Texting Ruins Interpersonal Skills – Especially Amongst Teens

In my devil’s advocate piece, I argue that texting is beneficial for introverts. It helps them to remain connected with others without leaving the comfort of home. However, I believe quite the opposite; that texting hinders social communication between people by eliminating the need for physical encounters.

Two years ago, text messaging surpassed safety on the list of reasons why teens purchase cell phones. If this says anything about our priority list as consumers, it’s that we’re become unhealthily obsessed with our mobile phones.

Today, you can visit nearly any public setting – a park, school, restaurant, shopping mall, town pool – and see most of our youth on their cell phones.  Despite being with friends and family, they’re overcome by whoever is on the other side of their screens. With Americans sending an average of 3,339 texts per month, amounting to more than six texts every hour, we can’t help but imagine what everyone is constantly talking about.

Although it can be argued that texting helps introverts communicate or that it keeps teens out of trouble, I believe otherwise. For introverts, this is probably the majority of their social interaction, deteriorating their interpersonal skills. How can you learn to communicate with others when you’re hiding behind a screen? For teens, this means late-night texting, texting during family outings, and texting while driving, none of which have positive outcomes.

According to the Pew Research Center , 72 percent of teens text every day, with one-third sending more than 100 texts daily. Although parents may support texting because it keeps their child home and behaved, rather than roaming the streets, it also distracts them from family conversation and quality time spent. I’m sure that more than a handful of us have seen teens incessantly texting at the dinner table, ignoring conversation and passively escaping the situation.

But teens aren’t the only problem. Adults can avoid contact with a family member or unwanted suitor by ignoring their phone calls and sending a quick text instead. “Busy. Sry.” Not only is this rude, but it hinders our ability to handle certain situations, such as a family fight or rejection of an unwanted mate. Constantly hiding behind text messages only leads to avoiding important situations.

Although by nature, human beings have problems communicating , texting only worsens the situation. The only communication is via words and emoticons, which prevent friends from exchanging laughs, physically touching and learning general behaviors such as appropriate eye contact or personal space. You can be friends with someone for months via text and have extremely poor physical communication and body language upon meeting.

It’s true that for introverts and teens with strict parents, texting provides an avenue to get to know others. Wikihow.com suggests asking open-ended questions that illicit a longer reply. Specifically, the site says not to ask yes or no questions, such as, “Do you like pop music?” instead asking, “What are your favorite genres of music? ” But, wouldn’t it be more impacting to listen to music together? Or, learn what your friend’s favorite music is by spending time with him/her? These conversations can be meaningless without physical time spent to support them.

There’s no reason for text messaging to replace physical interaction or to invade in your encounters with others. Although it’s exciting to preoccupy one’s self with texts throughout the day, it’s better to physically leave the house and chat with a friend. You’ll get to know his or her habits and quirks – even simple details such as his/her clothing style. And if you’re using text messaging to meet a potential suitor, how can flat words be an indication of chemistry? Texting can only connect people to a certain extent, but beyond that, these fabricated don’t have much substance.

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2 comments
  1. I see a lot of rewriting, Escapist. This is my primary lesson. And you are improving. You are a good writer, but we all need to work at words.

    I struggle between knowing when to use very sophisticated language versus more casual language.

    It’s not easy, but it is helpful to think of your audience as friends. You want to share with and help them, not impress or condescend to them. Ubiquitous, in my opinion, is a word everyone in my audience should know. Use it and let the good readers pick up a dictionary. But if you really think it will turn your particular audience off, then don’t. If you are speaking to a crowd that knows your jargon, use those shortcuts. If you are posting online, throw in some quick definitions to aid the casual surfer.

    “Share” is one of the great online words that should define how we think and act.

    Think about each sentence. Does it convey what you wish?

    Mobile technologies have begun governing how Americans interact. Rather than simply use a land-line phone or send handwritten letters, we communicate using devices no bigger than our hands.

    “Mobile technologies govern how Americans interact.” Why do you need “have begun… ing?” Because the phenomenon has only started? It is not that prevalent yet? Why are you afraid to say what you want to say? Texting is governing how we interact. Period.

    Now we communicate with devices no bigger than our hands. As opposed to land-line phones and handwritten letters that were bigger than our heads? You set up a contrast there, but do not complete it.

    “Smartphones and texting have changed how American teenagers interact. They have little to no experience with either landline telephones or handwritten letters. They communicate wirelessly and instantly.”

    That is an effective contrast.

    The Devil’s Advocate is about making an argument and writing in drafts. Writing a counter argument before you write your argument is the practice of lawyers. They ask how will the opposition come at me. They prepare. You wrote a better essay against texting once you wrote your essay promoting texting to introverts.

    A lot of writing is rewriting and reinventing drafts. Some first drafts are just looking for a thesis. I find a lot of great theses and ideas buried in the last paragraphs of student work. Some drafts are just a sentence written thirty ways looking for the right words.

    When you rewrite, pull out your best sentences and ideas, elaborate where you should have, and eliminate clutter and repetition.

    I appreciate your hard work on research and citing the ideas of others as you build on them. I use the How-To assignment to suggest another way to improve your articles and posts. Think of an essay as sharing your train of thought. It is a lesson for the reader in How-To think as you do.

    Take them step-by-step through the major arguments and counter-arguments of your ideas. Don’t repeat yourself and don’t skip anything. Make your point with your examples one at a time, paragraph by paragraph. Start with your thesis and end with a recap.

    And have friends, family, or fellow writers read your material for errors…

    If this says anything about our priority list as consumers, it’s that we’re become unhealthily obsessed with our mobile phones.

    It is so important when you want to communicate.

    • Thanks, professor. I appreciate the feedback. With each assignment, I find myself eliminating more and more clutter. It’s eye-opening to see how much of my previous work was cluttered with unnecessary words. This clutter really does nothing but distract the reader from your message. It’s still a struggle for me, but with each blog post, it’s getting easier. Breaking down each sentence by themselves and closely analyzing has worked best for me. Also, nothing where three words can be condensed to one is quite helpful. Thanks again. I will continue to work on this!

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