I just texted to say “I love you”

Heh. In a Wired News story today, there’s a piece about the culture of kids and mobile phones. Dig this incident between a mother and her daughter:

Dr. Cathryn Tobin of Toronto, Canada, said her three children — ages 10, 12 and 14 — all have cell phones because “it gives me a great deal of peace of mind to be able to reach them.”

She added that her youngest daughter, Madison, happens to be the most responsible with the phone. Madison always takes it with her and is constantly recharging it.

She is also quite savvy with it: One day Madison had a tiff with her mother. As she sulked in the back seat of the car, she punched a message on her phone. Some seconds later, her mom’s phone — in the front seat of the car — beeped and Tobin received this text message: “I’m sorry, mom.”

It makes me think of some of the covert ways I myself have used texting to communicate. Once, in a bar, I was sitting next to a friend, and we were talking to a couple we know. At one point, I wanted to say something privately to my friend — but figured whispering in his ear would look a little rude. So I just wrote a short message to him (using T9, I can touch-type on my phone without looking at it, holding it under the table) and sent it to him. His phone buzzed, he looked at the screen, and got the message quietly and privately.

But also, this piece makes me think … jesus, is it really such a great idea to hand radiation-emitting devices to young kids with growing brains? Granted, there’s no scientific proof that they cause any genetic damage or whatnot. But that’s partly because the phone companies frantically quash anything that comes up, and actively campaign to discredit any studies that unearth troubling findings. Earlier this year, I profiled Louis Slesin, the editor of The Microwave News, for Shift magazine — the article is here. Give it a read; Slesin is a smart guy with a scientific pedigree who’s been following the wireless industry for years … and he’s scared shitless.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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