An interesting take on the preference for texting over talking can be found in this article by Bizzuka.
Some key points to take away:
Smartphone owners aged 18-24 send and receive 4,000 messages per month.
43% of 18-24 year-olds say that texting is just as meaningful as an actual conversation with someone over the phone.
42% of teens say the primary reason they have a cell phone is for texting. Safety was second at 35%.
These and other statistics about millennials are sourced here.
Millennials aren’t the only ones who text, though. According to Factbrowser, statistics reveal that US smartphone owners who use text (92%) send an average of 111 messages per week, and 49% of those who use social media daily would rather text than call someone.
More evidence that texting is not a fad but rather an often preferred mode of communication that’s here to stay.
The famous pro-football championship game that aired last night (honestly, it’s unclear whether we’re allowed to use the trademarked name in our blog, so let’s err on the side of caution, shall we? ) is arguably watched for its commercials just as much as it is for the game itself. As usual, this year’s game produced a number of ads that are generating lots of conversation, both good and bad. It was a great year for ads that focused on social awareness. For instance the “Make it Happy” ads by Coca Cola advocate for positivity in response to bullying on the internet and social media. The “Like a Girl” ad reminds society to stop using that phrase as an insult. And after a year of controversy surrounding the NFL’s handling of domestic violence, there were ads tackling that topic as well.
Last week the organization NOMORE.org released a very powerful ad, which was also shown during the game. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out below.
This is easily one of the most compelling, important tv spots I’ve seen in a long time. When I first watched it I felt sad, scared, and anxious as I listened to the exchange between the woman and the 9-1-1 operator. It’s one thing to understand what domestic violence is, but it’s quite another thing to hear the call for help.*
There are several messages I took away from the commercial. How isolating domestic violence is, for instance. Or how resourceful and resilient survivors of domestic violence are. But for me the most resounding message came at the end of the ad with the text on the screen: “When it’s hard to talk, it’s up to us to listen.”
Finding the strength to speak up can be difficult. Finding someone who can listen, who can read between the lines if necessary in order to help — that’s even harder. And we know that helpline workers use their expert skills to do this with clients every day, not just when it comes to domestic violence, but in identifying child abuse, or thoughts of suicide. You’re able to weed through their words, to pick up on the slightest hint of what’s below the surface, and uncover the deeper issue.
But there are lots of times when a verbal conversation just isn’t possible at all. The woman portrayed in the ad was able to make an excuse to use the phone, and cleverly found a way to call for help without her abuser realizing it. There’s a reason why efforts are underway to enable texting to 9-1-1. Local law enforcement and emergency services are recognizing that in some situations, a phone call is dangerous or impossible.
More and more, help seekers reach out via chat or text instead of a phone call, too. Sometimes because of personal preference, and sometimes because silence is necessary. The instance shown in the ad is just one example; certainly chat or text has been used by those affected by domestic violence to reach out for online emotional support, or even receive emergency rescue during a violent incident. But there are other scenarios where this might be needed, and they may not all be as dire as the call in the commercial.
Think of the teen who wants to discreetly discuss his sexuality without risking a parent or sibling listening in on the conversation. Or the young woman at a party who is feeling anxious and upset, but can’t verbalize that to the friends she’s with and doesn’t want others to overhear. A child may have just been bullied in the hallway at school, and they find it much easier to hop on a library computer for a chat session than it is to make a phone call.
There are plenty of instances where someone needs to talk, but they can’t say the words outloud. It’s important that we be there to listen through the channels the help seekers want to use.
* While the call in the commercial feels very real, it is actually a re-enactment of a real call to 9-1-1
On the blog today we welcome Christopher Kurzum of CONTACT of Mercer County, NJ to give us an update on an exciting project called “TxtToday.” iCarol supports this project through providing the platform and assisting in some coordination in helping centers join this network. We also recently participated in their workshop about TxtToday at the NASCOD/CUSA conference in Nashville. Check out Chris’s update, below:
“TxtToday is the new national texting warmline from CONTACT of Mercer County, NJ in partnership with iCarol. We have been working closely with CONTACT The Crisis Line of Jackson, MS on a pilot program to test out the national texting portal. We have had great success in our beta testing and are planning to conduct longer tests utilizing role plays to practice “real life” scenarios.”
“We are also pleased to announce that as a result of our presentation at the NASCOD/CUSA conference, TxtToday now has two additional centers that are going to participate with us in the pilot program, which runs through the end of this year. Both the Idaho Suicide Hotline and the Family Service Association in Pennsylvania will be joining our beta testing. We are very excited to be working with them as well.”
“In the next few weeks, CONTACT of Mercer County, NJ plans on running tests with the three participating centers. We anticipate that these tests will run smoothly and help us identify any areas for improvement. Our next steps are to continue our pilot program and to also apply for grants for TxtToday. We have a number of interested centers that would like to work with us, and when grants are obtained we plan on subsidizing the cost of the network so that we may begin running the program live in early 2015.”
“We would like to thank the centers that are participating in our pilot program with us as well as iCarol for their continued support in this endeavor.”
If you’d like to learn more about TxtToday, or want to learn more about joining the network,
If you’re going to be in Orlando for the 28th National Conference on Problem Gambling in July, be sure to stop by and say hi to Donna and Eliisa from iCarol who will be there for the pre-conference festivities and the pre-conference reception. We’re proud to be a part of this event; the largest and oldest conference of its kind bringing together leaders in prevention, education, treatment, responsible gaming, research, and recovery.
We’ll be joining the Pre-Conference which is focused on the work of helplines. On Wednesday July 9th we’ll present a session titled “Strategic Issues in Helpline Text, Chat and Operations” where we’ll cover the important trends we’re seeing in Helpline operations. We’ll discuss our experience with the dramatic shift towards offering help through multiple channels, such as Chat and Text messaging. This is in response to the near-ubiquitous nature of cell phones and the increasing popularity of gambling sites and apps — people are nowadays often holding their phone and/or online when they need help. Our presentation will be followed by a separate presentation by iCarol clients from the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling and Bensinger Dupont and Associates who will present chat and texting demonstrations.
With every event we attend we continue to be amazed by the diversity in the helpline services available for so many different needs and issues in communities all across the world. Problem gambling helplines are doing wonderful work to strengthen families and improve health and wellness by reducing the economic, social, and personal costs caused by problem gambling. We’re sure it’s going to be another exciting and educational event. See you there!
iCarol is more than a product that helps you manage the many facets of running your helpline. We’ve worked on helplines so we know the challenges you face. From our iCarol user community to our industry white papers and downloadable guides to our blog, we care about bringing you relevant content that will help you enhance and grow the services you provide to your clients and communities.
In our latest endeavor to bring you helpful material, we’re partnering with CONTACT USA (CUSA) to provide a series of webinars covering important topics in the areas of Helpline Management, Information and referral, and Online Emotional Support (Chat and Texting).
The first of these webinars, scheduled for May 20th, will focus on Online Emotional Support, why you should be providing this service, and how you can integrate this new channel into your existing services. iCarol pioneered the efforts in the helpline industry to integrate chat and texting capabilities with the longstanding avenue of phone calls. CONTACT USA is the leader in Online Emotional Support training and accreditation. Together we have the tools and expertise you need to turn the idea of offering these services to your community into a reality.
Anecdotal evidence from crisis centers around the country has shown that for many years young people have seemed reticent to reach out to a telephone hotline. Additionally, people of all ages may feel more comfortable with the additional layer of anonymity and ease of access afforded by communicating through a computer. This includes people that may have social anxieties, may be deaf or hard-of-hearing or living with other disabilities that make verbal communication more challenging.
So we hope you’ll save the date and join us and CONTACT USA on May 20th to learn more about this exciting time for our industry. Can’t wait? Join us for one of our webinars to show you iCarol’s messaging capabilities or contact us to schedule a private walk through.
This year iCarol is particularly excited to present a special lunch session on Friday April 11th. Our workshop is Chat, Texting, Mobile and Social: A look at today and the future of online emotional support with iCarol.
With every passing year, the use of new channels to seek help continues to expand. Join this session to help your crisis center evaluate these channels, determine your next steps and plan your technology choices to adapt to the evolving Online Emotional Support (OES) landscape. You’ll hear from your peers and technology experts about the best way to get started serving people interactively using the electronically written, rather than the spoken word.
Adding new channels by which your clients can reach you can be intimidating and may leave you with a lot of questions. We hope to answer the questions you may have about these new technologies and give you confidence to embark on this new and exciting path with the tools iCarol has developed. We hope you’ll join us for this session at AAS! Not attending the conference but still want to learn more about our Online Emotional Support capabilities? Sign up for a webinar!
Recently we announced the availability of several exciting new capabilities related to Texting/SMS in your iCarol system:
Send a text message (SMS) to your callers from a follow-up task attached to a call report. Best practices from suicide prevention professionals show that proactive follow-ups can reduce risks to suicidal callers.
Send ad hoc text messages to your staff and volunteers, and allow them to receive automated iCarol notifications like shift reminders by text message. As many people now check email less frequently, this is an important new channel for them to use.
See the total text message usage for your iCarol system. If you have any feature enabled that can generate Text/ SMS messages, you can now go to the Statistics -> Messaging page to see how many are being sent and received.
If you also have iCarol Messaging (SMS), then when people respond to these outbound text messages, their responses will come into your Messaging queue. If not, they will receive an auto-responder indicating responses are not monitored.
To turn on these features and learn more about using Text Messaging/SMS at your helpline, go to the Admin Tools page and click on the new Messaging tab. Please note that Text Messaging / SMS traffic can result in additional charges from iCarol as well as for the recipient from their mobile phone service provider. If you have any questions, feel free to contact the iCarol Support Team by logging a case.