Developmental psychologists studying the impact of texting worry especially about young people, not just because kids are such promiscuous users of the technology, but because their interpersonal skills — such as they are — have not yet fully formed.
MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle is one of the leading researchers looking into the effects of texting on interpersonal development. Turkle believes that having a conversation with another person teaches kids to, in effect, have a conversation with themselves — to think and reason and self-reflect. “That particular skill is a bedrock of development.”
Turkle cites the texted apology — or what she calls “saying ‘I’m sorry’ and hitting send” — as a vivid example of what’s lost when we type instead of speak. “A full-scale apology means I know I’ve hurt you, I get to see that in your eyes,” she says. “You get to see that I’m uncomfortable, and with that, the compassion response kicks in. There are many steps and they’re all bypassed when we text.”
Part of the appeal of texting in these situations is that it’s less painful — but the pain is the point. “The complexity and messiness of human communication gets shortchanged,” Turkle says. “Those things are what lead to better relationships.”
Former atheist/agnostic, now a pastor and professional rambler. Have a B.A. in Psychology and M.Div from SEBTS. Both degrees negate each other, i.e. I'm still a dummy. Have a fifth degree black belt and I can eat five lbs. of steak in one sitting. A recovered porn addict, skeptical Christian, loves Jesus. I gave away half my salary in 2012 to fight human trafficking, and you can help. Have a mixed German shepherd named Rosco, have two toenails growing out of one toe, and I'm addicted to coffee, ginger ale, and tomato juice.
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