Texting Teens At Risk For Drinking, Sex And General Hell-Raising

More evidence that texting is totally destroying our nation's youth: kids who do it a lot are more likely to drink, have sex, and get in fights.

On the heels of a study showing that late-night texting can cause insomnia and mood problems in kids, researchers have now found that kids who are "hyper-texters" — that is, who send 120 text or more per day — are more likely to engage in sex, drinking, and physical fights than their peers who text less. They're also more likely to take illegal drugs or abuse prescription drugs. "Hyper-networkers," those who spend three or more hours a day on social networking sites, were even more likely than hyper-texters to drink or fight, but not as likely to be sexually active. And a pretty large chunk of teens fall into these category — in a sample of 4200 kids from Cleveland high schools, one in five was a hyper-texter, one in nine was a hyper-networker, and one in 25 was both.

Predictably, teens say texting is totally innocuous. One high school freshman told the AP "her texts involve non-sexual small talk with friends, homework assignments and student council bake sales." She added, "I text with my mother about what time I need picked up." Also she was totally sleeping over at Stephanie's on Friday — what party? More persuasive is the study authors' caveat that texting doesn't necessarily cause drinking, sex, or fighting — the behaviors are merely linked. And they could be linked by a common risk factor — hyper-texting and hyper-networking were both more common among minorities, kids whose parents have less education, kids from single-parent homes, and, interestingly, girls.

It's quite possible that kids whose parents have less time to supervise them — due to work and/or single-parent status — are both more likely to text and more likely to get in trouble. Which would mean that texting is really just a symptom of a larger problem, the solution to which has to do with remedying social inequality and paying people a living wage so they don't have to work all the time instead of watching their kids. But of course, freaking out about texting is way easier than changing the whole structure of our capitalist society, so let's keep on doing that until the next tech fad comes along.

Sex, Drugs More Common In Hyper-Texting Teens [AP]

Earlier: Late-Night Texting Hurts Kids' Brains

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