The Role of Technology (Texting) in Prevention Efforts

Shana Ingram, BA

Shana Ingram, BA

Based on recent statistics from Pew Research Center (2018b), in 2002, 62% of adults in the United States owned a cellphone, and, in 2011, 35% owned a smartphone. Currently, 95% of adults in the US own a cellphone and 77% own a smartphone. This substantial increase in mobile technology ownership demonstrates the growing presence of technology in our lives. In addition to more people owning cellphones and smartphones, people are increasing the amount of times they access the internet each day. Recent polls found that, in 2018, 26% of adults report being online frequently every day, while in 2015, 21% reported frequent daily usage (Pew Research Center, 2018a). Although younger adults are commonly thought of as the age group seeking out the most screen time, adults aged 30 to 49 increased their frequent daily internet usage from 24% to 36% from 2015 to 2018, and adults aged 50 to 64 increased their frequent daily internet usage from 12% to 17% during this same time (Pew Research Center, 2018a).

Although this growing dependence on technology has been associated with harmful effects such as cyberbullying (Siegle, 2010), the positive benefits that can be gained from increased accessibility to information and resources should not be overlooked. For example, some programs rely solely on technology or minimal support to administer therapy while some clinicians and therapists utilize technology to assist them in their therapeutic practice. For those that use programs to replace the therapist, results from one study have shown that patients who experienced the interactive technology program improved more across stress, depression, and anxiety symptoms as well as in daily functioning than participants who received only information (Proudfoot et al., 2013). For those who use technology in conjunction with conventional therapeutic practices, results from one study found that combining technology with family therapy led to greater decreases in depression symptoms than family therapy alone, however results did vary by ethnicity and participant gender (Eisendorf et al., 2003). In addition to these benefits, the addition of texting features to hotline numbers provides a great prevention resource for individuals, especially for those who are unable to reach out for assistance through a phone call. Although there are many reasons why someone may not be able to seek assistance through a phone call, one article noted that text hotlines are essential for people with hearing impairments and for those who do not feel safe discussing personal information when it could be overheard (Park, 2016). Since hotlines provide vital information and support for a wide range of issues (e.g., depression, trauma, suicidal ideation, domestic violence), and since these issues, especially when left untreated, are linked to suicidal ideation and attempts Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017 (CDC), using technology to increase the availability of resources is essential.

Below are some important numbers to know that provide support via text messaging.

Every texter is connected with a Crisis Counselor, a real-life human being trained to bring texters from a hot moment to a cool calm through active listening and collaborative problem solving. All of Crisis Text Line’s Crisis Counselors are volunteers, donating their time to helping people in crisis.

Please share these so that others are aware of the resources available to assist them.

Crisis Text Line
741741 (HELLO)

HopeLine
919-231-4525 (call or text)
1-877-235-4525 (call or text)

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Preventing suicide. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/features/preventingsuicide/index.html

Eisendorf, C., Czaja, S. J., Loewenstein, D. A., Rubert, M. P., Arguelles, S., Mitrani, V. B., & Szapocznik, J. (2003). The effect of a family therapy and technology-based intervention on caregiver depression. The Gerontologist, 43(4), 521-531.

Park, M. (2016). Crisis text line takes suicide prevention into the age of texting. USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2016/06/24/crisis-text-line-takes-suicide-prevention-into-age-texting/83766122/

Pew Research Center. (2018a). About a quarter of U.S. adults say that they are ‘almost constantly’ online. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/14/about-a-quarter-of-americans-report-going-online-almost-constantly/

Pew Research Center. (2018b). Mobile fact sheet. Retrieved from https://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/

Proudfoot, J., Clarke, J., Birch, M., Whitton, A. E., Parker, G., Manicavasagar, V., Harrison, V., Christensen, H., & Hadzi-Pavlovic, D. (2013). Impact of a mobile phone and web program on symptom and functional outcomes for people with mild-to-moderate depression, anxiety and stress: A randomized controlled trial. BMC Psychiatry, 13, 1-12.

Siegle, D. (2010). Cyberbullying and sexting: Technology abuses of the 21st century. Gifted Child Today, 33(2), 14-65.



Categories: Columns, prevention

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