Text messaging is not dangerous, get over it

cell phoneThe people who create violent video games must be breathing a sigh of relief at the moment – text messaging is the new enemy. Increasingly the media has been publishing fluff pieces about the apparent danger that text messaging poses. With news that the train engineer at the centre of the crash in California last week was text messaging at the time of the accident, things are only getting worse for the technology.

Maybe it’s just the natural progression of things – become popular enough and you’ll undoubtedly gain enemies. Text messaging is more popular than ever, with over 75 billion messages sent in the US in the month of June alone. That’s an awful lot of messages! In fact, Nielsen Mobile estimates that more Americans send text messages than make phone calls. I would guess the numbers are similar here in Canada and elsewhere in the world.

Of course, there are no facts that prove text messaging is dangerous:

Though there are no official casualty statistics, there is much anecdotal evidence that the number of fatal accidents stemming from texting while driving, crossing the street or engaging in other activities is on the rise.

โ€œThe act of texting automatically removes 10 I.Q. points,โ€ said Paul Saffo, a technology trend forecaster in Silicon Valley.

I am sure Saffo is completely qualified to make such a statement as a “trend forecaster” so let me make a few statements of my own. I would venture to say that you lose I.Q. points while using the good old fashioned voice functionality of your phone. You probably lose 10 I.Q. points while rocking out to music on your iPod. You undoubtedly lose I.Q. points while stirring your Frappuccino as you cross the street too.

My point is that text messaging is no different than any other distraction. You’ve always got to remember to pay attention to the task at hand.

9 thoughts on “Text messaging is not dangerous, get over it

  1. I personally find text messaging to be amazingly distracting when driving. I do it, but I know how distracted it makes me. The IQ point thing is made up. Anything like that that’s a multiple of 10 or a nice round number is plucked from someones ass.

  2. While I largely agree with you, I’d say that texting while driving is worse than talking on the phone while driving. When you’re talking, at least your eyes are still on the road. When you’re texting, your focus is constantly shifting from the road to the phone.

  3. Adam & Megan:
    I hear what you’re saying, and you’re probably right. At the same time, it’s not uncommon to find someone gabbing on the phone who is completely oblivious to anything else. Just because they have their eyes on the road doesn’t mean they are paying attention!

  4. It’s also entirely possible that the guy is a total douchebag and had his head up his ass, but I’m choosing to blame it on the text messaging. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. There have been an increasing number of car accidents related to text messaging in the UK in recent years, which is why it gets the same offence category as using a mobile phone, which is quite serious.

    I’m not certain whether these are additional distraction-related accident, or just a different distraction. I’d suspect the latter in that if people are easily distracted, this is just the new flavour of distraction.

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