Texting May Be Affecting the Development of Deep Relationships

Are young people losing the ability to communicate properly and to build real relationships because they choose to text rather than to actually chat live on the phone?

Texting is exceeding live phone chatting

Teenagers and young adults choose to send text messages over making a phone call. The most common and obvious reason for this is economic: to send an sms is cheaper than making a phone call. It can also be more efficient and direct. Cheaper still than an sms is sending a text message via an internet-based instant messaging service like Whatsapp. The result of all this texting is that live, one-on-one communication is dwindling.

There is no tone in texting

A text message can be more easily misinterpreted than an interchange in a live phone conversation. There is no room to read the tone of voice of the 'speaker' in a text message. The words that are written are read in the tone of voice the receiver chooses, which may be incorrect and lead to misunderstanding. Tone is so important in understanding what someone is actually saying. Only in live chat does this level of communication exist.

Relationships grow through interaction

Relationships are built on interaction and the development of respect and tolerance for the other person. As you find out more and more about another person, so the relationship grows. When young adults communicate mainly via text, their understanding of other people is based only on the content of the messages, not on their feelings and attitudes, as communicated silently and eloquently by the tone of voice, pace and number of hesitations in a live phone conversation.

You will get to know a lot about a person from texting them, but not nearly as much as if you speak to them directly and have real-time, live conversations that mutate as they go, telling you much more about each other than just words.

Texting is the safe option

You may find that someone may be quite happy texting you, even holding long conversations, but they will not be at all comfortable talking to you – either face-to-face or on the phone.

Texting presents a safe option. It is up to you to choose to read a text message. You also have the choice to respond immediately, at a later stage, or even not at all. Live phone chat is less comfortable, more threatening and more out of your control. In a live phone conversation, you hear everything that is said to you and are expected to respond immediately. Often, you don't have time to really think about and to compose your answer.

It is through these mostly uncontrolled and less clinical interactions, that deep levels of identification with another person take place and relationships are built and strengthened. It is this level of contact between people that texting does not allow and which may result in close, meaningful relationships being harder to achieve.