Texting & Its Dangers or Consequencesby Hans Fredrick
According to an article in The Guardian, more than eight trillion text messages were sent worldwide during 2012. Text messaging is entrenched as one of the primary means of communication in our society. However, it is not without its drawbacks. People who send text messages too often, or at inappropriate times, may be faced with dangers and consequences that range from data security to personal safety issues.
Texting While Driving
Texting while driving considerably increases the risk of being involved in a collision. The Center for Disease Control states that texting is a particularly dangerous form of distracted driving because it affects the driver in three distinct ways. It requires the driver's eyes to be off the road, requires the use of the hands, and focuses the attention of the driver somewhere other than on the task of driving. Lawmakers have seen the risks of this behavior, and enacted bans on text messaging in 39 states.
The human brain is not equipped to multitask well, and text messaging requires such an amount of attention that it can make people oblivious to the dangers around them. This extends to activities beyond driving. An article in the New York Times in 2008 discussed how emergency room doctors had noticed a rise in the number of injuries and accidents where texting was a factor. The trend was so noticeable that a group representing the doctors issued a warning about the dangers of texting while doing other activities. These injuries included incidents as avoidable as people walking out into traffic because their attention was focused on a phone instead of on their surroundings.
Personal communication, whether professional or personal, is a highly nuanced art. Text messaging often leads to miscommunication because it is impossible to convey all of the complexity of face to face communication via a short text. According to Dr. Randi Gunther in Psychology Today, intonation, facial expressions, and body language all play a key role in communication. When these elements are absent from the communication equation, misunderstandings arise and lead to further problems down the road.
According to a 2012 story in the New York Times, the more closely smartphones resemble computers in their functionality, the more easily they can be hacked. Therefore, it is possible that any text messages sent through your phone could be intercepted and read. This poses a data security risk, and raises the question about what types of information should be communicated via text messages. Employees should refrain from texting about any protected information within a company, especially if there is any reason to believe that phones could be compromised. To help avoid installing malware which could allow a hacker to read your text messages, you should only install apps that have been developed or approved by trusted companies
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: Map of Texting Bans
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Distracted Driving
- The New York Times: As Text Messages Fly, Danger Lurks
- Psychology Today: Can Text Messages Damage Intimate Communication?
- The New York Times: Build Up Your Phone's Defenses Against Hackers
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images