Texting Breeds Bad Habits

One of the things I enjoy about texting is the ability to ask a bunch of questions at once and just send them off. If I think of something else before they reply, I simply type it out and send it as well. I don’t have to wait for the first reply to come back before sending the next one and that keeps me from forgetting what I wanted to ask. It may be a dialogue, but more in the form of an email conversation than a face to face one. I mean, I can answer a text while reading or watching television and not worry about offending the person on the other end. I can even do it while sitting on the toilet where having a normal conversation is just annoyingly awkward. Not that that stops people from doing it. That closed door should come with some respect of privacy.

I can also scan through the text and find what I want and ignore the extraneous words that really say the same thing over and over. You can’t do that with a live conversation, even though in your head you’re rolling your eyes and wishing they would just get to the point. I don’t need to know how they reached their answer; I just want the answer.

However, I believe that this has also led to some pretty rude habits when it comes to non-technological interaction with people. We’ve lost some skills that have helped us communicate throughout the ages. Children are raised with this rude behavior ingrained into them and told that the behavior is quite acceptable when it is far from being anything close to that.

There is something in us that demands we answer our phones right away. In the days before cell phones when the phone would ring people raced to answer it. Then teens would stretch the cord as far as it could go to get out of ear shot of nosy parents who wanted to see what was really going on in their love life. When you weren’t at the house, you didn’t worry about the phone. You had a machine that caught messages if the people left them so you never really missed anything. You were just delayed in hearing it.

Now, we take our phones with us. We answer them in restaurants, at checkouts, and in the middle of a face to face conversation. And it’s not just a phone call. We feel that we have to answer text messages, Facebook updates and Twitter tweets. It doesn’t matter what we are doing. When that phone dings, we jump.

It has also taught children to interrupt more because they are used to sending texts in rapid fire succession and not worrying about waiting for a reply before sending another one. It also has taught them that eye contact is not necessary when talking to someone. I hate looking at the top of my child’s head when speaking. We make the 9-year old put the game down, look up, and answer without talking in net speak. LOL is not a proper response or a substitution to authentic laughter. It took me months to learn what SMH meant and by then I was doing more than shaking my head.

Furthermore, it destroys their attention span. It is hard to get them to focus on something for a lengthy period of time because they are so used to quick bursts of communication. The joy of being in a relationship is the long conversations that help you dig into each other’s lives, the time spent knowing someone. Besides, it’s just good manners to put the phone down. Very few things are that important that a text should trump politeness.

I know I’ve ranted on this in similar fashion before, but it never ceases to amaze me how rude people can be because technology has made it possible. Don’t fall into the trap and even more, don’t allow your children to develop bad habits. Put the phones down and enjoy the people around. Make your children interact with others and not hide in their devices. Build relationships and teach your children not to rely on electronics. The time is now to communicate with those you care about. One day you’ll wish you had.

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