The following is a post to the discussion board for my online Principles of Sociology class that I am currently enrolled in. Many of the students in this class do not write on a college level, so I don’t mind bragging on myself or my writing when I say this is probably the best post of any of the other posts thus far. Basically the directions tell us to read an article (found here) and the information found there as well as in our textbook to compose a detailed post to the discussion board. We then have to reply to at least one of our classmates’ posts.

  1. In this blog post, the author refers to research about texting and driving. In particular, she mentions that texting has increased the number of teen driving accidents. Using what you have learned about causation(the process of causing something to happen or exist) versus correlation (a relationship in which two or more things are mutual or complementary, or one thing is caused by another) presented in Chapter 2, describe what steps you would need to take in order to establish a causal (involving or being the cause of something else or the relationship of cause and effect) link between texting while driving and driving accidents among teenagers.
  2. Now, identify an alternative explanation that could lead us to conclude that the link between texting while driving and driving accidents among teenagers is spurious (different from what it is claimed to be, not authentic, or not valid or well-founded).
  3. Using your knowledge of socialization (the process by which individuals internalize the values, beliefs, and norms of a given society and learn to function as members of that society) (chapter 4), what might motivate teens to take risks?

Causation is defined as the process of causing something to happen or exist. The definition of correlation is a relationship in which two or more things are mutual or complementary, or one thing is caused by another. A causal link – causal meaning involving or being the cause of something else or the relationship of cause and effect – can be established between texting while driving and accidents among teenagers by any number of methods. Research is one method to establish this causal link. News reports, statistics, police accident report information where teen drivers were found to have been texting while driving, information found on reliable Internet sites or various other means of media can be used to distinguish a correlation between the two. In the video clip embedded into the article entitled ‘Generation Text’, it was stated that older teenage girls send about 3,000 text messages per day” (Inniss). Upon hearing this, one could assume that of the older teenagers, that are driving age, they’re sending even more text messages than that.

There could be any variation of alternative explanations as to why a teen may get into an accident that may not be related to them texting while driving. Say for instance a teenage girl is putting make-up on in her rearview mirror and she rear ends the driver in front of her. Yes, she was distracted while driving, but not texting. Another explanation could be that maybe she is using her phone to call her mother to remind her that she won’t be coming straight home from school because she has cheerleading practice after school. In scrolling through her phone to get to her mother’s contact (let’s assume she does not have her on speed dial), she unknowingly runs a red light and hits another vehicle. Again, she was utilizing her phone while driving, but not texting. Maybe this was not considered and was recorded as texting while driving because of the manner in which she was utilizing her phone while operating her vehicle.

The concept of socialization is the process by which individuals internalize the values, beliefs, and norms of a given society and learn to function as members of that society (Conley, p. 112). In that definition, we can specifically take the “norms of a given society” and relate that to why teens may text while driving, or just why they text as much as they do even when not driving. Texting seems to be the ‘norm’ for American teens in today’s society. Teens send text messages mostly for enjoyment, as well as to communicate with their peers. It can be ascertained by any number of research methods that teens are texting while driving. That fact cannot be disputed to a certain extent. Teens take risks every day, whether it involves sending text messages while behind the wheel of a car, or doing daring stunts that they record on video, where at times, someone does get hurt or injured. This is how they learn to function as members of the society in which they live. To them, they don’t consider it taking risks, they’re just having fun being teenagers. And I am quite certain that every teen who has been involved in an accident as a result of texting have said to themselves, “It won’t happen to me”; but it does, has, and will continue to happen as long as there is no due regard for safety when it comes to texting while driving.

References

Conley, Dalton. You May Ask Yourself: Thinking Like a Sociologist. 2nd edition. NY: W.W.Norton, 2011.

Inniss, Janice Prince.  Short Text Message: Illusion over Substance. http://nortonbooks.typepad.com/everydaysociology/2010/06/short-text-messages-illusion-over-substance.html.  Accessed August 14, 2012.

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