Floyd and Mary Beth Brown

Instead of spending time talking and connecting with their uncle, the kids’ attention was usurped by insidious intruders.

Since he hadn’t seen them in awhile, the man invited his teenage niece and nephew to join him in seeing an action-packed comedy at a movie theater, but he was soon disappointed. He was looking forward to spending time with his brother’s kids, however, instead of talking to him and catching up on each other’s lives, he sat quietly as though he was alone in the theater. Why? Because the two spent their time before, during and after the film sending and responding to text messages on their cell phones.

People busy texting with their fingers flying in almost any situation is not a rare occurrence any more. Go look around public places -- restaurants, classrooms, business meetings, church and you’ll most likely see (and hear) texting. Click, click, click-ity, click.

“I text morning, noon and night, and it adds up to about 3,000 to 5,000 a month. It is bad,” said Nikki Brown.

It’s not unheard of for a parent to get a shocking bill from their cell phone carrier for upwards of $1500 for a month’s worth of texting by their teenage child.

Brooke Smith said, “People can get really addicted to it because you can get away with it when you are not supposed to be. It is a lot more incognito than talking on the phone and you can be in a meeting or in school.”

Whether or not excessive text messaging is an addiction, as Dr. Jerald J. Block proposes in The American Journal of Psychiatry, it is something to be considered. Block points out why he thinks a texting addiction is possible, by using the standard distinct symptoms and indicators of an addiction: excessive use, withdrawal, tolerance (including the need for more hours of texting), poor achievement, and negative repercussions, such as getting into arguments when told not to do it.

More study needs to be done before it can be called an addiction, says psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Wise, but he notes texting can get out of control and interfere with occupational and personal settings.

Dropping grades are one of the consequences of excessive texting according to Dr. Tamyra Pierce, who has done research on the topic. “For years television has been the technology that preoccupied teens’ time and distracted them from their homework. However, with the advancement in technology, teens now have many other gadgets that can keep them from their obligations,” said Pierce. Dr. Block is particularly concerned about people texting while driving a car.

Floyd and Mary Beth Brown

Floyd and Mary Beth Brown are both bestselling authors and speakers. In 1988, working from their kitchen table, they formed Citizens United.
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