A few days ago, Brett Favre was fined for his failure to cooperate with an N.F.L. investigation into allegations of sexting. While the N.F.L. found no evidence that Mr. Favre violated workplace conduct policies, 24% of participating employers in a 2009 study by Specialists in Ethics and Compliance Training disciplined employees for using media sites.
The growing popularity of SMS (Short Messaging Service or texting)
In 2000, there were 15 billion text messages sent monthly (Telecommunications Systems, 2001). That number has skyrocketed since then. The Wireless Association estimates that there are 4.1 billion text messages sent daily. Further, more than 50 percent of adults text during any given week. (2009).
Failure to accurately communicate one’s message is the danger to the overutilization of SMS and text messaging
Researchers specializing in the psychology of communications identify computer assisted communications as a means by which people become detached from one another. Baruch (2001) blames communication technology for social alienation.
Potential lawsuits, notwithstanding, there are other dangers to the over-utilization of computer and electronic technologies for communication. King, Marginson and McAuley (2000) suggest that technology filters out cues necessary to fully communicate the content, context and meaning of one’s message. This research is further supported by Tu (2000) and Poster (1996) as they indicate that in even the most well-intentioned messages, misinterpretation and distortion can occur due to the lack of nonverbal cues. The cues that are typically provided by personal contact (of face to face communication) are body language, gestures, vocal tone and eye contact. Haney (1962), argued that additional problems surface as computer assisted communications are subject to omissions, alterations and additions that could be made without the knowledge of the sender.
Getting back to Brett Favre, Christina Scavo and Shannon O’Toole
The Integrity HR Human Resources Blog suggest that employees consider the following:
- Don’t text what you would be too embarrassed to say in person.
- If you are the receiver of an offensive message, report it to your supervisor and HR.
- Text messages as with emails can create permanent legal records for use against you or your company in court.
- Sexting can result in disciplinary action, loss of employment and even fines and jail time (in certain states).
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Baruch, Y. (2001). The autistic society. Information and Management Journal, 38, 129-136.
Haney, W.V. (1962). Serial communication of information in organization. In J.A. Devito (Ed.), Communication: concepts and processes (pp 149-166). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
King, M., Marginson, D., & McAuley, L. (2000). Executives use of information technology: Comparison of electronic mail and an accounting information system. Journal of Information Technology, 15 (2), 149-164.
Poster, M. (1996). the second media age. Cambridge: Polity.
Tu, C.H. (2000). Critical examiniationo f factors affecting interaction on CMC. journal of Network and Computer Applications, 23, 39-58.
HR compliance: Sexting- new name, old game
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