Textually transmitted disorders
AUSTRALIA’S youths are addicted to their mobile phones and Tweed teenagers are no exception.
The Tweed Daily News caught up with four 13-year-olds who all openly admitted to being mobile-phone obsessed.
“I check my phone every second,” Year 8 student Jeneeka Johnson said.
Sheree Hollstein said her phone never left her side, even during school hours.
“We text in class,” she confessed. “But if the teachers catch us they take our mobiles off us.”
All four teens said they could not imagine living without their trusty phones.
“I’ve had a mobile phone since Year 3,” Arielle Aviles said.
The others have owned a mobile for four or five years also. Youth just like these can be found in every Australian town, according to a new study by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, which showed 75 per cent of 12-14 year olds and 90 per cent of 15-17 year olds owned a mobile phone.
Some staggering statistics from Boost Mobile revealed that the number of texts sent by Boost Mobile customers in the 14-18 year old demographic had increased more than 89 per cent in the past two years.
The top 200 Boost Mobile texters send an average of 6000 texts per month. One teen in particular sent more than 4000 texts in nine days.
And while they may not all be on such an extreme scale, teenagers are starting to develop a range of disorders as a result of their high texting habits.
Following research by two of Australia’s foremost academics on mobile phone trends, Dr Shari Walsh (QUT) and Associate Professor Jennie Carroll (RMIT), the disorders have been defined by Boost Mobile as:
Textophrenia – Hearing texts when they are not actually there;
Textiety – Anxiety related to not receiving texts or not being able to text;
Post Traumatic Text Disorder - Injuries physical or mental related to texting;
Binge Texting – Sending multiple texts out at once to make yourself feel good.
Jeneeka said she often heard or felt phantom texts. “I always think I feel a message but when I check it I didn’t.”
But the Tweed teens said they did not get anxious if someone did not reply quickly enough, and instead would just “keep texting or call them”.
Associate Professor Carroll said many young people had a fear of missing out on what was happening.
“Young people say ‘No one loves me’ when they check their phones and there are no new texts,” she said.
“There were reports from Japan of ‘repetitive thumb syndrome’ and of young people’s thumbs growing in response to too much texting leading to ‘Monster Thumbs’.
“The upcoming generations will add lots more ‘disorders’ as they develop new communications practices with yet-to-be-released technologies.”
Focus groups run by Dr Walsh showcased the disorders:
Textiety: “I wake up and check my phone straight away... I’ll have a shower, then I’ll come back and I’ll check the phone.” (Female, 16).
“I always check my phone at work to see if anyone’s messaged me.” (Female, 17).
Binge Texting: “I get excited like say if I have one message received I’m like, yeah, sweet, check it. If there’s like 2 or 3 messages I’m like, YES, who’s it from kind of thing, like I get excited because I’ve got a lot of messages.” (Female, 17).
Post Traumatic Text Disorder: “If no-one has contacted me I get really depressed and I’m like oh no-one loves me.” (Female, 17).