Journalism Next from Manatee High School: The pros and cons of texting

Texting: A teen's best friend

Special to the HeraldFebruary 25, 2013 

These days, a cell phone is a teen's right-hand man. You can see teenagers walking down the street, shopping, going to school, hanging out with friends, all with their phones in their hands. Teens are texting more than 100 times a day, according to The Pew Research Center.

Texting can bring convenience to communication amongst teens. Text messaging was invented in 1992 by Matti Makkonen. Though it was invented for other technological purposes it claimed a new purpose in social interaction and took a liking to the younger crowd.

Texting has become a large outlet for communication in teenagers. The Pew Research Center's studies have shown that 88 percent of teenage cell phone owners text.

"It's not a major factor in my life but it helps me contact people I otherwise couldn't," said Kyle Meggison, a junior.

The Pew Research Center's studies have also shown that 67 percent of teens would rather text than call. While some may agree, others might not:

"I actually like talking on the phone better than texting. I feel like I can actually have a conversation with emotion," Said Shelby Hamby, a sophomore. Texting for teens does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. A successful trend can bring controversies and arguments between two opposing sides.

A rising issue between teens and text messaging is incorporating driving into the mix.

Texting can make you 23 times more likely to crash, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

The combination of teen driving and texting has brought great concern for those in the car and the others sharing the street.

"It's stupid to text while driving and I know I feel uncomfortable and unsafe in a car with a driver who is texting and driving. That can wait until a pit stop," said Hamby

A study conducted by the University of Michigan found that 26 percent of teens confessed to texting when driving, while 1 percent of parents had no idea their teens were doing this. Laws against texting while driving have long been a debate.

One of those being whether these laws to pertain to all drivers or only novice drivers. While there is no ban on texting for any age group in Florida yet, there has been discussion recently and it is closer now than ever. Five distracted driving bills have been issued for the legislative session planned in March.

Sometimes texting while driving can quickly turn into tragedy. In 2012, a teen in Massachusetts was charged with vehicle homicide linked to texting after a fatal crash involving another man. He was sentenced to one year in jail and three years probation along with revocation of his license for 15 years. Last summer, another teen was charged with motor vehicle homicide, sending or receiving electronic messages while operating a motor vehicle and a marked lanes violation after crossing the wrong side of the road and killing a man on a motorcycle.

The popularity of text messaging has risen so quickly, health experts are not able to accurately identify the health effects of teenagers as a result of texting. Psychologists and physicians are still worried about negative effects in adolescents.

Texting can cause distractions in school, sleep deprivation and anxiety according to these experts. "You hear that these kids are responding to texts late at night. That's going to cause sleep issues in an age group that's already plagued with sleep issues," said Dr. Martin Joffe, a pediatrician in California.

Texting is loved by teens and a cause of worry for some but its rising popularity is not to be mistaken. Teens love the convenience and accessibility. While some choose to use it wisely, others have witnessed the dangers. A new age has come to communication whereas years ago it was limited. Today, a new outlet of communication brings new opportunities and possibly precaution.

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