Friday, April 8, 2011

Technology Lesson: The Basics of Text Messaging

Text messaging is a popular form of communication, but if you're unfamiliar with your phone (or simply prefer talking), it can seem daunting. If you're unfamiliar with what texting is, here is a technical explanation from Tech Republic:
Text messaging, also known as "Texting" or more formally as Short Message Service (SMS), is the process of sending simple text messages between mobile phones. Another form of mobile text messaging is Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) which allows people to send photos, ring tones, and movies directly from one mobile phone to another without using the Internet. The focus of this white paper is on SMS since nearly all cell phone subscribers, throughout the world, own handsets which have the capability to send and receive SMS text messages.
Texts are short messages sent from one cellular phone to another. Sometimes text messages include photo or video. And sometimes you can send a text from your phone to a person's e-mail inbox.

You can use the service to make Twitter updates and send direct messages (DMs) through Twitter (do be careful), download ringtones, and update Facebook. You can receive pictures of your adorable niece, news stories...and spam.

You may have to pay a fee to send and receive texts, depending on your service provider. Some networks (like mine) allow free texting to in-network users. You may also be allowed to purchase a block of texts (500 each month, for example), or unlimited texting. You'll have to consult your provider for more information.

Keep in mind that like talking on the phone, texting has its own set of etiquette rules. Though discreet, it's not polite to text at the dinner table or a social event with friends. Where and when varies of course. (Texting on public transit is fine, which is great since talking on transit may be considered rude. Texting at a sports game is OK, but at a personal party is probably not.) You may want to clear texting permission with new friends or less phone restrictions. Some people only like to text in network (I prefer in-network and an out-of-network sister), whereas some people don't want to receive or send texts at all (but have not blocked the service). Some may have texting for emergencies only, or have a limit on texting through the provider. It may seem dorky to Young People, but it's very thoughtful to make a polite inquiry.

Of course, Old People have the best sense of decorum, so keep a level head, and you'll be able to enjoy your new life in texting freedom.

Additional Resources:
Going Mobile: Text Messaging Basics For Business, Tech Republic
Now’s A Good Time To Turn Off Your Twitter DM Text Messages, If You Don’t Want To Embarrass Yourself, Gizmodo
When To Whip It Out: A Practical Guide to Using Cellphones in Social Situations, Gizmodo

1 comment:

Ani said...

Good post. I've noticed that there are a bunch of phones specifically recommended and configured for seniors.
One, Tracfone's Senior Value Phone seems pretty simple and inexpensive; less than $20. Jitterbug and others charge more.

As baby boomers age, I'd imagine the technolgy will try to accomodate them, too, but simple phones for the non-tech savvy seem to be a new addition to the market.