No. 754

The next password is apple


Several years ago I remember hearing the late Earl Nightingale say, “We live in America where a person has the right to be just as wrong as he wants to be.” We live in a democracy where we can make a wide range of personal choices, but should enough of us make wrong choices, and seriously begin to infringe on the rights and choices of others, our system of laws kicks in.
This is especially true when too many personal choices lead to the death and injury of a great number of our citizens. A good example is the recent crackdown on drivers of 18-wheel tractor-trailer rigs who were spending too much time texting while driving down the highway. It was reported that many of these drivers were spending three to four uninterrupted seconds at a time, sending text messages, before returning their focus to the highway and driving a massive metal missile that could snuff out multiple lives in a matter of seconds.
Because of the life and death aspect of this problem, and enough drivers were doing it to warrant action, something legally had to be, and it was done. In the overall scheme of things, there is a much wider and more serious problem that many people are becoming aware of and are beginning to seek solutions. This is the problem of the massive amount of time spent by our nation’s teenagers sending text messages, and only the Lord knows to whom they are sending the texts. A local television newscast recently reported that teens were spending over seven hours each day sending text messages or using some type of electronic device.
Again, we live in a democracy, so what can be done about it? And what does it hurt? At this point, allow me to give you the benefit of a recent Nielsen study. It found that the typical teen in the United States sends nearly 80 text messages each day, nearly 2,300 messages each month. Guess who is making the real money here? Medical professionals are becoming concerned, saying that all that thumbing of tiny buttons is leading to everything from repetitive stress injury to sleep deprivation.
The New York Times says the numbers come from Dr. Martin Joffe, a pediatrician in Greenbrae, Calif., who polled students at local high schools. He says youngsters who are already having sleep issues are responding to and sending texts all through the night. Sherry Turkle, director of the Initiative on Technology and Self at MIT, has studied teen texting in the Boston area for three years. She says it may be causing a shift in the way adolescents develop. She says non-stop texting interferes with two major adolescent goals. Separating from parents and finding some space to “become the person you decide you want to be.” She says that breaking away is difficult when adolescents are texting their mothers 15 times a day to ask about simple shopping decisions.
Now, that’s from the technical, learned side. From the practical and common sense side, this is an issue that I have seen coming on for the past several years. Many of these studies are done after it’s too late. It’s like closing the barn door after the horse has already gotten out. I guess this is why it’s often said that Americans only have two speeds: panic and apathy. From my perspective, the greatest victim of all is what all this texting is doing to literacy. If this continues at the same pace for the next decade, what is really down the tube is American culture. We lose reading, creative writing, spelling, sentence structure, and ultimately the English language as we have known it since the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

The next password is Apple