Posts Tagged ‘Texting’

Car Crash Deaths Eclipse Toll of World Wars

July 22, 2019

The title of this post contains most of the title of the article by Ashley Hasey III in the 22 July 2019 Washington Post. The entire title is “Car crash deaths since 2000 eclipse toll of World Wars.” Since January 2000 more than 624,000 people died in car crashes, compared to 535,000 American military personnel who died in the two world wars. Close to 78,000 people have died in crashes caused by distracted driving according to a study by the American Public Health Association and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data.

Cellphone use while driving caused 800 deaths in 2017. Most of them were talking rather than texting or dealing with emails according the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports this year. So so much for hands free requirements dealing with the distraction problem.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that those who talk on a cellphone while driving are four times more likely to crash. Those who text and drive are up to eight times likely to crash.

Even if you care little or nothing about yourself, think about the other people you can kill or maim.

Infobesity

July 15, 2019

This post is based on a book by Stefan Van Der Stigchel titled “How Attention Works: Finding Your Way in a World Full of Distraction.” This term, “infobesity,” as been coined by the popular media, but it is increasingly being referred to as a clinical disease. The term is the brainchild of a “trend team” employed by a company specializing in identifying trends among young people. Although there is very little scientific literature on the subject, the fact is that doctors are treating more and more teenagers these days for problems associated with a lack of sleep.

Dr. Van Der Stigchel writes, “One of the factors contributing to this lack of sleep is our insatiable appetite for information that is presented to us on-screen.” Obviously this leads to problems with concentration. From the scientific studies that have been done, young people are extremely frequent multimedia users. On average 18-year-olds spend a total of 20 hours a day on various media. Obviously this can only be because different media are used simultaneously, which further exacerbates the damage. The vast majority of this multimedia use is of the visual kind. Functions that rely on the spoken word have been replaced by visual ones. Unfortunately voice mail is becoming a thing of the past because it takes too much time, and people prefer to send their messages screen-to-screen instead. Dr. Van Der Stigchel notes that we are using the telephone less and choosing more often to interact with others on-screen and not only through hearing their voice. If e-mail and WhatsApp relied on the spoken word, they would be less popular.

Dr. Van Der Stigchel writes, “Screens are so efficient at communicating information that we see them everywhere nowadays. The result is a titanic battle for our attention, We have already established that it only takes a quick glance at a limited amount of visual information to know what that information is. In a single moment, we choose the one piece of visual information that is most relevant to us from all the information swirling around us. We then process this one piece of information deeply enough to be able to establish its identity. All of the other information continues to blink away furiously, but it can only become relevant when we decide to look again.”

How does one deal with infobesity? We need to deal with infobesity the same manner in which we deal with obesity. We deal with obesity by selectively controlling and reducing our food input. We deal with infobesity by selectively controlling and reducing
our information input. Unless one is a professional on-call, a physician for instance, there is no reason for staying continually connected. This FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is irrational. Most, if not practically all, messages can wait until we have time to pay attention to them. When we interrupt what we are doing to process a message, there are two sources of attentional loss. There is additional information to deal with at the same time, and there are also time and attentional costs involved in switching between sources of information and processing them

An examination of different sources of information can lead to deletions of certain sources. Some information is of little value, so these sources of information should be eliminated. Our attentional resources are extremely limited, so we need to spend them carefully.

In conclusion, deal with infobesity by going on an information diet, and processing only those sources of information that have substantial value.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Internet: Online Time—Oh, and Other Media, Too

April 14, 2019

The title of this post is the same as the second chapter in iGEN: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood, by Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D.

iGen-ers sleep with their phones. They put them under their pillows, on the mattress, or at least within arm’s reach of the bed. They check social media websites and watch videos right before they go to bed, and reach for their phones again as soon as they wake up in the morning. So their phone is the last thing they see before they go to sleep, and the first thing they see when they wake up. If they wake up in the middle of the night, they usually look at their phones.

Dr. Twenge notes, “Smartphones are unlike any other previous form of media, infiltrating nearly every minute of our lives, even when we are unconscious with sleep. While we are awake, the phone entertains, communicates, and glamorizes. She writes, “It seems that teens (and the rest of us) spend a lot of time on phones—not talking but texting, on social media, online, and gaming (togther, these are labeled ‘new media’). Sometime around 2011, we arrived at the day when we looked up, maybe from our own phones, and realized that everyone around us had a phone in his or her hands.”

Dr, Twenge reports, “iGen high school seniors spent an average of 2.25 hours a day texting on their cell phone, about 2 hours a day on the Internet, 1.5 hours a day on electronic gaming , and about a half hour on video chat. This sums to a total of 5 hours a day with new media, This varies little based on family background; disadvantaged teens spent just as much or more time online as those with more resources. The smartphone era has meant the effective end of the Internet access gap.

Here’s a breakdown of how 12th graders are spending their screen time from Monitoring the Future, 2013-2015:
Texting 28%
Internet 24%
Gaming 18%
TV 24%
Video Chat 5%

Dr. Twenge reports that in seven years (2008 to 2015) social media sites went from being a daily activity for half of teens, to almost all of them. In 2015 87% of 12th grade girls used social media sites almost every day in 2015 compared to 77% of boys.
HM was happy to see that eventually many iGen’ers see through the veneer of chasing likes—but usually only once they are past their teen years.

She writes that “social media sites go into and out of fashion, and by the time you read this book several new ones will probably be on the scene. Among 14 year olds Instagram and Snapchat are much more popular than Facebook.“ She notes that recently group video chat apps such as Houseparty were catching on with iGEN, allowing them to do what they call ‘live chilling.”

Unfortunately, it appears that books are dead. In the late 1970s, a clear majority of teens read a book or a magazine nearly every day, but by 2015, only 16% did. e-book readers briefly seemed to rescue books: the number who said they read two or more books for pleasure bounced back in the late 2000s, but they sank again as iGEN (and smartphones) entered the scene in the 2010. By 2015, one out of three high school seniors admitted they had not read any books for pleasure in the past year, three times as many as in 1976.

iGEN teens are much less likely to read books than their Millennial, GenX, and Boomer predecessors. Dr. Twenge speculates that a reason for this is because books aren’t fast enough. For a generation raised to click on the next link or scroll to the next page within seconds, books just don’t hold their attention. There are also declines for iGen-ers with respect to magazines and newspapers.

SAT scores have declined since the mid-2000s, especially in writing (a 13-point decline since 2006) and critical reading ( a 13-point decline since 2005).

Dr, Twenge raises the fear that with iGen and the next generations never learning the patience necessary to delve deeply into a topic, and the US economy falling behind as a result.

April is Distracted-Driving Awareness Month

April 1, 2015

So said the article in the March 31st Washington Post in the article by Ashley Halsey III, “Keeping their eyes on everything but the road.”  April is appropriate as it begins with April Fools Day and anyone who drives while using a cell phone or texting is indeed a fool.  They are fools who put not only themselves, but also others at risk.  I recently read a true story about a man who drove full speed into the back of a car that was waiting for the light to change.  The man said he did not see the light because he was looking for his cell phone.  The women in the car that was hit had been recovering from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).  This accident sent their recovery back substantially.  I hope that driver served jail time.  I also hope he was sued into bankruptcy.   First of all, he should never use his cell while driving.  However, even if you are not using a cell phone and are trying to drive safely instances will occur,involving a child for instance, that will grab your attention.  Rather than continuing to try to drive while distracted you should safely make your way to a place where you can stop safely and deal with the crisis.

There have been many healthy memory blog posts about using a cell phone while driving.  Texting while driving is even more ridiculous.  A survey from the AAA Foundation found that 58% of teenagers involved in crashes wee distracted by something.  Another survey by the Erie Insurance Company  found people admit to a lot more than texting and talking on cell phones.  15% percent confessed to engaging in a “romantic encounter” while driving.  43 % said they sing or dance (dance !!! can you believe it!).  30% said they apply makeup.  15% said they read.  9 % said they changed clothes.  4 % said they flossed or brushed their teeth. And the same percentage said they take selfies.  And 3% said that they had relieved themselves while they were behind the wheel.

Again, if these people were only endangering themselves this could be ignored and let natural selection take place.  Unfortunately, they are placing all of us at risk.  So take April and every other month seriously avoid distracted-driving and encourage others to avoid distracted driving.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Is Texting Bad?

September 21, 2011

This post was motivated by an article in Newsweek1. According to a recent survey done by the National Endowment for the Arts, the proportion of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 who read a book not required at school or at work is now 50.7%. This is the lowest for any adult age group under 75. Twenty years ago this was 59%. The difference in reading ability between the 15 year-olds in the Shanghai district of China and those in the United States is as big as the gap between the U.S. and Serbia or Chile.

Another article2 reported that SAT reading scores had dropped to the lowest point in decades. Nationally the reading score for the Class of 2011was 497. Last year it was 500 and it was 530 in 1972, which was the last year for which these comparisons are possible. This article notes that more students are taking the test and this could account for some percentage of the loss.

Many variables are involved here. Texting is just one of them. Personally, I have difficulty understanding the popularity of texting. I don’t do it. I have a large number of text messages on my phone which are unread and which shall remain unread. The internet and the vast amount of information in cyberspace is another. Although there is much junk on the internet, there is also an enormous amount of useful information on substantive topics. I think the problem is that the junk is accessed much more frequently than the substantive content. By necessity, texting needs to be short. So, although it has the virtue of conciseness, it sacrifices depth and breadth. Moreover, I am led to believe that most of the content is trivial.

So there is much to be said about conventional books. Perhaps electronic books should be added. They also have the virtue of breadth and depth plus the added benefit of search functions, but I am not aware of any research on the topic. If you know of any such research, please point me to it.

I was amused by the recommendations made by the author of the Newsweek article. They were all from what is regarded as classical literature. I have nothing against the classics, but in today’s world to be a truly informed citizen, one needs to read books in both the natural and social sciences, mathematics and computing, business, economics, religion, and history, for perspective. Frankly, I find little time for fiction, but reading should also be done for recreational purposes. There is simply too much good to read. A healthy dosage of quality periodicals and newspapers is also needed.

1Ferguson, N. (2011). Newsweek, Texting Makes U Stupid. September 19, p. 11.

2Chandler, M.A. (2011). SAT reading scores drop to lowest point in decades, 14 September.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.