The days of using a cellphone exclusively for voice calls are long gone when it comes to the teen generation. For these teens, cellphones are for texting, and texting they do -- sometimes at the expense of their thumbs and fingers, which eventually develop cramps. Despite this painful disadvantage, it is rare to see a teen without a cellphone in her hands. In fact, as the list of texting disadvantages increases, so does the amount of time teens spend on their cellphones.
American teens are losing sleep over texting. In fact, a study conducted by Pew Research Center revealed that approximately four out of five teens fall asleep with their cellphone in their hands -- mid conversation. These hyper-texters also answer texts in the middle of the night, several nights a week. Teens who text during the night deprive themselves of rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep, which is critical to short- and long-term memory. All of this nocturnal texting amounts to approximately two hours of lost sleep per night, leaving many of these texting teens exhausted during the school day.
Texting in class is a growing problem among teens in school. The time spent texting takes away from the learning experience as teen focus turns from academics to social life. Of course, the disadvantage here is poor academics. The Kentucky Department of Education website reveals that instructors are cracking down in the classroom by confiscating the disruptive cellphones. Teens caught sending messages during tests face even stiffer consequences -- phone confiscation and a zero on the test.
While teens pass the time texting away, they are missing out on true thinking. Idle thinking is time for the brain to reflect aimlessly on the things that affect everyday life. Constantly barraged with text messages, the teen mind has little time to wonder. As the Yale Law School website explains, the world is a busy place and limited time is available for freethinking. Teens who text are at a disadvantage, exchanging the little time they have to just sit and daydream for a screen full of electronic conversation.
Texting has a language of its own, and teens are blending this electronic lingo into their everyday language. Hence, the English language is evolving, and if you are not part of the texting crowd, you may not understand what these teens are saying. That is, if they are saying anything at all. For many teens, texting appears to replace one-on-one conversation. The State of Wisconsin Department of Administration’s website explains that texting puts the sender and the receiver at a disadvantage when messages are misunderstood. Without facial expressions and body gestures, communication can take on a different meaning. Unfortunately, the anonymity of texting also leaves teens susceptible to cyberbullying, since text messaging gives teens the opportunity to say things to one another without the discomfort of face-to-face conflict.
- Phillips Academy Andover: Connected, Exhausted
- Kentucky Department of Education: Article 1: Should Schools Allow Cell Phone Use During the School Day?
- Yale Law School: Text a Little Less and Think a Little More -- A Commentary by Stephen L. Carter ’79
- State of Wisconsin Department of Administration: Texting
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