NYT: Texting may be injuring kids

| May 28, 2009

According to The New York Times, the proliferation of texting among teenagers "is beginning to worry physicians and psychologists." I thought they were referring to the recent explosion of 'sexting? incidents in the media, but these medical professionals were talking about stuff that was far more mundane ? and even more likely to put parents into nagging mode.

The doctors apparently are concerned that all of that the messaging induces anxiety, distraction in school, falling grades, sleep deprivation, and repetitive stress injuries.

For many parents, when they hear about teens sending around naked pics, it inspires a serious talk. Maybe some a mandatory viewing of some sort of afterschool special. Or, if the kids are lucky, a case of denial, å la ?MY daughter would never do that.? But with this kind of fear mongering, it just gives another reason for moms and dads across America to freak out about their kids? texting behavior.

Don't get me wrong ? In some ridiculously extreme cases, texting probably could be detrimental to people (not just kids). But, come on! It always seems like the establishment freaks out a little whenever something new arrives on the scene. It happened with rock and roll. (Fer cryin? out loud, it happened with The Waltz a couple hundred years ago. Here's your history lesson: Back then, the squares were upset because couples actually had to embrace each other to do the steps. They thought it was dirty and unseemly.) It also happened at the advent of TV, as well as the personal computer.

Now it's texting's turn, I guess.

If I were a parent, I?d probably be more concerned about my kid's social skills waning. I recently saw a couple of kids texting on a park bench in New York City. What's scary is that they were sitting right next to each other and texting ? well, each other.

As far as the article goes, there was one point I was actually intrigued by this part:

Psychologists expect to see teenagers break free from their parents as they grow into autonomous adults, Professor Turkle went on, ?but if technology makes something like staying in touch very, very easy, that's harder to do; now you have adolescents who are texting their mothers 15 times a day, asking things like, ?Should I get the red shoes or the blue shoes?? ?

Really? I posted this item about a kid who texted 14,528 messages, and I bet most of them weren't to her father. (She's limited to 5,000 messages a month now, poor thing.)

This NYT passage above suggests that the new apron strings between kids and parents is made of texts. I find it hard to believe, but hey ? I've seen stranger things. What do you think? Are kids actually staying in touch with parents too much?

[The New York Times via TechDirt]