Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The next health issue - text thumb?

Some of us just can't stop communicating. The simplest form of digital communication is of course good old SMS or texting. It's really a primitive service of max 140 characters that was included in second generation cellphones to enable the telecom operator to tell you that you had a voice mail message waiting. However teenagers in particular discovered that it was cheaper to text a message than to make a phone call and the rest is history. Today modern cellphones can send all sorts of multimedia messages but the good old text is still going strong and now has a trendy cousin in the shape of Twitter (also 140 characters).

In the health section of the New York Times there's an article about many teenagers' addiction to texting, Texting may be taking a toll. It claims that the average American teenager sends and receives 2,270 texts per day and that the communication often goes on all through the night. One extreme case is given of a girl who was clocked at an incredible 24,000 texts in a month. Concerns for the health of our young are of course voiced, in particluar the problem of constantly waking up at night to check and answer the latest messages. Not to mention the danger of a new health risk - text thumb, the modern equivalent of tennis elbow or mouse arm.

Is this just another media scare on the dangers of modern technology? It's really about people wanting to communicate but in some cases it can become obsessive. Is obsessive texting worse that obsessive reading or TV viewing? Many people can read a book non-stop for hours or even days and that is seen as a healthy interest in literature. Everything in moderation. It would be really interesting if there was some real research in this area because without that we can only speculate.

1 comment: