The excitement of that first, the anticipation of the second, the thrill of following with a third. When it comes to texting, this scenario sounds all too familiar to most.
Who could have foreseen that once the first text message was sent in 1992, it would change human behavior forever? It should come as no surprise that with an average of 18.7 billion text messages sent daily, it plays a massive role in society.
But what about individually? Sure, sending a text is an easy-to-do task, but what happens in our brains while we text?
Read on to discover the most noteworthy psychological facts about texting. They just may change the way you text forever.
31 Psychological Facts About Texting
There’s no harm in sending a text, right? Well, it turns out that, like most things in life, texting has both its pros and cons. So, it’s time to dive into the most exciting facts about texting.
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1. Texting Is a Powerful Therapy Tool
Without a doubt, there’s a lot of power in texting. It allows people to express their thoughts, feelings, and random ideas at the press of a button. Now, from the perspective of psychologists and the way they interact with their patients, it has revolutionized therapy models.
As patients experience something, texting allows them to inform their psychologists instantaneously. Taking advantage of this, it has been found that people are more open and honest, thus improving the psychological treatment of mental health issues.
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2. It Allows People to Be More Mean
That might sound a bit harsh, but unfortunately, it’s true. When texting, people feel more comfortable expressing themselves both positively and negatively. Playing a significant role in cyberbullying, when texting, you can shoot off rude and potentially hurtful statements without much consequence.
Inevitably this aspect of texting has desensitized people to the power of their words and is giving rise to bullying someone via text message. Without fear of physical altercations, texting slowly creates a mental space for people to be mean to others.
3. Texting and Sex Go Hand-in-Hand
Conversely, texting and its interaction with our views and approaches to sex have never been more prevalent. In the form of sexting, how our minds use text messaging to engage in sexual activities is causing a drastic change.
When engaged in sexting, studies have shown that, at times, individuals get more satisfaction from expressing their desires over a text than in real life. This has given rise to other modern phenomena, such as hookup culture, where texting is the initiation instead of face-to-face conversations.
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4. Texting Improves Self-monitoring
So while sending a potentially harmful text might go down without a second thought, it turns out that having that ability also changes our self-monitoring. The act of self-monitoring often happens without much notice as you go about your day, either before or after doing or saying something.
With texting, psychologically, people are improving their self-monitoring skills. Thinking about how to word something and how it will read to the other person are just some self-monitoring skills texting is helping with.
5. Texting and Instant Gratification
Ever been stuck waiting for a reply that just doesn’t seem to come fast enough? Well, as it turns out, thanks to texting, our idea of instant gratification is becoming more skewed. When texting, most people expect a response instantly or close to it.
Unfortunately, because a reply sometimes takes a while, our brains have begun to feed off the instant gratification provided by an instant answer, which provides either a spike or drop in dopamine based on response time.
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6. It’s Changed the Way Marketing Is Done
Ignoring a text message is almost impossible, regardless of how busy you are. And marketing companies know this. Because of the enticing idea of what a text message might contain, a data analyst Gartner study found that 98% of texts get opened and read.
This makes marketing through text messages a new and thriving industry because people are now almost automatically inclined to open a message. Once opened, chances are it gets read, and from there, a simple yes or no choice is made within a few seconds.
7. There’s a Peak-Time for Texting
While the idea of a preferred time to text sounds ridiculous, there is actually a “peak time” for text messages, and it directly relates to mental activity. According to multiple studies and some facts about cheating, most text messages are sent between 10:30 and 11:00 pm.
Late-night texting during this time often correlates with the psychology of adultery and sexual activity. People prone to sexual infidelity tend to use texting during those 30 minutes more than any other time of day.
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8. We Don’t Really Care About the Dangers of Texting
Okay, that might sound bold, but when texting, our brains ignore the dangers of texting subconsciously. Specifically related to the risks of being hacked or having the information leaked online.
In texts, people often reveal sensitive information without realizing the danger therein. Even with the rise in cybersecurity measures, texts are still easy targets for hackers, and even knowing this, our minds find it easy to negate the potential effects.
9. It Slows Our Reaction Time
Regarding physical and mental focus on other tasks, such as driving, our brains have begun to slow down thanks to texting. The speed at which you react is slowing down because of the fast-paced concentration that texting requires.
This is especially evident when performing at-hand tasks, with a general decrease of 70% in reaction time to real-time events. Even in potentially dangerous situations, our minds, while texting, physically slow down response times to everything else besides the text we’re busy typing.
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10. Texting Interferes With Healthy Sleep Patterns
Can you text in your sleep? Probably not, but it appears that texting before you go to bed at night severely affects your sleep patterns. This is thanks to screen time and how the blue light that phone screens emit is aimed at grabbing and holding onto your attention.
Beyond that, psychologically, the elements of texting also play a big role. The eager anticipation of a reply or the multiple ongoing conversations seems to damage sleep cycles. This is why texting before you go to sleep is heavily protested against, as it can stop you from falling asleep or staying asleep.
11. It’s Breaking Down Boundaries
Social boundaries are taking a hit thanks to texting. Because there are no clear rules on texting someone or the fear of in-person rejection doesn’t play a role, texting damages personal boundaries. It changes perceptions of privacy and availability.
Texting and instant gratification combine to create the idea that middle-of-the-night texts or vacation texts are fine. When actually, the need for an immediate response or impatience of waiting erodes mental respect for personal boundaries.
12. It Encourages Surface-Level Communication
Small talk is an incredibly important part of forming relationships, and texting does a fantastic job of creating space where it is encouraged. Psychologists have reported that patients with social anxiety prefer to communicate via text, as it allows them to be more comfortable with the finer aspects of small talk.
This surface-level communication also has its downsides. Unless explicitly intended, texting is almost always just small talk, disrupting the personal investment in meaningful conversations.
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13. Face to Face Communication Is Taking the Backseat
The aim of texting is to have rapid-fire conversations that get to the point as quickly as possible, which has benefits. But text-style conversation skills aren’t that helpful for people when it comes to face-to-face interactions. This means that when people text more, their ability to engage in interpersonal conversations decreases.
Especially among teenagers, the psychological effects of texting and an aversion to face-to-face communication are remarkable. But this also extends to adults, with people becoming more and more inclined to text someone in the same room instead of speaking directly to them.
14. It Affects How We Shop
So while texting and commercial marketing work well together, the same goes for how people shop. With online shopping and eCommerce becoming the norm for most new and thriving businesses, texting is also becoming the new go-to for customer service.
Consumer trends show that when someone can interact with customer service via texting about a product or service, they are likelier to do so. In 2019 a survey conducted by Avochato found that 63% of respondents would switch to a company that offers texting as a communication method for customer support.
15. Texting Changes Our Perception of Time
When interacting with other people in real time as part of a face-to-face situation, people have a general idea of when a conversation ends. This sense of time is an essential function in your mind.
However, with texting, a time distortion happens in how you perceive the duration of conversations. With no social cues, a text conversation can continue for far longer than you realize, but your brain doesn’t recognize it. If you’ve ever lost hours texting someone only to think it was a few minutes, this is why.
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16. Texting Puts Everyone in the Same Social Status
A benefit of texting, in individual psychology, is that social status falls away when you text someone. Because the visual elements or physical aspects of a person’s position aren’t present in a text message, social status appears to have little effect on the conversation.
Everyone is equal within the mind of texters; thus, texting removes the fear or resistance to honest communication between people. Instead of approaching a conversation based on appearance, when you text, it’s what is said that matters; with that, the playing field is leveled.
17. Texting Breaks Down Our Ideas of Distance
Back in the day, when you posted a letter to someone living far away from you, your mind would create a general sense of how long it would take to reach the recipient. This was done based on the distance between the sender and the receiver.
Knowing that it would take a specific amount of time to travel from you to whoever you sent the letter to creates a sense of distance. Nowadays, with texting, this mental perception is disappearing, as you can text someone around the world, and they will get the message immediately.
18. It Negatively Affects Our Memories
If you’ve ever gone through your text history and discovered that you’d completely forgotten that you mentioned something, you’re not alone. With texting and its ability to save information sent between people, the actual memory process of that conversation is becoming less important.
Within your mind and memory, if something else can remember it for you, then you don’t need to do it. And with text archives now commonplace, it’s no longer necessary for your brain to actively remember what was said.
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19. Some People Are Better at Texting
In the same way that some people are better at writing than others, the same goes for texting. Certain people are more linguistically gifted, allowing them to be “better” at texting than others, thanks to several aspects.
Beyond having larger vocabularies, some minds process something that is written faster and respond quicker. This is why some people text slowly while others can type out entire conversations in minutes. Their minds are just preprogrammed that way.
20. Texting Causes Us to Understand Only What We Want to
As convenient as texting is, it creates a large landscape for misunderstandings between people. This doesn’t mean it’s a misunderstanding of what is said, but more so in your understanding of how something is said.
As there is often no way to determine the tone or mood of a text, a simple message can come across as rude or abrasive in your mind. On the other hand, something serious could come across as casual and not important. Texting allows you to understand and interpret what you want, not necessarily what is needed.
21. It’s Addictive in Nature
Back to the instant gratification that texting spurs in your mind. With the “always-on” concept it created and its subsequent effect on dopamine levels, texting can become a compelling addiction.
The more you engage in texting, the more your mind will start to crave the rush you get from it and prioritize it above other things. This is why texting too much affects aspects like sleep. Your brain becomes accustomed to the influx of small dopamine surges, and that slowly turns into an addiction.
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22. It Negatively Affects Our Language Skills
Everyone knows what “LOL”, “IMO”, and “WTF” mean. Beyond the fact that it’s common to use abbreviations in texting, language skills are deteriorating thanks to the creation of these layman’s abbreviations.
When someone texts a lot or solely engages with others via text and the type of language used in texting, it can be difficult for them to improve their language skills. Instead of saying “laugh out loud”, it’s more common to hear someone say “LOL”, and although seemingly harmless, it impacts mental growth.
23. Texting Helps Us Detach From Reality
Smartphones have changed how we view the world around us almost entirely, and so has texting. Have you ever been waiting for an elevator with a group of people and turned to your phone to text someone to avoid awkward silence? Well, that’s because texting helps us detach from reality.
But this detachment can be dangerous and habitual. For example, in the city of Honolulu, it is a criminal offense to cross a street while texting. This is due to a person’s detachment from reality while texting, which has led to numerous severe injuries in the city.
24. Texting Impacts Our Emotional Intelligence
Thanks to the ease with which you can respond to someone via texting, often you only consider what you texted after sending it. You may only realize what you typed is hurtful after reading it; by then, it’s too late. This happens to everyone, and according to some studies, it negatively affects our emotional intelligence.
In face-to-face interactions, your emotional intelligence provides cues on how to respond and what to say, but with texting, that disappears. People are thus becoming numb to the impact of what they say, which in turn, slows the growth of our emotional intelligence.
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25. Improvements in Texting Might Not Be Helpful
Considering the widespread use of texting in modern-day life, it’s no surprise that there are constant improvements to how texting happens. With the additions of predictive texting and autocorrect, how we text changes our subconscious approach to talking face-to-face.
You no longer need to put much mental effort into what you’re typing because chances are your predictive text will fill in the blanks for you. This obviously doesn’t happen in real life, and a slow decline in vocabulary occurs over time. The smarter our texting apps become, the less thinking we need to do.
26. Texting Has Actually Created a New Brainwave Pattern
It had to happen eventually, but finally, texting has created an entirely new brainwave pattern inside your mind. Well, at least while you’re busy texting. Research conducted by neurologist William Tatum showcased that while someone was busy texting, a completely new brain wave came to life.
Oddly enough, this brain wave only lasted for the duration the person being studied spent texting. As soon as the texting stopped, the pattern stopped and vanished. Interestingly, this pattern emerged in the part of the brain associated with attention and focus.
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27. Texting Brings People Together
As much as can be said about the distance texting creates between people, it seems it can also bring people together. Not in the way you’d expect, but rather in the texting style used by certain groups of people.
Studies have shown that people who text in a similar style are more inclined to continue talking to each other. For example, teenagers often have an entirely different texting style than adults. This means that when communicating with someone who texts differently than you do, you usually aren’t as invested.
28. It Can Lead to Self-imposed Isolation
Why engage with the outside world when you can sit in your room and communicate with whoever you want via text? Sounds harmless enough, but when someone engages in texting more and more, a psychological pattern emerges that can lead to self-imposed isolation.
This, in turn, can lead to more distressing issues such as depression. While you may feel connected to those you love thanks to an easy exchange of texts, doing so in your room for days on end can subconsciously create a baseline drop in chemicals such as serotonin. This chemical helps you feel happy, and one way of getting it is through interpersonal communication, but with texting, that communication “high” is lost.
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29. Texting Can Help Us Process Trauma
So this is more about who you text and what you ultimately put into your conversation, but MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle studies have shown that texting can help process trauma. The reasoning seems to be a combination of some of the generally considered negative aspects of texting.
Isolation allows you to think deeply about something, and detachment lets you see a traumatic event from multiple perspectives. Then the possibility of instantly telling someone how you feel without fear of being judged to your face creates an easy concoction for the healthy processing of trauma.
30. While Under the Influence, We Text Differently
Most people, at some point, have received or sent a drunk text. It’s a part of society that can’t be avoided due to the inhibition-lowering influence of alcohol. But it goes a step further. Infamously able to reduce a person’s sound judgment skills, sending a risky text is easy when a little tipsy.
And therein lies a big player in the psychology of texting. People often refer to their “drunk” version as a completely different person, and that’s especially true for texting. With a bit of liquid courage, sending a text that you won’t send when sober becomes acceptable because your brain quite literally edges you on to do it. Well, your brain and that drink you just had.
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31. Our Personalities Match How We Text
Ever heard of the Briggs and Myers personality system? Well, it all boils down to this. There are a total of 16 different personality types that everyone falls into based on a few aspects. These include personality traits such as being an extrovert or introvert to either a thinking or feeling person.
Their system seems to match how people text. Your texting personality is more like your real one than most would like to believe. Yes, your texting habits reveal your personality, which means that although you think texting is just that, it’s a way for someone to quickly sum up who you actually are.