Provocative new research indicates that teens who text 120 times a day or more are more likely to have had sex or used alcohol and drugs than kids who don’t send as many messages.
Is this yet another proof of the downside of social media for teens?
Text Messaging Linked To Risky Behaviors
Dr. Scott Frank, the study’s lead author, is careful to add that he’s not suggesting hyper-texting leads to sex, drinking or drugs, but he does say that it’s startling to see an apparent link between excessive messaging and some risky behaviors.
Frank is an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. This study was done at 20 public high schools in the Cleveland area last year, and based on more than 4,200 confidential paper surveys of students.
Dr. Frank presented his findings at the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) annual meeting on Tuesday.
Hyper-Texters More Likely To Have Sex, Do Drugs
The survey found that 19.8 percent of these students sent over 120 text messages a day, making them “hyper-networkers.” It further revealed that “teens who are hyper-networkers are 62 percent more likely to be binge drinkers, 84 percent more likely to have used illicit drugs, 94 percent more likely to have been in a physical fight, 69 percent more likely to have had sex and 60 percent more likely to report four or more sexual partners,” according to the APHA.
The study concluded that a significant number of teens are very susceptible to peer pressure and also have permissive or absent parents. “If parents are monitoring their kids’ texting and social networking, they’re probably monitoring other activities as well,” said Frank.
Good luck on monitoring your kids’ text messaging, Dr. Frank!
How To Define Hyper-Texting?
As a high school teacher, these numbers make me nervous. Not because of the basic findings of the report, which, if true, are disturbing.
But let’s be sure how we are defining hyper-texting. Anyone who is around teens (not to mention people in their 20s, 30s, etc.) know that texting is their preferred means of communication. My students can’t wait for the bell to ring, so they can pull our their phones.
Really, How Unusual Is 120 Texts A Day?
Thus 120 texts a day sounds pretty normal. In fact, a survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in 2009 revealed that one in three teens is sending more than 100 texts a day. That was last year, so I can only imagine what the percentage might be this year.
What do you think? Is texting really that risky?