any qwerty keypad that is not touch screen is far superior to the iPhones imo. Its because of tactile feedback - it the reason you can text and dial without looking at the keypad - this is far harder to learn on an iPhone.

Agreed. The iPhone touchscreen keyboard definitely takes getting used to. Though it would be interesting if they applied a method of feedback, while still using a touch screen. (Maybe shock you with an electric current. Along those lines, except not ridiculous.)

Many other touch screen devices have tactile feedback with slight vibrations. We will see it on a later iPhone device and be labelled as revolutionary and suddenly phones years older will be considered to be "copies" of the iPhone.

My two sons are 15 and they text fairly often. Often enough anyway where it becomes a distraction. This is the point the article is trying to make. Kids are often texting at inappropriate times. In school is not the time, true kids used to pass notes, but it takes a lot longer to write one and I tend to believe more are texting than did notes percentage-wise because its quicker to text.

My sons will be texting at dinner (rude) and simply while walking with people instead of talking. There is a time and place for texting but most kids do not realize the best times and do it anytime at all. I think phones should be banned at school or at the very least be kept in a location other than the childs so it can't be used. They are needed for emergencies sometimes so banning might be a little too strong-armed.
Better yet though, kids shouldn't have a phone that can text, just a basic phone for emergencies, but that comes down to the parents to police.

Dude, when cell phone's first came out, you could say the same thing:

"My sons will be talking on the phone at dinner (rude) and simply while walking with people instead of talking with them"

It's called new technology. Learn to adapt, don't be like the caveman in the Geico commercials.

Its incredible easy to control your kids from doing such things. The real trick is to teach kids the value of money at a very early age (15 is probably too late).

Kids need pocket money and not say £1 to go buy sweets. Give them enough to make their own decisions they will soon learn to stop texting. (basically dont give them enough to get an unlimted text plan or similar). If they can only afford a pay as you go phone and can only top up £10 every other week or so they will soon stop texting to their hearts content - and if they complain ask why the hell they need to text so much? I know kids who have phones who work like this and its amazing they can make £10 of credit last 2 or more months - they then save and realise they can buy better thing than disposable texts.

Parents should not control kids so they dont make mistakes, they should let them make mistake (let them text like hell for 3 days - oh no, I have no credit, oh dear. Better text less next month - it is that simple).

Though what can you expect with current world situation being down to so many adults not having a clue about money and "texting" to their own hearts content.

Yeah man cause the other thing to do, and i know that is sounds like medieval mentality, could it be ehhh making that your kids do what you tell them to, cause like always today parents keep looking for something to blame for their lack of balls when it comes to educate your children (video games, satanic music, internet, cell phones....), like Bill Cosby once said the more important thing that you can do for your kid is telling them "over my dead body", just make some simple rules that they HAVE to follow, obviously no white parent understand this archaic concept of RESPECT your progenitor....then again most of them don't deserve it as G. Carlin also said.

Note passing is far more overt than texting. Furthermore, you can't send a bazillion notes to people outside of the classroom any time you want.

Note passing is not the equivalent of texting.

Gameboys are another overt device and they were in far fewer numbers than cellphones.

Game Boy Color Anyone 1990s?
Game Boy Advanced Early 2000?
Game Boy SP Mid 2000?
Game Boy Pocket Mid 1990s?
PSP Mid 2000s?

Note passing As Long As Paper Has Been Around?
Cordless Phones 1990s?
Wired Phones in bedrooms 1970s 1980s 1990s?
Laptops Mid 2000 / Current?

I hardly doubt texting is such a major concern that its unheard of to have these types of "side effects" before.

Texting is an entirely different activity from all of your examples. Texting is something you can pay attention to for a couple seconds and then completely disconnect from. It's the start-and-stop conversation style that is new and unique and getting attention for whatever effect it may have.

What's more important, though, is how dismissive so many people are. If it turns out that a texting habit DOES have negative side effects, we should know about it. Instead, even when the studies for this sort of thing are just kicking off, they get attacked by negative feedback and rants across the internet. The defensiveness is pretty dang weird, and itself indicative of a problem.

^ That's why our young generation is so great at multitasking, because "Texting is something you can pay attention to for a couple seconds and then completely disconnect from".

Thank you soo much texting! My parent's can't mulitask for their life.

You missed "calculator games".
I swear everyone had a Ti-83 or 83+ in high school (required for most math classes) and everyone constantly played games.

The best was playing tetris in study hall against someone with the link cable.

michael.dobrofsky said,
This whole disengagement of society and what's around us in favor of electronic devices must have some impact on us all.

i completely agree.

Recon415 said,
Take the cellphones away :)

Kids shouldn't have cellphones. It's a distraction from class and real life problems.


Real life problems like not having a cellphone.

I'm 16 right now- in high school. I have texting in my cell plan, but do I text? Almost never, and even when I do, it's in my free time. It's a stupid way to waste one's youth, just like drugs and alcohol. What is so goddamn important that it requires texting every 2 minutes?

Take away the average teen's cell phone and watch them lose their sanity within 5 minutes of not being able to "lol with their bffs."

^ Very true, many kids freak out about taking their phone away. I can live without texting (I too am a teen) but I can't live without my phone, lol. I have a good reason though! It runs Windows Mobile! So I can do everything on my phone, just like my computer. Adults just have to face it, phone's are new technology, and they have to adapt to it!

I'm a teen. I never needed a cellphone, never thought of getting one. I've used my mom's phone on several occasions, and yet I just simply don't see what's so appealing about spending half a minute on a 2 word sentence when passing a note if sufficient. I want to speak to a friend outside my schedule, I find them at lunch. I want to play games, I buy a PSP. If I need internet access, I can use my netbook or a PDA. Not a day goes by where someone doesn't manage to interrupt class with a ringtone or something.

Same here. I only use my mobile if I need to make a call, and I very rarely ever text. I prefer being on the interwebs and lose my life along the way instead. :P

Recon415 said,
Take the cellphones away :)

Kids shouldn't have cellphones. It's a distraction from class and real life problems.

....expecially when they slam into a tree at 50mph while texting.

Meh, I text about 900 times per month(according to sms counter, this week I've texted 221 texts since sunday), without my phone I would feel slightly lost + bored. It's also a kind of security especiallyl when out nd about.

srsly?

"It is still unknown how texting will change the world as the teens grow up."

so kids having their own phone in their room didnt provide constant connectedness and "keep teens up at night"?
kids didnt pass notes in class before phones?

if your 15 and suffering from "repetitive stress injury" from typing on a phone your simply doing it wrong. is it possible for a 15 year old to cause serious tendon damage from a QWERTY phone?

to make a claim like "It may also be altering the way youth grow up and become adults." is amazing. well no S&%T its changing the way kids grow up. they use a device as their main form of communication and they can do it when ever they like. thats like saying the creation of the USPS changes the way kids of that era grew up. having someone ELSE take their mail from place to place is ground breaking and earth shattering.

am i out of line to think this is a retarded waste of New York Times publication space? no?

Nose Nuggets said,
srsly?


if your 15 and suffering from "repetitive stress injury" from typing on a phone your simply doing it wrong. is it possible for a 15 year old to cause serious tendon damage from a QWERTY phone?


you can do damage from constant repetitious motion...its kinda like the chinese water tourture...the first drop hitting you doesnt hurt, but the 12k one does

The writer is probably 30's or early 40's, older generations generally don't like change. They might dislike the fact that kids these day spend 75% of their waking hours on the internet or cellphone, but they probably as kids spent that same amount of time on the TV or telephone.

This might sounds like I'm contradicting myself, but I can see where she's coming from where moderation is key, anything in excess can be unhealthy. Spending an hour or two on the cellphone is fine, but from some stories I hear about kids sending 10,000 text messages or spending hours on end on the cellphone/internet is bound to have some unwanted effects. The same way if a kid in the 70's spent the majority of their childhood glued to the tube, there's bound to be some effects on social development and health. Or teens in the 80's who spent more time on the phone than studying probably would've affected their grades.

In other words, this is nothing new but that doesn't make it not a problem.

of course the technological advances we are experiencing will have an effect on the development of cranial capabilities. Some of these effects will definitely be beneficial, leading to increased reflex times, multitasking power, and increased cranial capacity for random facts - but at the same time a number of ancient abilities are being lost - a decrease in attention spans, cooking, reading books, etc
To attribute all these changes directly to texting is silly, but to see it as the effect of the gradual onset of technological dependencies is more closely aligned to the right track of though.

Because this is more than the normal generational gap, but rather the "Analogue" to "Digital" generational gap, the older generations aren't used to the pace at which technology (and hence culture) changes. Many old values may still be true but you have to put them into Analogue/Digital context before you can work out their future importance. For example; it is so fast to find information, reading a book in its entirety is often less efficient than using the internet to get exactly the info you're looking for.
It is highly unlikely that this type of technology will vanish any time soon, but rather people will become even more "always on".
The way they grow up will therefore be useful in the future. Remember! What is important today is not always important tomorrow.
In general, I don't see a problem with it unless there was some reason that the whole technology would stop working.
To more specific cases; I can see a problem if it were to interrupt other people e.g. other students.
The way you stop this is by punishing people that cause disruption with ringtones during classes etc.
Don't get me started on the educational side effects because I think there are more serious social problems that need to be solved (and which would solve this type of thing) first, such as the current mentality "school is bad" or similar.

Now for why I replied in this thread; NyaR, "development of cranial capabilities" will not change unless you either embed technology there or give it a few hundred generations of natural selection, which isn't going to happen any time soon. What I think you meant was we learn to use the environment we have by the experience, rather than developing new physical capabilities.