Is Texting Harmful?

I've been thinking a lot about this topic lately.  I've observed kids (and adults) that are SO attached to their devices that they kind of lose site of the reality around them.  I know I've experience this with my iPad.  Is that a bad thing?  The person IS interacting with someone (or something), just through a different medium.  But that's different than eye-to-eye interaction.  It's hard to build intimacy through a text message isn't it?  Plus isn't it rude to be with someone else and dividing your attention between them and your offline conversation?  I've been at family gatherings where the kids are so busy texting that they aren't interacting with each other.  That's sad from the way I remember being raised and having so much fun with my cousins, etc.  I try to never respond to my phone during dinner, a movie, or time with family. For me text messaging is great because it allows me and my girlfriend to interact throughout the day without interfering with each others schedules.  She can text me back when she's not busy with a student and if I'm busy in a "train of thought" at work I can ignore the text for a little bit and respond later.  It's not a distraction for us because we limit the interruptions to maybe a dozen or so a day.   But what happens to your brain when you are constantly texting and feel the need to immediately respond?  Is your brain rewired to always respond to the stimuli and you feel the impulse to do something about it?  How does this affect your real-world interactions?  Plus... what about all the time lost?  I know that after I've spent too much (unproductive) time on the computer or my iPad (playing "We Rule") I feel kind of depressed.  Like... wow... I just wasted all that time and I could have been hiking, playing guitar, or working in the yard.

Then again, some may question if it's a waste of time.  Is FaceBook a waste of time?  Isn't it a good tool for interacting with someone?  Or is it just NOISE that we otherwise wouldn't be "wrapped up" in?  I know I've spent many hours typing responses to messages that ultimately I really don't care about and I probably wouldn't have interacted with this person anyway.  In fact I recently "pruned" my FaceBook list to prevent just this kind of wasted time.

So... give me your thoughts.  I want to hear from those of us that grew up in the generation where we played outside and some dirt and a stick was sufficient entertainment to those who need constant entertainment and stimuli.  Of course, I don't want you wasting too much time.  So make it quick! :)