Hyper Texting Linked to Teen Smoking, Drinking, Sex
Teens who text more than 120 times per school day have been found by researchers to engage in risky social behaviors that include smoking, drinking and sex. the findings suggest texting creates more health hazards than previously known. The study also shows teens who spend excessive time on social sites are more prone to depression, suicide and other health risks.
Many of the teens studied who engage in hyper-texting are from low-socioeconomic backgrounds, minorities, and without a father living in the home. Excessive texting was found in 19 percent of the teens surveyed, and excessive use of social networking sites was found in 11.5 percent of those studied. The sampling was from an urban Midwestern County.
Unchecked Texting and Time on Social Sites could Affect Teen Health
After analyzing behaviors of teens who spend more than 3 hours a day texting or on social sites, the researchers concluded, "when left unchecked texting and other widely popular methods of staying connected can have dangerous health effects on teenagers."
Scott Frank, MD, MS, lead researcher on the study and director of the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine Master of Public Health program says, "This should be a wake-up call for parents to not only help their children stay safe by not texting and driving, but by discouraging excessive use of the cell phone or social websites in general."
Specific findings include a 40 percent higher association between hyper-texting and trying cigarettes, double the chance of trying alcohol, and a 43 higher chance of teen binge drinking. In addition, teens were 90 percent more likely to have had four or more sexual partners, 41 percent more likely to have used illicit drugs and 55 percent more likely to have been engaged in a physical confrontation compared to teens who spend less time texting and social networking.
Dr. Scott called the findings "startling". Just over eleven percent of teens studied spend 3 or more school hours on social networking sites that the researcher say can also lead to higher levels of depression, suicide, and poor academic performance in addition to the health risks seen in teens who spend an excessive amount of time texting. Smoking was 62 percent higher; alcohol use 79 percent, binge drinking 69 percent, drug use 84 percent, fighting 94 percent, sex 60 percent more likely and having more than four sexual partners was quadrupled.
Both hyper-texting and hyper-networking are linked to risky teen behaviors, according to the study findings. Teens who spend less time on social sites and less time texting have fewer health risks, even if they are less connected. The best health outcomes were found among teens who spend no time texting or on social networking sites.