Categories
Adolescence Bullying Parenting Prevention Safety

What You Need to Know About Text Bombing

are you really laughing out loud?
are you really laughing out loud? (Photo credit: MrPessimist)

The concept behind text bombing is to save time: you can send mass texts out to multiple people telling them where to meet you, et cetera. Ultimately, it was designed to be a cheap tool for efficiency. According to this latest from Huffington Post,  text bombing is the latest technological tool used by cyberbullies to go after their victims. The sender can be anonymous and the apps can be programmed to auto-send persistent, negative messages. Text bombing someone means you are sending 1000-10000 text messages to the same person in the same day, and it can go from being simply annoying to cruel. In the banal sense, one could look at text bombing as the equivalent of crank calling someone. Unfortunately, in the wrong hands, text bombing has sinister underpinnings.

 

Imagine repeatedly receiving a text message saying, “die” or “no one likes you,” in the same day.  The victim of the text bomb has to endure receiving the same hateful and/or degrading message time and time again, experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety, and even depression. Unless you have a means of blocking the text messages, there’s really no way to stop the barrage of hate. You are in a relentless technological loupe.

 

Alas, you can protect yourself!  You can download one of these spam-blocking apps, which allow you to block numbers and texts from coming in:

 

For the Android, you can use Text Bomb Defender or Anti SMS Bomber Pro.

For the iPhone, you can use NumberCop.

 

Parents, if you are worried that text bombing may be an issue for your child, look for the following:

  • A spike in the phone bill
  • Make sure your child’s phone isn’t rooted. (“Rooting an Android phone means that you give yourself, rather than Sprint/Verizon/T-Mobile/AT&T’s software, the permission to act as the administrator of the phone. New Android operating system 2.3 and higher only allows 30 SMS — texts — from the same phone at one time. Teens with rooted phones can still send thousands of texts.” – via Internet safety expert Sedgrid Lewis)
Categories
Adolescence Communication Safety

Texting and Driving: It’s Not Worth It

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Texting and Driving: Are you guilty of doing it? Even for a second? To an extent, we all are. Even if it’s at a stoplight, and no one is moving, many of us will check our phones. Gone are the days of “just driving.” We have evolved into a culture of fast-moving, busy, multi-tasking folk, and the importance of checking a text or checking our email or checking social media outlets has consumed us.

 

When we text and drive, we are driving blind for short periods of time.  According to this study, “Texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving the length of a football field at 55mph BLINDFOLDED.”

 

The University of Utah did a study, comparing drivers who are texting and driving versus those drinking and driving and found “Texting while driving is the same as driving after drinking four beers.” That same study also “found that cell phone drivers had slower reactions, had longer following distances, took longer to recover speed lost following a braking episode, and were involved in more accidents. In the case of the cell phone driver, the impairments appear to be attributable, in large part, to the diversion of attention from the processing of information necessary for the safe operation of a motor vehicle (Strayer et al., 2003; Strayer & Johnston, 2001).”

 

One of the things I do like about texting is the fact that it is a form of non-contiguous conversation. It was originally designed as a way of communicating necessary information that didn’t require an immediate result. Times have changed, however, and the need for instant gratification has trumped the original utilitarian modality of the text message. The current generation prefers using text messaging to live conversation. In fact, that is often the primary means of communication.  It’s easy, it’s fast, and it’s non-confrontational. It’s not uncommon for breakups and arguments to occur via text. And with the advent of smart phones, one is afforded less character limitations, so the “text” book has evolved. Texting is so easy that one can do it anywhere and at any time; ironically, the danger is the same: you can do it anywhere and at any time.

 

Let’s make a concerted effort to be more responsible and more aware of our actions and interactions with those around us. We can start with implementing the following actions to stop texting and driving:

Action:

  • Put your phone in the trunk or the glove box when you’re driving.
  • Wait until you are parked to respond our check your phone
  • Let your friends know you won’t be responsive if you’re driving.
  • When you’re not driving, try calling someone instead of texting. Make an effort to make contact beyond your fingertips.

 Notice any changes that may occur:

  • Are you more or less stressed out?
  • Are you more or less aware?
  • Are you less distracted and more engaged with the activity of driving?
  • Are your interactions with others more or less engaged?

 

Next, take the  “It Can Wait” pledge here and make a commitment to stop texting and driving. Encourage your friends to do the same. This is how change happens: one positive decision at a time; eliminating texting and driving is a wonderful step in a positive direction.

 

Watch this trailer for Werner Herzog’s documentary “From One Second to the Next” which documents four lives that have been impacted by texting-related accidents.

https://youtu.be/SCVZqeAGY-A

Categories
Adolescence Communication Prevention Safety

Teens: For Your Safety, Don’t Text and Drive

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Don’t text and drive!” Your parents say it, your teachers say it, the billboards say it, and even some of your friends say it. But you still do it. I’d ask why, but there’s really no logical explanation for it. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t occasionally participate in texting and driving, even though I know it’s dangerous. It’s not a good idea—for any of us. Nothing is so important it can’t wait until you can pull over or until you reach your destination. The fines alone for texting and driving should be enough of a deterrent, right?!

U.S. government research shows “more teen drivers are buckling up and not driving drunk than in years past,” but texting and driving is “posing a new threat.” In fact, according to a research team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “One in three high school students said they had texted or emailed while driving during the past month.” While the decline in drunk driving incidents and the increase in buckle-ups is wonderful news, the texting issue is a deadly problem.

Texting is the primary means of communication for teens: Teens typically send upwards of 100 texts a day. I’ve seen teenagers text each other in the same room! It’s clear that there’s a whole world of communication happening via technology, some good, and in the case of texting and driving, some deadly.  According to Amanda Lenhart, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center in Washington, “A lot of teens say ‘Well, if the car’s not moving and I’m at a stoplight or I’m stuck in traffic, that’s OK.'” Lenhart goes on to say, “Other teens acknowledge they know it’s not safe, but think it is safer if they hold the phone up so they can see the road and text at the same time.” Neither one of these practices is safe.

It’s hopeful that this current generation of teens is exhibiting safer driving behaviors. There are less incidents of drunk driving (from 17% in 1997 to 8% in 2011) and a 44% drop in car crashes amongst teens. This says a lot about kids making healthier choices. I’m hoping to see a positive shift in the choice to text and drive. This is a fad that really needs a short shelf-life.

 

Categories
Communication Stress

Rest Your Thumbs: Communication Without Texting

Oh, technology, how far you’ve come.

When I was a teen, a computer was something only geeks or millionaires had; cell phones were something futuristic and reminiscent of the 80’s show Hart to Hart

and their “fancy” car phones. So when the first phones came on the scene back in 1983, coined The Brick, and weighing in at two pounds with a mere half-hour of talk time, the collective response was amazement. The price tag was hefty, which raised its status, making it all the more desirable and of course, cool. There were even rap songs about the Brick! Realistically, if you had one at that time, they served no other purpose than for social status and of course, “emergency” phone calls. The Brick couldn’t do much more than make a phone call anyway.

In 2012, we now have miniature tools of technological genius, which allow for us to communicate via text messaging, voice, email, and various social-media outlets via a host of apps. What we’ve ended up with are varying forms of non-confrontational and non-contiguous means of communication. This type of communication works for many people, especially when one considers the amount of multi-tasking we do these days. Unfortunately, texting has evolved and become the primary form of communication for many, particularly teens, whose need to stay connected socially is often a key component to their social survival. Let’s face it, it’s far less scary to test the waters of a burgeoning relationship via text than it is in person. The trouble with this is two-fold:  texting lacks sincerity, and it lacks accountability – two things which are crucial in building the bedrock meaningful friendships and relationships are based upon. The non-contiguous factor also has its positives and negatives: you can share a nugget of information that’s not time sensitive, therefore not requiring immediate response. But you can also say things you’d never say in a million years to someone’s face and “walk” away.

This comment, “Words are bullets,” which I once heard in a meeting seems to really ring true in the case of text messages and digital communication. In this sense, a text can be like a virtual Uzi. I’ve experienced this phenomenon myself, where I’ve received a nasty message via text but upon direct confrontation, I was met with sheer nervousness, darting eyes, and denial. What’s concerning is the deterioration of our communication skills, particularly amongst adolescents. As a culture, we’ve gotten lazy when it comes to expressing ourselves, though our thumbs might disagree.

My own goal this year is to minimize the use of texting as a primary form of communication. I’ve been successful thus far, and have experienced more meaningful conversations with people. Try this: put your phone away for a prescribed period of time. If you need to tell someone something, pick up the phone!  You might be amazed how the quality of your ensuing conversations increases. I know I did, and I multi-task with the best of them.