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Psychological Effects of Texting vs. Voice Call

Do kids and/or adults know how to communicate? Is the art of conversation dead? Is there a generation of children who do not know how to interact normally?  In a study by psychologist Katelyn McKenna, she divides mobile users into two main categories based on their habits: Texters (those, who prefer texting) and Talkers (those who prefer talking on their mobiles).

Turns out there's a clear distinction between Texters and Talkers: Texters seem to form close-knit "text circles" with their own social ecology, and interconnect within a close group of friends using text contact. As the study points out, Texters seem to be more lonely and socially anxious, and more likely to open up their "real self" in text rather than in face-to-face chat or voice calls.

The study found that Texters were likely to have smaller social networks compared to those who did not text. Texters seem to turn to texting to form and maintain relationships in a relatively safe environment, as it permits visual anonymity, and its asynchronous nature allows for editing and self-reflection.

Americans aged 18–29 send and receive an average of roughly 88 text messages on a daily basis, compared to only 17 voice calls. The numbers change as we get older, but the overall frequency of communication drops. Even with the 65-and-over group, the Time mobility poll has found texting still edges out calls 4.7 to 3.8, an interesting position. An interesting highlight of the poll is that 32% of those surveyed preferred texting over voice calls, even with people they know very well. This is even truer when it comes to colleagues.

MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle, a leading researcher analyzing the effect of texting on interpersonal development, has found that part of the appeal of texting in situations such as an apology is pain. It's less painful to type "I'm sorry" and then hit send, than facing the recipient in person.

But the most alarming thing is that texting has an undesired effect on teens. Turkle points to the cases she faced when saying, "I talk to kids, and they describe their fear of conversation. An 18-year-old I interviewed recently said, 'Someday, but certainly not now, I want to learn to have a conversation.'"

Text messaging has also become a primary medium used in romantic and sexual correspondence. As a result, texting has deteriorated earlier forms of relational communication such as the written word. While it is possible to develop and maintain a romantic relationship, it may also create a potential strain.

Since for teens texting is the favorite method of communication, the risks of unmonitored texting is high. Considering teenagers are the most fragile emotionally, a text message containing romantic or maybe explicit content that gets into the hands of the wrong person could harm the child's reputation and deepen his or her loneliness. A healthy balance can be obtained through a text-monitoring application that allows the parent to act before the harm is done.  The ControlMobile application can help a parent review the text messages that a child is sending/receiving and monitor this information in case of inappropriate behavior.

Parents must communicate the effects of relying on texting as the only medium for teens. By monitoring their teens text messages they will be able to observe their child's development or if there are any outside dangers that may exist.  Parents need to set some boundaries concerning phone use.  During meals, ban the use of phones so there is time to speak with your children and ask questions regarding school, friends, and social activities.  With the explosion of texting, the normal form of speech communication has disappeared and needs to be reestablished in families today.

Visit www.ControlMobile.com for more information about monitoring your child's smartphone. ControlMobile supports Android and Blackberry devices on any carrier and iPhones only on AT&T. ControlMobile is only for monitoring, we do not condone spying in any form.

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