text messaging


text messaging

also called  texting 
 act of sending short messages with cellular telephones (mobile telephone) using the Short Messaging Service (SMS), which has a limit of 160 characters per message.

      SMS was developed in the United Kingdom in the late 1980s, and the first text message was sent on Dec. 3, 1992. An SMS commercial service was launched in the United Kingdom in 1995. Text messaging did not take off, however, until it became possible to send messages between the four main British cellular telephone networks in 1998. The number of messages sent in the United Kingdom grew from 1 billion in 1999 to some 30 billion in 2005. In the United States text messaging emerged later but expanded rapidly. From 30 million messages sent in the United States in June 2001, the monthly traffic grew to about 7.3 billion in 2005 and 14 billion in 2008. Worldwide, the number of text messages sent each year is approaching one trillion, and the major wireless companies report that users now do more texting than talking on their cell phones.

      Because typing text into a telephone keypad was cumbersome and the number of characters in a text message was limited, a form of shorthand evolved, especially among young people. This included such shortcuts as UR for “your” or “you're,” IMHO for “in my humble opinion,” BTW for “by the way,” and CUL8R for “see you later,” as well as the employment of “emoticons,” or “smileys,” to express emotions. Even the plots of major literary works were being condensed into short text messages for use as a study aid. Meanwhile, educators were banning cell phones from the classroom to discourage cheating, and there was concern that standards of English would drop as text abbreviations entered the mainstream.

      In addition to basic communication and entertainment, other uses for text messaging were developed, including the announcement by activists of demonstrations on the streets of China, Ukraine, and Kuwait and clandestine flirting in societies in which informal contact with the opposite sex was frowned upon. In South Africa counselors were sending information on patients' use of antiretroviral drugs to combat HIV/AIDS (AIDS) through text messages to researchers at Cape Town University. Through text messages Indian politicians were being summoned by staff members to vote on new laws or make up a quorum in Parliament. A new computer system was being rolled out in the United Kingdom that would enable text reminders of criminal court sessions to be sent to witnesses. In May 2005 AMBER Alert warnings of child abductions in the United States began to be sent by text to those who chose to receive them, while Indonesia planned to use text messaging to spread early warnings of impending disasters. Individual politicians around the world—even the pope—were making use of text messaging. Shortly after his inauguration in April 2005, Pope Benedict XVI sent a “thought of the day” text message, a service that had been started by his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, in 2003.

      With so many messages being sent, it came as no surprise that overactive texters around the world were developing a form of repetitive-strain injury. The American Society of Hand Therapists warned in January 2005 that overuse of handheld devices could lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis and advised users to switch hands frequently and take hourly breaks.

       Text messaging acronyms Text messaging acronymsA selection of text messaging acronyms is provided in the table.

Alan Stewart Ed.
 

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Universalium. 2010.

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