Teens take to texting

The cell phone is a teen's version of an electronic security blanket.
"If I leave the house without my phone, I feel like I'll need it," said 14-year-old Toni Abernathy, of Hickory. "... I think it isolates you sometimes. You're off in your own little bubble."
Abernathy was a contestant in The Hickory Foundation YMCA's texting competition Saturday, which challenged participants to type text messages as fast as possible.
As the teens practiced their fancy-finger work for the competition, they revealed just how attached they are to their cell phones and the texting messaging medium.
"I think there may be a sport with technology, but a lot of our generation is getting fat off (fast food)," Abernathy said, adding that she stays active with a balanced lifestyle of soccer and running.
The YMCA expected 200 people to participate, but only 11 competitors signed up for the event, despite the popularity of the messaging medium.
Abernathy's sister, 11-year-old Darian, also participated in Saturday's texting competition. She said texting and video games make outdoor activities scarce among children her age.
"Kids are spending way too much time indoors, even though I'm one of those kids," she said.  
 Ryan Zifko, an intern at the YMCA's C.O. Miller Center, where the texting event was held, isn't a fan of text messaging.
"I wouldn't consider it a sport," Zifko, 14, said. "Burping isn't a sport, but they still have burping competitions."
Zikfo prefers phone calls or person-to-person contact to text messaging, because of texting's impersonal nature.
"When you do hang out (in person), it makes it worth it," he said. " ... Most of the time, if someone is texting while they're talking to you, you're going to think 'What the heck? I'm trying to tell you something.'"
Other teen texters agreed there is a certain code of conduct when it comes to using cell phones during a personal conversation with someone else.
"When I'm at church or talking with older people, I don't use my cell phone," Abernathy said. "It's out of respect."