March 9, 2011

Texting + Teens = Awkward

Filed under: Cell Phones — publicandprivatespace @ 9:10 pm

Julie Whalen

         Cell phones have taken over by storm in the past ten years, especially amongst teenagers.  Almost all teens have a mobile phone, and studies show that almost all teens use SMS messaging on their mobile phones more than they actually use them for talking.  Teens use texting more because texting is easier and faster than having an entire conversation with someone.  But talking is important!  Verbal communication is key to a teen’s development.

          According to a study done by Donna and Frasier Reid, people who usually text on cell phones are significantly more lonely and anxious in social situations than people who usually talk on their cell phones.  Texting lets teens carefully weigh different responses before deciding exactly what they want to say.  It is a stress-free form of communication.  So when they are face-to-face with someone and don’t have time to think through what they want to say they turn into shy, awkward, uncomfortable people.  SMS messages are a safety net, and teens can feel lost without it.  For example, I recently reconnected with a friend I haven’t seen in twelve years on my college’s campus.  We didn’t have time to chat, so we exchanged numbers and text each other later instead.  While that was easy and pleasant, when we actually met up for lunch the conversation was stilted and awkward.  Without texting and the time it gave us to think we didn’t know what to say.

            Naomi Baron agrees with this.  Her research showed a correlation between cell phones and mental distress.  This distress led to problems with their relationships with friends and family.  Texting causes miscommunications too, because SMS messages lack any kind of tone, body language, or facial expression.  Because of this, messages can easily be taken the wrong way, which could wreak havoc on any relationship. 

            Another way texting is harmful to a teenager’s socialization is that it pressures teens to always be instantly available, because if they wait too long to answer a message they seem rude.  Being able to be constantly reached really takes away from a teen’s independence.  The constant availability keeps teens from escaping situations they need to get away from.  For example, when my sister was fighting with her boyfriend, all she wanted was some time alone to relax and think, but because they both had cell phones she couldn’t escape the fight.  Her boyfriend kept texting and calling her, denying her a chance to calm down.  This destroyed their relationship and they never managed to fix it.  Too much talking can be just as bad as not enough, and cell phones enable too much talking.

                Too much texting spells disaster for any teenager’s relationship.  Teens need to forget the keyboard and start talking, really talking, to each other.  Good communication skills are crucial to develop at this time in a person’s life, so teenagers should be encouraged to hang out with their peers in safe social environments.  That is what will help improve teens’ social lives, pull them out of the world of technology, and bring them back to reality.



  1. I really like your view on this topic. I have never really thought about how texting gives us the extra time to think about exactly what we want to say and whether or not we should include certain “faces” with our responses. This extra time doesn’t help us communicate better but rather think of what we want the other person to hear rather than say what we really want to say. I also can see how texting can ruin relationships. If a couple texts all day and then see each other that night, what do they have to talk about? This would make a date awkward and unpleasant and could ultimately keep people apart. There needs to be a balance between texting and talking in person. I also think people start to text when they are out in public alone because if they don’t have their phone in their hands like everyone else then they become less cool. However, I think that making people our age realize that they don’t need to text so much is probably impossible. And I only see it getting worse as time goes on.

    —–Malynda Messer

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 9, 2011 @ 9:20 pm | Reply

  2. By Joe Haas

    Thank you for writing about this topic. I wholeheartedly agree with everything that you wrote. It has been my experience that texting is the wimpy, non confrontational means of communication. People never have to see body language (which is 90% of communication) or the reaction that someone has to a comment. Although a text may be quick and easy, it is extremely impotent. It lacks the emotions, the expressions, and the tones which are all essential to interpersonal communication. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone texts instead of contributing a conversation. It sends a strong message that the texting individual would rather be somewhere else with someone else. I’ve noticed that using textual communication has seriously decayed individual’s ability to hold a decent conversation.

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 10, 2011 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

  3. I completely agree with this. People under the age of thirty have all grown up in the technological revolution. Cell phones these days are becoming people’s crutches. It’s like if our cell phones die or break we don’t know what to do. I can see how people can be used to talking through text and become awkward and uncomfortable around people when talking in person. It’s critical that teens grown up and learn how to socialize because of the high importance it has on life in their future. Job interviews, relationships, and other social situations are important situations that teens need to know how to communicate for. It’s gotten to the point where people rely on other people to have their cell phones on them at all times. Everyone gets socially pressured into having their cell phones attached at the hip and get reprimanded if they don’t. Teens need to know how to socialize and communicate without their cell phone.
    -Brooke Teaford-

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 10, 2011 @ 7:44 pm | Reply


    I pretty much agree with everything you wrote in this post. Texting has taken over teenagers’ worlds, and it has serious consequences. My friend’s brother who is ten years old has even began to text, and it is ridiculous. This is not good for society or the teens’ lives. People definately need to start talking instead of texting. I have had many occasions when I have sent a text message, and the person who recieved it got the wrong idea from what I was saying. This led to a fight and could have been avoided if we were talking. As Brooke said, soon these teens will have important events coming up in life like a job interview. A person cannot text the interviewer. People need to learn to socialize and have real talking conversations with people.

    On the other side, I do believe that there is a proper time to text. I feel that this time is when a conversation is not needed. If a person is extremely busy and needs to ask someone else a real simple question, there is no need to call them. This is a perfect time to text. The person gets the answer real quick without even having to stop what he or she was doing.

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 12:38 am | Reply

  5. I love the fact that you brought up the developing social awkwardness of today’s society. I can relate to your statement about being able to make decisions while texting that you normally couldn’t make while holding a conversation with a person. I also would like to point out that our generation has become completely dependent on this form of communication. Just from observations around campus, I believe that a majority of teens and young adults would rather text on their phones than hold a conversation with someone they haven’t met yet. I find this very disturbing because I believe being able to approach and communicate with people is a very important skill to have; partly because I lacked it for the first 16 years of my life. I also completely agree that texting adds stress due to miscommunications that occur on a daily basis via text. Teens have also developed a certain obsession with their phones. We are always checking them because we feel obligated to be accessible at all times. I believe our society is going to become more and more socially awkward due to the use of cell phones.

    -Scott Smith

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 2:44 am | Reply

  6. By:Kirsten Kipp
    I agree with the comments that you made and think it’s interesting you brought this up because I feel it’s a great concern in our society today. We always rely on texting someone rather than calling them, even though calling them would probably go faster. By doing this we are serparating ourselves from the social interactions with people. If we keep this up nobody will ever talk to each other face to face anymore because they think texting is easier. But if we do come in contact with people we will not know how to act because we do not social interact that much. When you text someone you can take you time and come up with a response to their comment but in real life you just say what comes out of your mouth first. Texting like this could make us socially inept at some point so I believe the texting should be kept to a minimum and if you have the time to call someone do so because it will only strengthen your relationship.

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 11:09 am | Reply

  7. By: Kyle Gooding
    I agree with this post. Texting has taken away our ability to communicate with people on the spot. Through our phones we are able to look at someone’s response and then plan our next witty saying. It takes away people’s ability to think on the run and have real time conversations with others. Having cell phones is definitely a good thing in many cases, as far as getting a hold of loved ones or staying safe, but it has become a crutch without which we cannot stand. A big problem I think going on today is that younger and younger kids are being given cell phones. This would completely undercut their development as humans who are expected to think on their feet. No I do not think cell phones are the devil, but I do think they should be used in moderation and should never be a replacement for human contact. We should use our phones to call others and have a conversation with them, and perhaps set up a plan for later where real conversation will take place.

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

  8. I found this article to be extremely interesting, mainly because my paper dealt with the very same type of information. However, I felt the opposite about how texting affects relationships. As I did some of my research (and through some personal experiences that myself and other people have had) I was able to find that texting does provide its benefits. For example, getting that good morning text or some other sort of flattering text can really change your mood and brighten your day. Obviously, it can go both ways and you could get the negative text that ruins the day. Nonetheless, I feel like texting does have its strong points and when used IN CONJUNCTION WITH face-to-face communication can really add to the relationship.
    I believe that texting has also contributed largely to the “talking” phase that most teenagers go through. And why is this negative? It allows us to test the waters before we know whether or not we want to make a serious commitment to this person. For someone who is shy, this is perfect because they are now allowed an opportunity to have a conversation with somebody without the anxiety of having to talk to a complete stranger. I agree with the points above which say that actually talking is important and obviously this has to be incorporated for a relationship to really take off. I also believe however, that texting provides an excellent stepping stone and that to overlook its benefits would be a grievous error.

    -Will Paton

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 2:20 pm | Reply

  9. I completely agree with the arguments made in this post about texting. Texting is causing more people to become awkward in social situations. It is easier to be charming and funny in a text when you have time to think about exactly what you want to say, but it is much harder to have those same skills in social situations. If a person feels awkward in a situation they are even able to escape it through texting. I have seen many people in awkward situations start texting their other friends to appear social or popular when in reality they start texting because they feel uncomfortable and awkward. I also agree that texting does allow too much talking time especially if you are in a fight with someone. It does not allow the escape and calm down time you would usually have if you had this fight in person. I believe that overall texting is a great device to get in contact with people, but it should not replace in person conversations and situations because everyone need more then technological interaction.
    -Liz Boeckman

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 3:04 pm | Reply

  10. Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 3:12 pm | Reply

  11. This blog brought up some pretty good points about teens and texting. I agree that cell phones are taking away from the traditional person to person communication. I am not quite sure if texting would make kids socially awkward but your claims are pretty possible. Teens need to communicate in person with people. Cell phones take away from something that is part of being an adult. In most careers people are going to have to talk to people directly and cell phones are taking away some of the experience of talking to people in person. Teens can not develop communication skills if they are always texting and as mentioned in the blog you can’t always say what you want or how you want to say it through a text. I think that getting away from your phone for a little while and talking more in person would be good for anyone to do.

    Comment By: Kyle Staskey

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 3:12 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: