Excessive use of mobile phones, particularly by teenagers, but also adults, has led to new terminologies in the psychological world to explain behaviour around texting. ‘Textaphrenia’ is the imagined hearing of a text alert or vibration when there isn’t one, or the constant checking of a mobile while waiting for a reply to a text. Jeannie Carroll, a Melbourne Technology Researcher with RMIT University discovered four new disorders associated with overuse of sms texting. Other terms are ‘Textiety’, the anxiety felt when waiting for a reply to a text; ‘Post-Traumatic Text Disorder’, involving injuries sustained to the body like stumbling or bumping into an object while trying to walk and text at the same time; ‘Binge Texting’ involves sending out multiple texts to give a boost to the self-confidence of a person that they have a lot of friends. These terms are not accepted as’ real’ in the world of psychology as yet, but there is sound evidence from studies to support the reality of the behaviour, and we will more than likely hear more of these terms in the future.
On the plus side of texting, Dr. Paul Zak, often referred to as Dr. Love because of his belief in hugging people to raise our oxytocin levels, says “E-connection is processed by the brain like an in-person connection”. The hormone, oxytocin is associated with feelings of empathy, generosity, trust, compassion and so on in humans. He, along with his colleagues, set up an experiment to measure the levels of oxytocin in blood before and after a 10-minute session of tweeting with friends and strangers. Tweeting boosted oxytocin levels by a little over 13 per cent and there was a significant drop in stress hormones.
It is back to the old adage ‘Everything in Moderation’, but if you’re feeling low, try texting or tweeting, just not while you are walking!