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Arlin Cuncic

Texting and Social Anxiety Disorder

By May 1, 2011

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Do you own a cell phone? Do you prefer voice calls or texting?

A 2004 study published by the University of Plymouth in the UK studied the phone habits of two groups of cell phone users: those who preferred voice calls and those who preferred texting.

Results of the study showed that "texters" (people who preferred texting over voice calls) were more likely to be socially anxious and lonely. Texting helped them to express their real selves, develop new relationships, and develop closer relationships with friends and family.

For those with social anxiety disorder (SAD) texting may be both a help and a hindrance. Texting allows you to communicate in a relatively "safe" way, and may help to deepen relationships that would not otherwise develop.

At the same time, if texting is used exclusively without face-to-face communication, those with SAD may fail to develop social skills and not have a chance to practice and gain experience with social interaction.

What do you think? Is texting helpful or harmful for those with SAD?

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May 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm
(1) Max says:

However convenient the technology is, I sometimes spend ages deliberating over what to write in a text, so it’s not really a helpful form of communication for me. I agree that it’s a bit of a hindrance when wanting to develop better face-to-face social skills, as is something like msn messenger or facebook (personally, I find facebook the least helpful). The fact that one can sit and think about what to say in reply to a text, further removes it from a voice or face-to-face conversation. In the past, the written word has bought me closer to people, however, it hasn’t helped much with the same people in non-virtual situations. Even more unhelpful are the negative voices that I end up having to reason with when my own text isn’t replied to! True, it’s helpful to challenge negative thoughts when trying to cope with SAD, but I find texting alone doesn’t help build up enough social experience in order to cope with a ‘real life’ situation.

May 3, 2011 at 6:31 am
(2) Kieran says:

I really dislike talking on the phone. I dislike the sound of my voice and I worry I’ll run out of things to say (this never seems as big a deal talking in person). Texting is a way of escaping this pressure though, as Max pointed out, it has its own problems. I too agonize over what to write and worry when I don’t get a reply.

May 7, 2011 at 11:48 pm
(3) Will says:

I prefer texting to talking. I get more time to say exactly what I want to say instead of stumbling over my words. And I don’t like talking on the phone because you don’t get as much context; you don’t have body language or eye contact, and there’s usually no mutual activity to accompany the conversation.

But I agree that texting without substantial face-to-face time would aggravate SAD.

May 13, 2011 at 3:42 am
(4) JessicaBarlow says:

Great post! I have anxiety and definitely find texting to be a safe way to communicate. If I am lost for words on the phone to someone it is a horrible experience for me, whereas if I am texting I have time to think properly.
You’re right in that it can be debilitating in terms of developing proper social skills.
I write about my anxiety experiences on my blog: http://jessicabarlow.wordpress.com/
Really enjoyed reading this article, thank-you, Jess.

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