By Jeff Wilson, APR (@wilson0507)
I admit it. I’m slow to embrace change. The older I get, the more that seems to be true.
Case in point, text messaging. I text. Not because I particularly like it. It’s out of necessity. I have friends and family who refuse to pick up the phone to talk, yet will respond to text messages almost instantaneously.
Which makes me wonder, is the old-fashioned phone call becoming a dinosaur?
Not yet, but it could be heading that way.
Not surprising, young adults are the biggest “texters.” The study states that cell phone owners between 18 and 24 exchange an average of 110 text messages a day, which works out to more than 3,200 texts in a given month.
Free Texting Coming to a Phone Near You
The one drawback to text messaging has been price, with wireless carriers still charging up to 20 cents to send a text message and another 20 cents to receive it. But even that could soon become a thing of the past.
“There are now a growing number of ways to bypass text-message charges using an Internet connection — much as Skype allows people to make calls without relying on a traditional telephone line. If these services catch on in a big way, analysts say, they could take a big bite out of the profits that text messages generate for wireless carriers,” The New York Times reports.
The launch of Apple’s new iMessage will allow iPhone users to send messages with text, photos and video to other iPhone owners over a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection. The service, part of an update to Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, will automatically handle messages sent between iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users who have upgraded to the latest software free of charge.
The Apple Insider calls iMessage Apple’s answer to the popular Blackberry Messenger (BBM) application that allows BlackBerry users to instant message each other.
Samsung and Google also are reportedly working on similar services that would allow Android users to communicate via free messages instead of pricier SMS texts. Meanwhile, Microsoft is said to be readying its own instant messaging system for the Windows Phone platform, according to Apple Insider.
The Pitfalls of Texting
While the ability to text more without added charges is a good thing, we should still remember the pitfalls of texting.
Texting – or emailing – while driving slows reaction time and makes drivers more likely to miss a flashing light, according to new research from Texas A&M University’s Texas Transportation Institute.
In the study, 42 drivers between the ages of 16 and 54 drove on an 11-mile test course while sending or receiving text messages, and again while focusing completely on the road. The researchers asked the drivers to stop when they saw a flashing yellow light and recorded their reaction time.
The typical reaction time without texting was between one and two seconds, but while texting it increased to three to four seconds, regardless of whether the driver was typing or reading a text. The researchers also found that a texting driver was 11 times more likely to miss the flashing light.
The Loss of Interpersonal Connections
Don’t get me wrong. Texting is good. It’s convenient. And it isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
But I do wonder about this upcoming generation of kids I see with heads down and fingers feverishly texting away almost constantly.
Are they losing some interpersonal communications skills? If so, how will this impact them in the future, particularly in the workplace?
Only time will tell.