A recently released study has discovered that teenagers who do an excessive amount of texting are more likely to also be involved in riskier behaviors, including drinking alcohol, experimenting (or worse) with other drugs, and being active sexually, even to the point of promiscuity. This excessive texting is being dubbed “hypertexting”.
(Yes, we know, you thought “hypertext” referred to world wide web links, but hey, it’s not the first time that a term has been co-opted for another use.)
According to the lead researcher, Dr. Scott Frank of Case Western Reserve, “The startling results of this study suggest that when left unchecked texting and other widely popular methods of staying connected can have dangerous health effects on teenagers. 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.”
Frank’s reference to social networking websites refers to their finding that similar risky behaviors are common among those teens who spend more than 3 hours a week on social network sites, which the study refers to as “hypernetworking”.
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The study defines “hypertexting” as sending more than 120 text messages per school day.
In the self-reporting study, teens who texted so frequently also reported that they were smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol (including binge drinking) and engaging in sex with multiple (4 or more) partners.
Specifically, the study reported that “teens who are hyper-texters are 40 percent more likely to have tried cigarettes, two times more likely to have tried alcohol, 43 percent more likely to be binge drinkers, 41 percent more likely to have used illicit drugs, 55 percent more likely to have been in a physical fight, nearly three-and-a-half times more likely to have had sex and 90 percent more likely to report four or more sexual partners.”
What this doesn’t control for is the presence or absence of parental oversight, or even parental caring. Obviously, teens who are left to their own devices for extended periods of time are more likely to get involved in these high risk behaviors, and to spend a lot of time texting with their friends. The same holds true for teens with parents who are on the more permissive end of the spectrum.
Still, for those parents who would be concerned about their teens being involved in these sorts of behaviours, this may be the wakeup call that they need.
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No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free? Thank you!
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