Kate Keenan Too much texting carries serious risks
Recent statistics from Ofcom, the independent regulator for the UK communications industries, indicate that texting has overtaken talking as the most frequent way people prefer to keep in touch.
Not surprisingly, teenagers and young adults are in the forefront of these changes. Even though they say they prefer face-to-face communication, they increasingly socialise with friends and family online and specifically through text messages. And it looks as if this trend is set to continue as technology advances.
So what could be the implications arise from this shift from talking to texting? Psychologists who study the impact of texting on the acquisition of interpersonal skills are concerned that young people may be missing out in this vital area of development. The ability to comprehend the subtlety and complexity of social interactions, to be able to "read" situations accurately, can really only come only with time and experience.
The importance of understanding non-verbal behaviour to ensure survival has long been recognised. If you can't accurately read people's body language, you won't be able to distinguish if someone is a friend or enemy and will not necessarily react appropriately.
It seems to me that if youngsters do not satisfactorily acquire these key social skills, it will be quite daunting for them to deal with real people in the real world.
It can be only too easy to misread the nuances of various social signals: for example, interpreting someone speaking in a quiet, but stern, voice as being aggressive, rather than reprimanding.
The text message is clearly here to stay and even the most avid advocates of talking do not recommend avoiding it entirely. Sending a text is extremely useful for checking out facts, letting people know where you are or that you going to be late.
But for communicating messages containing emotional, particularly sad, messages, it is perhaps not the most sensitive way.
Too much texting can take people out of the social loop and may lead to living quite a lonely and reactive life. I believe this does not bode well for the enhancement of the next generation's skills in navigating and negotiating the increasing intricacies of modern and future life.
Mixing the ratio of texts with other media, where you can see the other person's reactions, can help in developing those essential interpersonal life skills.
Kate is the author of a series of Management Guides which have sold more than 1.2 million copies around the world. She can be contacted via www.kate-keenan.com