Texting has become a way of life for most people from adults through to the young teens that own a cell phone. It is a simple and effective way to share information in very short, concise messages that saves the need for those sometimes time consuming personal phone calls. The idea behind texting is wonderful, but there may be a darker side to this communication method for adults and teens alike. Texting can become an addiction, with some people reporting that they feel anxious, depressed or isolated if they are not able to send or receive texts on a regular basis.
It is estimated that the average teen sends just under 3400 texts per month. This equates roughly to 100 or so texts a day or about 10 texts an hour for the time that kids are actually awake. Take out class time, eating and other non-text compatible activities and you are probably looking at closer to 20 texts per hour or one text every 3 minutes. Adults tend to text at lower amounts, but still into the thousands of texts per month when it reaches the level of addiction.
Not surprisingly there is science behind the increasing number of people that are finding that text messaging has become an addiction. Researchers studying the effects of texting have found that receiving messages actually changes the level of dopamine, which is a naturally occurring mood enhancing chemical in the brain. This is the same chemical that linked to developing other types of addictions, including drug addictions. The brain craves the feelings of pleasure that the flood of dopamine produces so each text is like a bit of instant gratification with both physiological and psychological reinforcement.
All texting is not addictive. However, when texting becomes the major focus for a person; they are stressed when they cannot text, or they choose texting over personal interactions there is a problem. Addressing this behavior as an addiction instead of as a bad habit gives the significance to the addiction that it deserves. Treating a texting addiction is not as simple as just trying to cut down, it requires addiction recovery, behavior changes and a healthy alternative to produce those feel good chemicals in the brain.