A University of Utah study has found that a startling number of Utah teens are too distracted by weaving through freeway traffic to properly send text messages to friends and family.
“Most text messages teens send while hurtling down the interstate are just a huge wreck. They are typically a pileup of misspelled words that leave the reader’s mind paralyzed with confusion,” said University of Utah researcher Cliff Randolph.
Text message recipients expressed dismay about receiving these garbled texts. “I thought my friend wanted me to meet him at the Real Salt Lake game, but it turned out he just wanted to tell me he was driving and eating a really salty latke, which is apparently some kind of Jewish pancake. So I drove clear to Sandy for nothing. It probably didn’t help that I was merging into 80-mph traffic when I read the message,” said Utah teen Daxon Hunter.
Scholars are insistent that something needs to be done to mitigate this problem. “We are starting to reach a crisis point in terms of teens being able to communicate with each other,” said Marcia Bennett, one of the study’s authors. “If this problem persists, teens may find themselves unable to meet up to socialize, which is a critical component of their cognitive and social development. We call on smartphone manufacturers to develop the kind of technology that will allow teenagers to send coherent messages while navigating Utah’s highway system at breakneck speeds.”
The study results also suggest that this kind of distracted smartphone use is not limited to texting. Researchers found that teens were also having a difficult time finding the right Instagram filter while posting photos during left turns at major intersections, and sending poorly composed Snapchat photos while driving down steep canyon roads.