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Sore Thumbs and Texting 170

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the my-wrists-are-killing-me dept.
Ant writes "ABC News reports that text messaging, once seen as a way to send a short message without running up the expense of a cellular telephone/cell phone call, has become so popular that it poses its own public health problem: sore thumbs. This comes from a survey and warning put out by Virgin Mobile, one of the largest cellular service providers in Great Britain. Virgin reports that 93 million text messages are sent every day in the United Kingdom (U.K.). One estimate for the United States (U.S.), whose population is five times as large, is 700 million text messages a year. "
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Sore Thumbs and Texting

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I used to have this problem all the time in the 80's after too much Nintendo.
    • Exactly, no one even knew the word "ergonomic" back in those days. These texters have it easy...

      Why I had to walk two miles, barefoot, through the snow to get to my controller, and it was uphill, both ways...

  • Oh come on now. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eightyford (893696) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @05:23PM (#14787961) Homepage
    If my thumbs could survive Dr. Mario, Excite Bike, Punch Out and River City Ransom; I'm pretty sure that they can handle a few LOLs, BRBs and WTFs.
    • Heh, first thing that jumped to my mind was Asteroids on the Atari. I remember beating it by wrapping the score... I think at 100,000 points. And those old atari joysticks didn't have thumb friendly buttons either.
      • Atari joysticks were a little different. You moved the stick with your whole hand and pressed the button with your left thumb. You could switch to a finger for the button if your thumb got tired. The NES gamepad was one of the first to use all thumbs, and it was very unergonomic, all square edges.
    • It's not people like you complaining though. It's the millions of people who never played Nintendo or the like suddeny having to use their thumbs.
  • by us7892 (655683) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @05:23PM (#14787962) Homepage
    Has anyone sued the phone maker, text message service, or anyone else they can think of getting money from? Seems like that's the next story we'll see following all thse people with sore thumbs who need someone other than themselves to blame.

    It's just a poll, actually. So they have sore thumbs...big deal.
  • by ironwill96 (736883) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @05:23PM (#14787963) Homepage Journal
    I hate it when people place two statistics side by side as if they are comparable when they really aren't. It is misleading to say U.K. does "73 million messages per day" while U.S. estimate is "700 million per year". The mind tends to think, wow, the U.S. must text message a whole lot more! When, of course, this is not the case. Since, of course, one is a per year statistic and the other a per day statistic.

    /rant off
    • Yeah, that means the UK averages ~ 93 million * 365 days = 33.945 BILLION text messages per year, which is almost 50 times the estimate for the US.
    • I hate it when people miss-quote another author's text. It says 93 Million a day in the UK NOT 73 million a day! The mind tends to think, wow, the author (probably US based), must not be able to remember a figure between reading the article and clicking reply :P

      karem

    • well, 93 million a day. i apologise for being petty.

      texting (sending an sms message) is much more popular in the UK and europe in general than it is in the states, mainly because initially the infrastructure was terrible, a very large proportion of messages were lost when sending abroad or to other networks, this has been resolved but people in general do not have the same sense of trust in the technology as they do in other countries.

      imagine that in your first year of emailing more than half of your em
    • by Vellmont (569020)
      I was able to read those two sentences and know what they meant. "per year" and "per day" are clearly different time period. If you really didn't understand on first read I think you need to slow down a bit, rather than just plowing through the summary and (apparently) reading only every other word. The article is very clear, it's your comprehension that's the problem here.
      • I'm grateful for the GP post pointing this out. I mis-read the article too. Most people don't read a single word at a time -- the important word year can be easily missed, Just as it's common to skip over over repeated words, such as the the. Whilst the summary is factually correct, it is written in a misleading way.

        For more ways of bending the truth, check out Darrell Huff's How to Lie With Statistics [amazon.com].


        • Whilst the summary is factually correct, it is written in a misleading way.


          Only because you're reading too fast and not paying enough attention. Stop skimming and start reading.
      • The article is very clear, it's your comprehension that's the problem here.

        I don't refuse to not disbelieve that the article wasn't factually inaccurate, nor do I fail to forget that logical precision without a lack of disorientation may not rarely be misleading.

        When presenting data, it's not only curteous but absolutely critical to present it in a way that's easily understandable. In some cases, such as the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster [edwardtufte.com], lives may be at stake. (quick summary: Boeing had no data on t

    • Whoops, bad typo there, sorry. I know typos aren't allowed on /. and have NEVER ever occurred here before :-). And yes, I did understand what they meant - but if they are trying to show the U.S. is doing way less text messaging, why not just say so instead of using a statistic right after another one when they aren't directly comparable. Its roughly as useful as me saying "50 oranges were sold last week in the U.S. while 50 apples were sold in the U.K. - the fruit market is indeed doing well!". Ok, so m
    • I'll try to make these figures somewhat comparable.

      Firstly, let's convert the US figure to 'per day':

      700 million / 365 = ~2million sent per day in the US.

      If you then factor in the population difference:

      2 million / 5 = ~0.4million per day for a comparable population size.

      Work out the ratio:

      93million / 0.4million = ~230

      Hence, based on those estimated figures, texting in the UK is approximately 230 times as popular as in the US.
      • The thing I'm curious about is where the 700 million came from. Sounds like it has to be an old statistic.

        Cell Statistics for the USA [w2forum.com]
        Roughly 50 messages per month on average which is a low number in my head.

        Subscriber Stats [newsdial.com]
        Roughly 120 million americans have phones. Sounds like that number has got to be way out of date. I know I personally send over 200 messages a month. Routinely 300 and I'm not considered a heavy texter. Think of all those blackberry users out there.

        I could be way off and this week may

        • Roughly 120 million americans have phones

          Of course, certainly in the European Parliament, many people have two phones and artificially raise the No of texts sent by having to text themselves, so the right hand knows what the left hand is doing!

    • NOt only that, the statistics are WRONG.

      4 billion text messages per month are sent in the US. This is according to the Mobile Messaging Alliance, a industry group of carriers. www.mma.com

      Maybe they ment 700 Million per year for Virgin? Thats about right.
    • I hate it when people place two statistics side by side as if they are comparable

      I personally avoid text messages because I get charged (US, Cingular) for every text message I send or receive. (Being a socio-phobic geek, not that I really have a g/f or a bunch of people I would want sending me inane messages...) I also get charged by the kilobyte for data, be that on the phone itself or (when it works) using the phone as a modem for my laptop. I paid for the 5MB data plan one month - a waste. A simple S
      • What kind of geek are you?

        Read forums, learn where not to get screwed by your cell provider.
        ex:
        I pay $10/mo for Power Vision with Sprint, I get unlimited high speed internet, and I can tether my laptop through the phone.

        To listen to a providers shit about required this or required that is BS -- just talk to a sales rep, call customers service, and you'll eventually get what you want.

        Finally, regarding your 411 Fees: 1-800-free-411
    • A possible reason for the lower amount of texting in the US is that texting across networks is pretty unreliable. Texting between GSM providers in the US seems to work OK, but I have never yet successfully sent a text from my GSM phone to someone on one of these odd non-GSM systems they have in the US. In Britain and Europe, texting just works regardless of provider.
  • from TFA: "If your forearms and hands start to hurt, stop." Seems to be similar to that old doctor, doctor joke "doctor, doctor, it hurts when I do this" "well stop doing it then". Common sense, really. Who doesn't know this?
    • from TFA: "If your forearms and hands start to hurt, stop." Seems to be similar to that old doctor, doctor joke "doctor, doctor, it hurts when I do this" "well stop doing it then". Common sense, really. Who doesn't know this?

      No kidding. Instead of doing all the texting from your phone, use your computer when you can. Many mobile phone providers have a web page from which you can send your message. Otherwise, try one of these services:

      Google SMS [google.com], send to phone extension [google.com] - send web page text to your phone
      TXT2 [txt2day.com]
  • What? (Score:5, Informative)

    by hal2814 (725639) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @05:24PM (#14787972)
    "once seen as a way to send a short message without running up the expense of a cellular telephone/cell phone call"

    My text messages cost 10 cents per message. I'd have to talk for over 2 minutes to cost more than a text message and I can sure relay more information in that two minutes than most can in a text message and even get feedback during that time. Text messages have their uses but being cheaper isn't one of them. Besides, I thought the point of text messages was to annoy others trying to watch a movie in a movie theater.
    • Re:What? (Score:3, Informative)

      In New Zealand text messages cost 20 cents, and one minute of calling costs (off peak) 49 cents or (on peak) $1.29. You must live in one of the lucky countries where calling is cheaper than texting. Plus there are many plans which give huge numbers of "free" texts, and not many "free" minutes.
    • by mcho (878145)

      True that.

      But with a generation growing up with quick, instant messages and text messaging is an extension of that. Sure it may be quicker to just call somone, but new habits are hard to break. Text messaging is the mobile instant messenger.

      Double true that. (Heck, I made a business out of text messaging.)

    • Re:What? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by garcia (6573)
      My text messages cost 10 cents per message. I'd have to talk for over 2 minutes to cost more than a text message and I can sure relay more information in that two minutes than most can in a text message and even get feedback during that time. Text messages have their uses but being cheaper isn't one of them. Besides, I thought the point of text messages was to annoy others trying to watch a movie in a movie theater.

      That's you. T-mobile's Sidekick data plan includes unlimited SMS. Because I use SMS so freq
      • I don't mind people being on the phone in public. I mind people being on the phone loudly in public. I don't mind people having conversations in public. I mind people having conversations loudly in public.

        Personally, I don't think it's the cell phones that are the problem. I think people being rude is the problem. I don't see anything wrong with considerate use of a cellphone in public spaces. My cell phone is my only phone. I have it with me pretty much wherever I go, but I'm polite about its use. I don't
    • Many providers don't charge for text messages, or give you a set amount of free messages to send. 10 cents per message is simply an outrageous amount of money.
      • Sounds like the US enjoys much better value (or is it certain plans?)

        It's about 10 pence (£0.10) a message here if you're not on some kind of plan, that's 17 cents according to Google.

        As for calls, I never make them because a 2 minute call is going to cost me much more than the price of a message. I guess that's why texting is much more popular here since it works out cheaper.
      • Nothing is free. My plan charges 10 cents per SMS but is significantly cheper than plans in my area that include free SMS. The point of the 10 cent per SMS is to get me to fork over $5 - $10 a month for bulk SMS messaging. I refuse to do that as it would put the cost of this phone in line with the cost of plans with free SMS messsaging. I'd get far more minutes out of $5 - $10 a month than I would out of SMS.
    • Bear in mind that this is mainly talking about the UK (where SMS messaging is far more popular than in the US).

      For example, on a 'Pay As You Go' UK phone, it might cost around 10p for a text message, and 40p per minute or more for a cross-network call. It's possible to certainly phone up and speak your message for the same price, but when you factor in added time for general greetings, phone calls can easily end up a lot longer and a lot more expensive than a SMS would have been.
    • Well you see that is where the US is different, I live in Australia and it costs me about $1 per minute to talk on the phone, whereas text messages are 20 cents after my 300 or so free messages.
    • 1) My text messaging is free
      2) I'd rather not get feedback on things I text... it's just like an e-mail, send complete thoughts and once you're done "talking", you get a complete response
      3) Multitasking is much easier when text messaging than it is when talking on the phone (for the reason of #2, you don't have to be prepared to respond to feedback immediately)
  • but now far from it. The ammount of money cellphone carriers make off of the service now is shamefull in relation to normal phonecalls.
    • I worked out a couple of years ago that the amount I was being charged for SMS worked out to about £500/MB. I now tend to use XMPP relayed via my 'phone, which costs a whole lot less even counting the huge overhead involved with XMPP (I can have several minutes of chatting for the cost of a single SMS).
  • I Get way sorer thumbs playing Gran Tourismo...
  • co.'s proposing a tiered text-messaging protocol on account of congestion in their pipes?
  • This just in... (Score:2, Informative)

    by B00yah (213676)
    waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    seriously. That's like complaining about your legs hurting after walking 200ft, because you usually just do laps from the fridge to the couch. You can avoid soreness in your thumbs the same way you avoid soreness everywhere else: stretch your muscles (try shadow thumb wrestling), repetition, and don't go till it hurts. You know when you're getting near that point, just stop there.

    IANAPFE (I am not a physical fitness expert), but I do play a lot of video games, A LOT of video games, and
    • You can avoid soreness in your thumbs the same way you avoid soreness everywhere else: stretch your muscles (try shadow thumb wrestling), repetition...

      You obviously don't know what "repetitive strain injury" is, right?

      One thing is muscle fatigue due to exercise, a VERY DIFFERENT THING is when your joints are about to implode* because you've DAMAGED them.

      * - In a metaphorical sense

      The point with SMS is that the phone buttons are designed NOT to be pressed easily (otherwise you might end up calling long dist
  • video game controllers? Sorry, but there's no way texting is as rough on the thumbs as bingeing on Gran Turismo. maybe for a few 1337 texters who text a couple hundred wpm, but they need to stop with the "texting = public health crisis" line. there's no way it's true.
  • so popular that it poses its own public health problem: sore thumbs

    As opposed to other bodily appendages that have also grown sore because of the Internet?
  • I type on my RIM 950 all day, sometimes even when driving, with no ill effects. It's all about conditioning.
  • I'm really trying to figure out how "sore thumbs" counts as a "public health problem".

    By my definition, a health problem is something that you need medication or a doctor's appointment for. If your thumbs hurt you, taking a break from texting is all you really need. An alternative would be to try holding the phone in your hand a different way- after all, a repetitive strain injury is a repetitive strain injury.

    • However, the substancial drop in IQ from trying to decipher dozens of txts per day may well qualify as a public health problem.

      I think the term is being used as "a health problem that affects the public", i.e. [public (health problem)] rather than [(public health) problem]. Just like the "public obesity problem" that plagues my fellow Americans - it's the problem that's public, not the fat.

  • Poor Filipinos (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Eightyford (893696) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @05:30PM (#14788034) Homepage
    In the Philippines where the average user sent 2,300 messages in 2003, making it the world's most avid SMS nation.
    SOURCE [wikipedia.org]
  • by bobcat7677 (561727) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @05:31PM (#14788045) Homepage
    While it certainly has it's uses. It does seem over-used.

    Pros for me:
    -Have my computer send me alerts.
    -Send a quick e-mail to someone from the road.
    -Send a short message to someone discreetly in a location where talking on the phone would be rude/inappropriate.
    -Get a message through to someone when the reception is there but not good enough to have a conversation.

    Cons for me:
    -Almost have driven off the road on various occasions while trying to punch in a message or read a message. Way more dangerous then just talking.
    -Time consuming to communicate the simplist of concepts.
    -Sore thumbs
    -U.S. carrier pricing on text messages makes it not make much sense economically.
    -Additional way of being in-personal in your communication with other human beings.
    -Short messages can be easilly mis-interpreted. Have gotten several people mad at me for no reason just because they took a brief text message the wrong way.
    • -Almost have driven off the road on various occasions while trying to punch in a message or read a message.

      You send text messages while driving? I wish Darwinism worked a bit more efficiently. Unfortunately, people like you don't just kill themselves, they kill other people too.

      Reading messages while driving is bad enough. Didn't it occur to you to, like, pull over, or maybe get to the next traffic light? That's a major advantage of SMS vs phone calls -- it waits for you.

    • -Almost have driven off the road on various occasions while trying to punch in a message or read a message. Way more dangerous then just talking.

      Yes, in a similar way, a con of lace up shoes is that I often fall off my bike while attempting to tie them and cycle.

      Have you considered the possibility that you might be an idiot?
    • I am intrigued. I get lambasted for having tried to text while driving as if I am a lone idiot doing it (I do avoid it as a rule) ...and yet I see other people on their cell phones, PDAs, and blackberrys while driving almost every day as I drive back and forth to work. Probably the funniest/saddest example to me was a guy on a bicycle who almost got run over because he was weaving into traffic while trying to punch something into his cell phone.
  • My thumb is sore from having to delete the spam messages from my cell phone inbox. The worst part? There's no option to diable text messages since don't I even use that feature. Makes want to suck my thumb.
  • I remember reading it on Gizmodo or somewhere, that a company launched a USB keyboard in Japan, which had its keys placed like a cell phone (its very small, and doesnt need a desk). It seems it was for the people (read teenagers) to chat faster.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Those who're using text messaging should look into the patches that let you enter messages in Morse code with one key and any finger you want to use. Tests have shown that Morsing works much faster than thumbing text and learning to send the code faster than you can thumb the characters is a trivial task.

    Keep in mind that learning to send Morse code is far easier than learning to receive it since you can move at your own pace. In fact, when I took my amateur radio exam back in the distanct past when you wer
    • One character every two seconds? Way too slow. I'll stick to T9 predictive input thank you. And I'm not one of the textaholic types that the article refers to.

      iqu :|
      • One character every two seconds? Way too slow. I'll stick to T9 predictive input thank you. And I'm not one of the textaholic types that the article refers to.

        You must not have seen the Tonight Show episode that pitted two hams (using Morse code) against two people using SMS. Morse code was faster. [engadget.com]

        I suspect that email through a Treo or a BlackBerry would be faster than either of them, due to the availability of a keyboard that makes punching in text much less tedious than on the average cellphone.

  • If our wrists survived the proliferation of web porn, I'm sure our thumbs can handle some text messaging.

    Umm...I mean...because of moving the mouse so much. Yeah, that's it.
  • Virgin reports that 93 million text messages are sent every day in the United Kingdom (U.K.). One estimate for the United States (U.S.), whose population is five times as large, is 700 million text messages a year.

    That's odd... Texting has been practical in the UK much longer than in the US, where for the longest time it simply wasn't possible to send text between networks. There's so much more support for text in the UK and one sees so much more online evidence of a text 'culture' there that it seems unlik
    • That's odd... Texting has been practical in the UK much longer than in the US, where for the longest time it simply wasn't possible to send text between networks. There's so much more support for text in the UK and one sees so much more online evidence of a text 'culture' there that it seems unlikely that its per-capita text message use would be higher

      Yeah, that's why the (albeit confusing) statistics show that US users send far fewer texts than UK users.

      As for your comment about the lack of carrier interop
      • Yeah, that's why the (albeit confusing) statistics show that US users send far fewer texts than UK users.

        Hrm? Not the ones I quoted.

        UK: 93 million
        US: 700 million / 5 = 140 million, accounting for population.

        The population figures wrong, or did the story misquote something?
        • Oh!

          Per day vs per year.

          <emilylatella>nevermind</>

          (goddamn /. ... I tried to post this yesterday as I was leaving but it decided that posting a correction right after a message was abusive or something. It's also got 'issues' with cut-and-paste)
    • I think you're not reading that carefully enough. The summary is very badly written; Virgin reports ... 93 million ... sent every day United States .... 700 million per year.

      Or to normalise the two statistics to the same time base, UK texters send 34 billion texts per year, but US texters only send 0.7 billion per year despite the population being 5 times larger.
  • Virgin Mobile, one of the largest cellular service providers

    Erm, Virgin Mobile is probably one of the smallest networks. It's certainly not one of the largest, and it uses T-Mobile's transmitters rather than having its own.

    iqu :|
    • Erm, Virgin Mobile is probably one of the smallest networks. It's certainly not one of the largest, and it uses T-Mobile's transmitters rather than having its own.

      This is only true for the United Kingdom, where Virgin uses GSM.
      In the United States, Virgin Mobile is CDMA. T-Mobile is GSM. They are incompatible technologies, and Virgin Mobile uses Sprint towers. In Canada they are also CDMA and use Bell towers. I'm not sure what they use in Australia.

      They are also not a "network" per se, as they don
  • Fuck this dumb quasi-news. People have been playing video games at home for the past 25 years and there was no fucking epidemic of sore thumbs. Give me a god damn break. This isn't even news on a slow day.
  • At $0.10 a pop, it is hardly affordble. Figure a conversation takes 20 such messages, that's $2. That's several minutes of talk time, or dozens of minutes spent texting.

    I just don't get it.
    • Many phone plans have an allowance of free texts. Even so, people seldom have a long conversation with texts, normally it's something like 'going 2 the pub 2nite?' with a response of 'yes at 8', EOT. It's also a lot more considerate to text in a public place, such as on the train or the bus because you don't annoy your fellow passengers with annoying ringtones and conversation carried out at the top of your voice.

      The other use of texting is sending messages to lots of people, for example, at the glider club
  • by sweetnjguy29 (880256) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @06:01PM (#14788309) Journal
    ....why am I almost positive that this is not from Text Messaging?
  • ... no, seriously!

    my new samsung a900 has a really functional speech-to-text function for dictating text messages right into the phone.

    not useful for a location where you have to be quiet (the library, etc.), but much easier any other time.

    http://www.samsung.com/Products/MobilePhones/Sprin t/SPH_A900ZKSXAR.asp [samsung.com]
  • While I like the idea of SMS, I hate the user interface on the cell phone. The text input methods are an ugly kludge and the buttons on the phone were designed for some other species.
    • It doesn't seem to be any problems for the teens of today. The thumb are just flying over the keys, it is not exactly one letter pr. second. I guess it is just a matter of getting used to it. I am too old for that crap.
  • by Tim C (15259) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @06:30PM (#14788556)
    everytime I read a comment here bemoaning how many useless features mobile phones have "that nobody use".

    Based on these statistics, people in the UK send roughly 50 times as many text messages each year as people in the US. Factoring in the relative population sizes, on average we send 250 times as many SMSs as you guys do.

    You might not use those "useless features" on your phones, but we most certainly do. Entire message boards exist solely to compare the picture quality and associated features of the various camera phones, which is a serious deciding factor for some people when buying a new phone...
    • In Canada, at least, I have to pay 15 cents per sent message, and pay the same per received message over the first 1,000 a month.

      If I wanted an "all I could eat" unlimited package, I'd have to add 10$ onto my bill -- the equivalent of sending roughly 2 messages per day on the old bill.

      Given that the basic "no text, unlimited evenings/weekends" plan is 25$ + tax, why would I want to add over a third to my cost in order to allow myself to relay information I can easily now?

      I bet providers in the UK charge a f
    • You might not use those "useless features" on your phones, but we most certainly do. Entire message boards exist solely to compare the picture quality and associated features of the various camera phones, which is a serious deciding factor for some people when buying a new phone...

      Oh, really? You have message boards for cellular phones! Wow! It's not like HowardForums [howardforums.com] has 6.54 million posts or anything.

      Also, the statistics are wrong. CITA claims that 7.3 billion messages were sent in the US in October 2005,
  • According to this [itviikko.fi] link (in Finnish), there were 20.5 billion text messages sent in 2003 in UK and in Finland the figure is about a billion per year. The one billion limit was broken in 2001 and you have to remember that the population in Finland is less than six million.
  • US vs Europe (Score:2, Informative)

    by Wellerite (935166)

    As the statistics say (not very clearly), texting is far more popular in the UK (and I would assume Europe, too) than the US. Cue lots of americans saying it's expensive and crap and don't understand why it's so popular.

    Reason is that texting is cheap and universal in Europe (inc. the UK) because of the GSM network prevalent there, plus all sorts of organisations jumping onto the texting bandwagon to encourage people to text more.

  • I got a Treo a couple weeks back, and while I love it overall, I've found that if I do much typing, my wrists start to hurt. (I seem to recall seeing this referred to before as "Blackberry Syndrome" or something?) My thumbs, however, are fine. I wonder if there's a risk for carpal tunnel from prolonged use?

    OT: Giving people unlimited data but charging for text messages is asinine.
  • Ummm, according to CTIA, more than 7 billion texts are sent per month in the US (approx 235 million per month):

    http://files.ctia.org/pdf/Wireless_Quick_Facts_Oct ober_05.pdf [ctia.org]
  • If cell phones made using email as quick and easy as text messaging, would texting have ANY advantages over email? It seems like texting was invented just so the cell companies didn't have to support REAL email. I wish they would abolish texting altogether and do it the right way.

Suggest you just sit there and wait till life gets easier.

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