Episode Information

WWL: OMG! The Toll of Texting
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
Aired:
06/09/2009
Share this Content

In this episode:

Texting: harmless or hazardous?

 

Episode Audio

48:58 minutes (23.51 MB)
Download this Episode

American teenagers send and receive an average of 2,272 text messages per month. Teens are texting almost 80 messages a day – at school, on the bus, at the mall, and in bed late at night. But what effect is this having on grammar and health… and what does this constant communication mean for the future of our youth? Are they “the dumbest generation” or is it just a fad? Coming up, we’ll talk to a linguist who says it’s no big deal – and a sociologist who sees this as a sign that our society is progressively deteriorating.


 
Voices from RHAM High School - on texting

1:05 minutes (0.52 MB)
Download this Audio Resource
Voices from RHAM High School - on texting and literacy

0:57 minutes (0.46 MB)
Download this Audio Resource

Related Content:

Facebook Comment from Fred

Like Chion, my kids refuse to use 2 for to, too, u for you.... ur for your, you're.  I use them because it economizes on text, however, they show their friends my texts for a laugh and roll of the eyes.... parents being cool....LOL.

Abe Lincoln invented the emoticon...

Listener Email

I'm an elementary school teacher.  When teachers teach writing, we ask students to consider their audience.  Even my second graders understand that difference between a story for writers workshop and a letter to the principal and an email to a friend.  I think if we concentrate on audience, some of the short-cut language used in texting won't be as evident in students' school writing.  This carries over into things like reviewing facebook postings when you're looking for a job.  I think people will become more conscious of audience as technology increases our writing opportunities.

Listener Email from Bette

The Problem is this:  Can students/adults see Mill's point here?

Capacity for the nobler feelings is in most natures a very tender plant, easily killed, not only by hostile influences, but by mere want of sustenance; and in the majority of young persons it speedily dies away if the occupations to which their position in life has devoted them, and the society into which it has thrown them, are not favourable to keeping that higher capacity in exercise. Men lose their high aspirations as they lose their intellectual tastes, because they have not time or opportunity for indulging them; and they addict themselves to inferior pleasures, not because they deliberately prefer them, but because they are either the only ones to which they have access, or the only ones which they are any longer capable of enjoying.  J.S. Mill (Utilitarianism, Chapter 2)

Listener Email from Martha

I, for one, am tired of check-out clerks checking their text messages while working and refusing to make eye contact with customers.  But even more annoying are "grown-ups" who are addicted to their cellphones - especially the ones who zone out in the grocery store and have no idea how stupid they sound, screaming their personal business to everyone in earshot.
 
There used to be an old addage, even of unspoken, that you always paid attention to whomever you were speaking with face-to-face and that answering a ringing phone required (at the least) a polite "excuse me, I have to get this."  Nowadays, my adult friends think nothing of answering a cellphone call, without any of those pleasantries - even if we're mid-sentence in conversation.  What's even worse is when they get a text message - they just stop looking at you, keep talking and check their text message. 
 
I still only use my cell phone for emergencies or important calls when I am away from home.  Nothing is so important that I have to talk and drive, talk and grocery shop, etc., and I will never text, period.

Listener Email from Rachel

I'm a professor, and I absolutely see the effect of texting on my students' e-mail communications with me.  Many of them don't understand that a professor-student relationship is a professional one and expressing themselves in abbreviations and all lower-case letters reflects poorly on them.
 
Also, many students don't realize that it's rude to text in class--they'll text brazenly in the front row, phone on notebook if I don't nip it in the bud.  And how do I do that, you may ask?  In the beginning of each semester, I lay down the law: if a cell phone rings or if I catch someone texting during class, I give a pop quiz!

Listener Email from Jason

My girlfriend and I text to keep in touch during work.  She sends and recieves from her computer while I use my phone.  It has been an important aspect of communication in our relationship and allows us to seek and give support to one another during stressful times.

Listener Email from Kelly

Perhaps I'm just old for my age (I just turned 26), but I think it's incredibly rude when kids start texting while you're trying to talk to them. My ex boyfriend was attached to his cell phone and would immediately read & respond to a text, even if we were out to dinner on a date or if he was driving. (It terrifies me when people text while driving, even though I have done it myself.)

Also, what really bothers me is when people write, "your welcome," and if I point it out, they say, "your crazy." Even my boss uses the wrong "you're" and it makes me have less respect for her.

TXTNG: Higher and lower pleasures

As a teacher (college) where texting is ubiquitous, I would love to believe the folks who are not alarmed by this trend.  If only I could get my students to raise their sights to the pleasures of the intellect, I might be more reassured.

Is Mill's point relevant to this discussion?

"Capacity for the nobler feelings is in most natures a very tender plant, easily killed, not only by hostile influences, but by mere want of sustenance; and in the majority of young persons it speedily dies away if the occupations to which their position in life has devoted them, and the society into which it has thrown them, are not favourable to keeping that higher capacity in exercise. Men lose their high aspirations as they lose their intellectual tastes, because they have not time or opportunity for indulging them; and they addict themselves to inferior pleasures, not because they deliberately prefer them, but because they are either the only ones to which they have access, or the only ones which they are any longer capable of enjoying."  J.S. Mill (Utilitarianism, Chapter 2)

 

Something was missing

While I thoroughly enjoyed this program today, there was something missing.  The callers repeatedly mentioned the decline in student acheivement, through reading and writing scores, etc.  But there has been another change in society since texting became so popular (and for that matter, chatrooms and instant messangers):  teaching for the tests (aka No Child Left Behind).  While I don't think that texting all day every day is an attractive quality, I think it is just something that teenagers do to assert themselves.  It's not much different than spending hours on the phone as teenagers were apt to do before all this technology.

 

On a secondary note:  teenagers will always be teenagers!  No matter what the generation, teenagers will always be seen as different by the adults watching them.  Some might say they do it on purpose....

 

 

Listener Email from Ron

I am 23 and, yes, we are part of a dumb generation, although I do not only blame text messaging. I blame the saturation of images that we are bombarded with constantly, through television, the internet and advertising. Text messaging is a distraction, although it is not as destructive as I feel the analysists assume.

Also, what is causing our generation to be so dumb? The breakdown of family values and the common time to spend as a family. Watching television is not a quality family activity. Having dinner is and enjoying time together on walks or playing games is also quality family time.

Again, text messaging is a distraction, but it's not the worst thing that is affecting the youth of today.

Ron
Naugatuck

Listener Email from Renee

my son is a grad student far from home, here. he had a severe allergic reaction, couldn't breathe well enough to dial 911, and talk to an operator, but managed to "tweet' well enough for one of his social circle nearby to get him emergency treatment in short order!

Listener Email from Laura

What concerns me about texting culture is that it's another way our work life intrudes into our home life. More and more of the agencies and businesses I deal with in my work are now on Facebook and Twitter. I fear that with their increasing presence in this media will come increased expectations that I will be following them, and not just during my work hours.

Listener Email from Chion

there are text message purists out there! i refuse to use the number 2 for "to", or the letter "u" for you. AND predictive text improves your spelling - sometimes if i don't know how to spell a word (rarely, of course), i'll type it into my Nokia to see if i've got it right!

Listener Email from Keith

I would like to add my voice to calls that condemn this dangerous practice.

Additionally I would consider it a public service if CPBN would speak up and actually request callers to all call-in-events not talk while driving, but pull over and stop, applying to both hand held and hands free devices – the latter being only marginally safer then hands free.

Email from Mary

I had an 8th grade student last year that was failing most of her classes but she was a MASTER at texting IN her pocket. I just wish she could have focused that well on her school work....