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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Excessive texting can pose dangerous distractions

Sophomore Mary Simpson is much more interested in her text message than her nutrition. Recently, it was announced that a persons IQ drops 10 points after excessive text messaging. (Ada Stephens)
Sophomore Mary Simpson is much more interested in her text message than her nutrition. Recently, it was announced that a person’s IQ drops 10 points after excessive text messaging. (Ada Stephens)

Texting ferociously, I approached the curb and noticed the feet of others begin to cross the street. Without interrupting my activity I too began to cross, and soon realized it was just a woman and I stepping into traffic. Startled, we leaped back in an attempt to dodge the SUV that had the right of way. Looking at each other we silently agreed that our respective text messages were no longer significant. The convenience of text messaging and other instant messaging devices on phones is pretty evident. It’s succinct and almost thoughtless. Daily “wat-chu-up-to’s” from friends can make any work day more bearable, and costs less than a phone call.

Though simple, texting remains a task, and for those multi-taskers who text while driving, crossing a street, or operating machinery, the danger exceeds the convenience.

Nationwide Insurance recently determined that nearly 40 percent of survey respondents between the ages of 16 and 30 admit to text messaging while driving. This admission is no surprise to emergency room doctors who have noticed an increase in deaths and injuries involving texting.

The recent commuter-train collision that resulted in the deaths of 25 people and injured more than 130 has also been linked to text messaging after the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation learned that the engineer had sent and received texts before the train’s collision with a freight locomotive.

Some would venture to argue that text messaging actually makes you dumber.

“The act of texting automatically removes 10 I.Q. points,” said Paul Saffo, a technology trend forecaster in Silicon Valley to the New York Times. “The truth of the matter is there are hobbies that are incompatible . it is the same with texting and other activities. We have all seen people walk into parking meters or walk into traffic and seem startled by oncoming cars.”

I would argue that text messaging has improved typing and reflex, though I do not enjoy dodging cars.

I do not think that messaging makes us dumber so much as it impairs our judgment.

I praise text messaging for its convenience, but it poses a distraction worse than talking on the phone. Unlike talking on the phone and driving or crossing the street, for most of us text messaging involves focusing on the screen. Regardless of how much attention is devoted to the screen, we’ve become less aware of what’s going on around us.

Lawmakers and service providers are beginning to implement policies to limit distractions posed by text messaging. In California lawmakers are attempting to ban text-messaging by drivers, and Verizon has already developed usage controls in which parents can determine the hours when their children can send and receive texts.

The discreet nature of text messages has made conversing possible even in places that aren’t the most appropriate. Too many of us have stood in line behind someone waiting for them to address the cashier as they remain engrossed in their private conversation.

How about when that flashing light or buzz gets the best of us in class? We look up a few seconds later and realize we’re too far removed from the lesson.

“It’s annoying and distracting listening to other students clicking away at their phones in class,” said junior Darius Askew. “What’s worse is when you’re trying to focus and someone’s phone keeps buzzing. It’s supposed to be discreet but it’s not, it’s annoying.”

As your fellow textually-active schoolmate, I am not advising abstaining from text messaging. However, it seems that we could make a concerted effort to detach ourselves from our phones, temporarily. I’m sure our thumbs wouldn’t mind the rest.

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