Addicted to text messaging - part 2

Addicted to text messaging - part 2

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Marc Giauque reportingThere's a lot of debate over whether one can become addicted to text messaging or instant messaging. But family therapists do see some potential troubles involving the text messaging trend.

In part two of our series, "Addicted to Text Messaging," we learn more about what they're saying.

Can it really become an addiction, or is text messaging a harmless, even a productive way to communicate?

"I would say it's just a way of communicating. It's like the telephone, like when it was first invented," said 16-year-old Britney Ball. She says she's sent and received up to 600 texts in a day. At 30 seconds each, that adds up to five hours.

For businessman Dave Politis, text messaing is a tool with some potential hazards.

"The first reaction when I feel it buzz or when I hear a beep, beep, beep, beep is to pick it up and see who sent me a text message, who's the e-mail from, who's the phone call from? And if I'm talking to a member of my family or to a client, that's a challenge," he said.

Politis draws a line.

"If you and I are talking, and I say, ‘Excuse me, I need to take this,' I've just told you, the person I'm talking to, that the message I'm looking at is more important than you are."

Dr. Doug Goldsmith of the Children's Center agrees.

"If it's interfering with that relationship in front of you, it's a problem. I don't care what we call it," he says.

He has a bit of trouble calling it an addiction.

"I don't think we need to pathologize it," he said.

Goldsmith says the drawback is the idea that it's out of our control. In the world of text messaging, he thinks that's rare, but he does see other problems.

"Many are arguing that it's dropped our coping skills and our problem-solving skills, because now I can go to the grocery store and instead of thinking through, ‘Huh, do we use this product or that product, what size does she mean?' Pick up the cell phone; you call home and say, ‘What did you want me to do?'"

Then there's communication. Politis sees problems there.

"You can't hear their facial expressions. You can't hear the tone of their voice. You cannot convey meaning," he explained.

"Texting is lousy communication. What we're doing is texting each other in sound-bytes. And that's not a good way to share with you my feelings and share with you my deepest emotions," he said.

Goldsmith, who deals with plenty of communication problems in families, is concerned it will get worse. As he puts it, there are some great things about text messaging and our digital age, and some lousy things.


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