Be honest. You know your cellphone’s keyboard better than you know your friends’ birthdays.
Just a few quick finger flicks and you’ve sent texts to your best friend, your boyfriend and your mom. You probably text all the time, but in the back of your head you know you shouldn’t. You’ve read that texting causes accidents, ruins your spelling, and keeps you up at night.
But new research says texting can be a good thing, too!
Adrian Aguilera, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at The University of California at Berkeley, recently developed a texting program that sent patients automated text messages asking them about their moods and reminding them to think positively. The response was encouraging, says Aguilera.
Patients said things like, "When I was in a difficult situation and I received a message, I felt much better. I felt cared for and supported. My mood even improved,” and “My life is so crazy, I need a reminder to think about how I feel.”
The patients even noticed when a glitch kept messages away for a few days. Just like you would if your phone went silent for too long.
Aguilera’s program is special because it uses the power of texting to help low income patients. The very fact that the program used text messages was key to its success. Most patients in Aguilera’s clinic don’t have access to the Internet or computers. Text messaging, however, is nearly universal (you’re not the only one sneaking texts in at work).
“We are harnessing a technology that people use in their everyday lives to improve mental health in low-income, under-served communities,” Aguilera said.
So before you beat yourself up about your texting addiction, remember that not all texting is created equal. While updating your friends on your every move (and racking up a hefty cellphone bill in the process) might not be that healthy, the friendly “how r u?” could make someone’s day. Perhaps we don’t need to text less, just better.
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