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One of the social benefits of texting

 

Narrator:       This is Science Today. Poor spelling skills and reckless driving are just a few of the reasons that text messaging tends to get a bad rap in today's society. But one social welfare professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has found a benefit to texting. Adrian Aguilera is a clinical psychologist who treats low-income communities for depression. He developed an intervention program in which his patients were sent automated text messages prompting them to think and reply about their moods.

Aguilera:       We've been sending people one message a day asking simply what is your mood right now, on a scale of one to 10.

Narrator:       Aguilera is using text messaging to supplant a more traditional mode of treatment, where patients keep a daily written diary of how they're feeling. His patient response rate with text messaging was 65 percent, which is very high compared to 20 or 30 percent with the paper and pencil method. He says two things account for this.

Aguilera:       It's relatively easy — right, so if you receive a message you can quickly type in the number and hit reply. The other issue is this sense that it seems more of a personal thing.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.