Should I hit the send button on that text?

The Weal ― LifestylesWith text messaging dominating the lives of today’s youth, parents and other elders often look upon it as a plague in the 21st century.

Dr. Beatrice Breitling, relationship expert at The Aquarian Therapist, said while the use of cell phones, especially texting, tends to act as a means to help young people get a sense of connection and belonging with their peer groups, it also tends to move them away from family and other close-ones. This is because to a young mind, the peer group gains much more importance for socializing and belonging, and a lack of friends can lead to isolation, Breitling said, thus making them hooked on this source of communication.

However, for a source of communication that often deviates from classic English, Breitling said texting can have grave consequences on the ability to read, comprehend and critically examine serious texts such as literature, scientific treatises and the like, thus creating the potential to make the youth of today bad communicators.

“Texting language is fast becoming a lingo of its own that only those of the in-group can understand,” Breitling said. “It therefore keeps the youth trapped in mainstream thinking and susceptible to influence and manipulation.”

While some people feel strongly opposed to the idea of communicating through text messaging, there also some who believe that texting can act as a medium to improve relationships.

Registered psychologist, Patrick Keelan, said in most instances, texting has had a positive effect on the relationships of clients with whom he has worked. It has done so by making it easier for couples to communicate with each other during the day because many times when couples are too busy to meet or even have a phone conversation, they can still exchange affectionate messages toward each other through texting, Keelan said.

“Research indicates that it is very effective at allowing couples to engage in self-disclosure about their thoughts and feelings which enhances intimacy and closeness,” Keelan said. “Also, I feel texting also has the advantage of being a private form of communication between the two texting parties.”

Despite the good effects of texting on a relationship, according to Keelan, a relationship can suffer if it is done in excess. For example, when couples exchange heated messages in an argument by text, it is often better for each partner to express their negative sentiments in a face-to-face manner than trying to do so over a text message, Keelan said. The fact that the two people are not right in front of each other can sometimes lead to a lengthy exchange of negative messages.

Richard Marshall, first-year civil engineering student, said texting has never had an effect on his relationships, but only conveyed what he actually felt about the person.

“If I’m happy with someone, I won’t type out a text that conveys that I’m unhappy,” Marsall said. “Similarly, if someone disappoints me, then whether I convey those feelings over a text or in person, my disappointment won’t be hidden.”

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