Sex, drugs more common in teens who text a lot
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Tuesday, November 9, 2010 12:08PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 3:09AM EDT
Teens who send out a lot of text messages a day appear to be more likely to have had sex or tried drugs or alcohol than kids who don't send as many messages, according to new research.
The study was based on confidential surveys of more than 4,200 students at 20 public high schools in the Cleveland area.
The surveys asked the teens to estimate how many text messages they sent each day, how much time they spent on social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, and about the other activities they engaged in.
The researchers, from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, defined "hypertexting" as sending more than 120 text messages per school day and found that 19.8 per cent of the teens fell into that category.
They found that "hypertexting" teens were:
- 40 per cent more likely to have tried cigarettes
- two times more likely to have tried alcohol
- 43 per cent more likely to be binge drinkers
- 41 per cent more likely to have used illicit drugs
- 55 per cent more likely to have been in a physical fight
- nearly three-and-a-half times more likely to have had sex
- 90 per cent more likely to report four or more sexual partners
The study also looked at teens who were "hyper-networkers" -- those who spent three or more hours a day on social networking websites. About one in nine teens fit that definition, while about one in 25 were both "hypertexters" and "hyper-networkers."
Compared to the heavy texters, the "hyper-networkers" were not as likely to have had sex. But they were more likely to have been involved in other risky behaviours such as drinking or fighting.
Compared to teens who used networking sites less often, teens who were hyper-networkers were:
- 62 per cent more likely to have tried cigarettes
- 79 per cent more likely to have tried alcohol
- 69 per cent more likely to be binge drinkers
- 84 per cent more likely to have used illicit drugs
- 94 per cent more likely to have been in a physical fight
- 69 per cent more likely to have had sex
- 60 per cent more likely to report four or more sexual partners
Hyper-texting and hyper-networking were more common among girls, minorities, kids whose parents have less education and students from a single-mother household, the study found.
As well, hypertexting and hypernetworking students were more likely: to be obese; demonstrate eating disordered behavior; miss school due to illness; have lower self-rated health; feel unsafe at school; and get less adequate sleep.
Dr. Scott Frank, director of the Case Western Reserve's Master of Public Health program, was due to present the findings Tuesday at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting in Denver.
Ahead of the presentation, Frank told the Associated Press that he and his research team aren't suggesting that "hyper-texting" leads to risky behaviour. But he suggested that hyper-texting and -networking teens may be more susceptible to peer pressure and have permissive or absent parents.
"If parents are monitoring their kids' texting and social networking, they're probably monitoring other activities as well," he said.