June 19, 2013
Written by Joe Pisani
Wednesday, 17 November 2010 12:33
I read a terrifying statistic recently. It wasn’t the national rate for violent crime or the number of foreclosures nationwide or the projected costs for health care as Baby Boomers enter their senior years. And it had nothing to do with the notorious obesity epidemic.
It was more horrifying: The average American teenager sends 3,339 text-messages a month, or about six an hour. Since they spend so much time fingering their phones, I have to wonder when they do important things like cleaning their bedrooms, blow-drying their hair and playing video games, not to mention enlightening activities like algebra homework and watching “The Jersey Shore.”
These kids, who are part of the so-called “Millennial Generation,” define themselves by their technological savvy, and according to one disturbing study, they love their cell phones so much they consider losing them worse than losing an internal organ.
Most adults have trouble finding the “delete” key on the computer, but teenagers are experts at multitasking, which means to say they can send out rapid-fire text-messages even while listening to Lady Gaga on their iPods and playing with their Wii Samurai Warriors.
Among teenagers, 13 to 17, text-messaging is more popular than voice calls, with 22 percent saying it’s easier and 20 percent saying it’s faster, according to Nielsen Co. research.
Teenagers are so wedded to their smart-phones they keep them by the bed for late-night messages and reach for them first thing in the morning. A study conducted by JFK Medical Center found that teens send out about 34 texts a night — or 3400 a month — even up to four hours after they go to bed.
Some experts have suggested the proliferation of texting is hurting language skills of young people, and an estimated half of the teenagers who stay awake playing with electronic media suffer from learning difficulties, depression and attention deficit disorder.
Of course, habitual behavior isn’t limited to teenagers. On the train platform every morning, I see dozens of commuters staring hypnotically at their smart-phones like robots, and somehow I have to believe that instead of enhancing our lives, technology is diminishing them.
While I was driving through the White Mountains recently with my daughter, one of her friends sat in the back seat with her eyes glued to an iPhone. As we passed forests and mountains ablaze in autumn colors, I watched the young woman in the rear-view mirror. She didn’t look up once. I suppose if you’ve seen one mountain, you’ve seen them all, but can anything on that device compare to so much natural beauty?
During dinner recently, my daughters put their BlackBerries beside them on the table like gunslingers taking off their Colt 45s. As we passed around the salad, mashed potatoes and steak, their phones kept pinging with incoming texts until it became so annoying I shouted, “Shut off those #$!*@#! phones so we can eat in peace! Take them off the table. No text-messaging. Let’s argue instead. I love to argue!”
At least arguing is face-to-face communication, and you don’t have to use your fingers.
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