My younger daughter is finishing up her masters' degree in counseling at a local university. She also works in the student assistance center helping those who need remedial help. The other day, a student came in for help with her paper, the topic of which was "The Distracting Nature of Texting." While my daughter was reading the paper and preparing to help her with her writing, she looked across the desk to find the student doing what else but — texting!
For many, texting has become an obsession. Some young people text more than 3,000 times each day. Not only can this social function become a time waster, it also can keep the texter from building real relationships with real people.
A recent New York Times article explains the downside of being "powered up" all the time. "At the University of California, San Francisco, scientists have found that when rats have a new experience, like exploring an unfamiliar area, their brains show new patterns of activity. Only when the rats take a break from their exploration do they process those patterns in a way that seems to create a persistent memory of the experience.
The researchers suspect that the findings also apply to how humans learn. 'Almost certainly, downtime lets the brain go over experiences it's had, solidify them, and turn them into permanent long-term memories,' said Loren Frank, assistant professor in the department of physiology at the university, where he specializes in learning and memory. He said he believed that when the brain was constantly stimulated, 'you prevent this learning process.'" (Richtel, 2010)
Perhaps a starting point in helping our clients build better relationships with people and with God is to help them learn to "power down" from the frantic texting-driven lifestyle that may be theirs.
Jerry Thacker, B.A., M.A., is President of Right Ideas, Inc., and publisher of At the Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Richtel, M. (2010) Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime, downloaded 3/16/11 from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/technology/25brain.html.