Recent studies have shown that most Americans spend at least 8 hours every day with some form of audio-visual media, whether it is the TV, cell phone or computer. While some of that time is work or school related, much more of it is free-time. We communicate, play and do business in a way that would seem other-worldly even as little as ten years ago. According to CBS New York, the average American teen sends 3,000 texts every month. With 80% of teens now owning cell phones, that’s a huge number of texts in a year. In fact, the report states, it is a 600% increase in the past three years.
While all this tech-interaction has obvious benefits, nothing is free. What has the technical revolution cost us?
Social Interaction – We’d rather text than talk. But, like any print medium, texting has no tone of voice, no facial expression and no subtle cues to the ‘real’ meaning behind the words. Was that ‘what do you think’ sarcastic or sincere? Was there anger in the texter’s fingers when he typed it or was he joking? No only are teens and kids who text lacking that input, they’re not learning to use it properly, eliminating that from their bag of communication tricks.
Thumb Strain – While it almost sounds comical, Blackberry thumb is a real problem. This tendonitis sets in and hurts. It’s not permanent, but to recover from it you have to … augh! … stop texting.
Sleep deprivation – It’s 4 a.m., your parents think you’re fast asleep and … you’re texting your best friend about what was said in the cafeteria about the new guy. Teens tend to be night owls, and texting allows them the freedom to keep visiting all night long. But what does that do to their day? Lagging grades, a change in behavior and loss of interest in activities are all signs of kids who are texting too late into the nighttime.
They’re also signs of addiction.
It sounds bizarre, but tests show that texting lights up the same part of the brain as heroin use. It goes straight to the ‘reward’ part of our cerebellum, giving a sense of pleasure and accomplishment. It becomes something we crave, think about and count on. It becomes addictive.
If you decide to lay down your LG, cut free of your computer or terminate your TV, here are a couple of helps to get you started.
Unplug for 30 minutes every day. Put the phone down, turn off the TV and walk away from the computer. Plan an activity to take its place – read, take a walk or toss a ball in the yard.
Don’t take the phone to the table, into the bathtub or to bed. Plug your charger into a socket in the living room or kitchen and use a standard alarm clock to wake up in the morning.
Spend time with people. When you’re with them, talk to them and enjoy their company. Don’t text others except just long enough to tell them you’ll get back to them later.
Technology has opened a lot of doors for us all. Like anything, it has to be kept under control – your control. Manage your time with technology wisely.
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