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The text-messaging generation

April 28, 2008

Dassel-Cokato High School students explain their addiction to texting

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Person 1: “HRU?” Person 2: “GR8. HRU?” Person 1: “WRUD?” Person 2: “NM.”

These abbreviations may mean nothing to the average person, but for today’s teens, it’s becoming a second language.

Cell phones are no longer used for just talking anymore. Texting has become a quick and easy way to communicate with one another, especially among today’s teens.

High school English teacher, Susan Marco is afraid the new technology is taking away words and one-on-one interaction for her students.

“Everything is abbreviated,” she said.

Dassel-Cokato seniors Krystina Van Egmond, Paige Meier, Emily Jarl, and Micaela Madson, along with students in Marco’s British Literature class, helped explain their addiction to text messaging.

Marco calls them the “texting queens,” probably because together, they send and receive more than 36,000 text messages a month, with Meier racking up 25,000 of those, alone.

Meier explained her outrageous number of texts was due to the lack of cell phone service she has in her basement, where she uses her phone the most.

Texting doesn’t require the same level of service as talking does, Meier explained.

For Madson, texting is just easier for her and it saves talking minutes on her cell phone plan.

Jarl even admitted texting was easier to hide during class.

She is not alone though, since the majority of Marco’s British literature class also admitted to texting during class.

Though it hasn’t become too much of a problem yet, there are those students who will text under their desks or in their pockets during class, Marco said.

Seena Glessing, agriculture instructor, told of a recent class experience when she was lecturing and noticed a student texting.

“It’s an interruption to have to stop the lecture and address [the student texting] . . . you lose momentum . . . but if you don’t, they will just keep doing it,” Glessing said.

Students don’t even have to look at their phone to text, she said. When the phone is in a certain setting, a person can select the key once and the phone will determine what the intended word is without having to individually select each letter.

“It’s frustrating,” Glessing said. “We only have two eyes,” she added.

Also, with phones on “vibrate,” students can receive text messages or calls without ringing.

According to the DC electronic devices policy which also includes cell phones, students are allowed to use cell phones during their breaks in the morning, lunch, and afternoon, but they cannot bring them into the classroom, according to Steven Schauberger, high school dean of students.

“Word is, they do,” Schauberger said.

If students are caught with their phone, the teacher will ask them to put it away.

If it happens again, the teacher will take it away; and the third time, the phone will be given to Schauberger and the student can pick it up at the end of the day.

This has only happened six or seven times this school year, he said.

Having talked with other teachers in various school districts, Glessing says DC’s cell phone policy is fairly lenient.

“Montevideo is pretty strict with its cell phone policy,” Glessing said.

Deb Hinde, secretary for Montevideo High School, explained their school’s policy regarding cell phone use.

Students cannot use their cell phone during the day at any time unless used in the office, Hinde said.

If they are caught using their cell phones, they are taken away and can be picked up at the end of the day. If caught for the second time, parents need to come in and pick the phone up for their child.

“The kids haven’t pushed it too much. They know the rules, and the teachers have been really good at enforcing it, as well,” Hinde said.

Glessing also spoke with a teacher from BOLD High School who is looking into a portable device for his classroom that blocks out cell phone reception.

High school media specialist Paul Beckermann, hasn’t seen a problem with cell phone use and texting in the media center.

“Part of this may be due to the fact that many students can’t get cell phone service in the building, but I really believe our students are good about respecting our school rules on cell phone use,” he said.

Beckermann sees texting as a new form of e-mail for students.

“It’s like e-mail they can take with them wherever they go,” he said.

Texting may become a safety issue since the majority of Marco’s students admitted to texting while they were driving.

Even though many teens don’t have to look at the phone to type, it’s still a distraction to text while behind the wheel.

“Your mind is thinking about both, so it’s still distracting,” Jarl said.

Some students find it harder to express emotions in a text, as opposed to talking to someone. That’s when emoticons come into play.

Students explained emoticons as animated faces that express emotions. For example, a smiley face for happy and a frown for sad.

Students like the fact that they can ask their friends a quick question without having to call them.

Some said it was “awkward” to call someone just for a quick answer.

Others, like DC junior Steve Koivisto, finds it easier to avoid certain conversations with people.

“You can avoid talking about things you don’t want to talk about,” he said.

For example, if a someone texts a question, a person can choose not to reply by not texting back.

Since texting is such a generational thing, many teachers, including Marco, are just realizing the students are doing it.

“I didn’t realize students were [texting] up until about two months ago,” Marco said.

Half of the students interviewed are on their second, third, and even fourth cell phones.

Meier’s last two phones needed to be replaced because the buttons wore out from texting, she said.

A quarter of the students interviewed said they paid for their own text messaging plan, which, on average, was between $10 and $15 per month.

Depending on the phone plan, many of the students now have unlimited text messaging features to avoid going over and paying extra fees.

Whether avid texters or not, this is a generation that is “addicted to cell phones,” Marco said.

“It will be interesting to see the social skills of this generation – they can’t go without technology,” Marco said.

B4N

Commonly used text message abbreviations
B4N - Bye for now
DM - Doesn’t matter
HRU - How are you?
IDK - I don’t know
LOL - Laughing out loud
NBD - No big deal
NM - Not much
OMW - On my way
WRUD - What are you doing?
WTG - Way to go

Breaking it down
For a person who sends/recieves a total of 10,000 text messages a month and sleeps seven hours a night, that averages out to be 333 texts a day, 19.6 an hour, and one every three minutes.

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