John Smith is now in a relationship with Jane Brown. Michael Smith commented on John Smith’s changed relationship status. “Hey you guys finally made it Facebook official!”
Since entering the 21st century, technology like cell phones with full keyboards, high-tech computers with web-cams that allow people to “Skype” others and of course, the rise of social networks like Facebook or Twitter have all been used by teenagers.
With cell phones that include Internet and texting, computers that allow people to have a face-to-face conversation with people in other countries, and Facebook, it becomes much easier to maintain a long-distance relationship, even if the “distance” is only a school district over.
“If you take it to the point where you just text them [your relationship partner], then yeah, it’s a problem,” said Alice McHugh, sophomore, “but if you continue to have physical contact with them, and like them, not just texting them, then texting doesn’t ruin a relationship.”
Terms like “Facebook official,” “friending” someone, “inbox me,” “follow me on Twitter” and of course, “LOL,” have popped up due to the influence of social networks and texting. In fact, in an article done by the Washington Post, 8 percent of people say texting is their primary way in communicating with their significant other, while 67 percent say they flirt via a text and 68 percent of people send love messages via a text.
When most people text or post something on a social network site, they tend to use “short-hand” language or slang, which has some saying that text messaging, is “ruining” the English language due to people losing sight of grammar or spelling. Other criticisms include T.W.D. or texting while driving, sexting (sending sexually suggestive photographs or texts to someone), bullying via texting or social networks, getting arthritis of the thumbs and texting in schools.
Celebrities, politicians, athletes and other famous people are in the news daily for having being caught doing one or more of the issues above. In each report however, the consequences seem to not be very harsh, while in reality, very severe consequences can happen such as jail time, paying fines and being denied a job.
In April 2009 a Missouri law went into effect that said drivers, 21 and under, would be charged if they were caught text messaging while driving. Though the law is not heavily enforced as most driving while drunk (D.W.I.) laws are, if a police officer catches someone between the ages of 16 and 21 texting behind the wheel, then that person may have to pay up to a $200 fine.
Another major problem that has popped up, especially around the teenage set is sexting, which is also very controversial especially in the United States. The U.S. has severe laws against child pornography, and sexting someone is included in the child pornography laws. This offense can be punishable by paying a fine, being put on probation or even going to jail.
Cyber bullying (bullying over text messaging, social network sites, email or some other form of electronic communication) has also been prolific in the news recently.
In a survey done by the Echo where 10 percent of students were asked about sexting, social network site and texting habits and the texting while driving law. 54 students out 74 replied that they thought sexting should not be illegal, while 15 replied they thought it should be illegal. 33 out 78 students said they thought the texting while driving law should be repealed, most of whom were sophomores though 42 out of 78 students said they thought the texting while driving law should stay a law, most of whom were seniors and 64 students out of 87 students surveyed said they thought the driving law should also apply to people over 21 as well.
56 out of 79 students surveyed said they texted between 0 and 500 texts per day, with 45 out of 76 students said they texted their significant other between 0 and 500 texts per day. Surprisingly, 36 out of 78 students surveyed said they thought saying “I love you” via a text, doesn’t count as really saying I love you. 28 out of 70 students said they do use Facebook as a tool to talk to their significant other, and 39 out of 74 students said they had been dumped by a social network site, phone call or text. Of 95 students surveyed, 80 students said they thought being dumped in person was better than being dumped online.
In 2006 Megan Meier who lived in O’Fallon, killed herself because the mother of one of her friends, Lori Drew, made a fake MySpace account and used it to torment Meier. Drew pretended to be a boy named Josh Evans and after having virtually seduced Meier, insulted her and told her that “the world would be a better place without her.” Meier, who was 13 at the time, went upstairs and hung herself. In 2009 Drew was acquitted of all charges in the Meier case.
More recently, in 2010, a 15-year-old girl named Phoebe Prince, who had moved from Ireland to Massachusetts, had been tormented online by several older girls because of a relationship that Prince had with one of the girl’s ex-boyfriends. On Jan. 14, 2010, Prince hung herself after facing an entire day of harassment and having things thrown at her. Six of the teenagers have been charged for having contributed to the suicide of Prince.
Using texting and various social network sites can be very helpful: communication happens more quickly, it’s easier and it’s also easier to open up when it’s not face to face. However, in doing that, people open themselves up to doing or saying things, they can’t necessarily take back. Using texting and social network sites have their uses, but they also have their pitfalls. In the event that people feel they are abusing them, then they should either cut back or be more careful about what they text or post.