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Hyper-texting and Hyper-networking Linked to Drug/Alcohol Abuse

New research reveals that teenagers who text 120 times a day or more (which many teens do nowadays) are more likely to have had sex or used alcohol and drugs than teens who don't send as many messages.

The study is not suggesting that "hyper-texting" leads to sex, drinking or drugs, but it's shocking to see an apparent link between excessive messaging and this kind of risk-taking behavior. The study asserts that a significant number of teenagers are very susceptible to peer-pressure – and also have permissive or absent parents.

The study was conducted at 20 public high schools in the Cleveland area in 2009, and is based on confidential paper surveys of more than 4,200 high school students. It found that about 1 in 5 students were hyper-texters (i.e, those who text more than 120 times a day) and about 1 in 9 are hyper-networkers (i.e., those who spend 3 or more hours a day on Facebook and other social networking websites). About 1 in 25 are both hyper-texters and hyper-networkers.

Hyper-texting and hyper-networking were more common among (a) females, (b) minorities, (c) children whose mothers/fathers have less education, and (d) children from a single-mother household.

The study found that those who text at least 120 times a day are nearly 3½ more likely to have had sex than their friends who don't text that much. Hyper-texters were also more likely to:

• use illegal drugs
• take medication without a prescription
• binge drink
• engage in physical fights

Compared to the hyper-texters, the hyper-networkers were not as likely to have had sex, but were more likely to have been involved in other risky behaviors like drinking or fighting.

Other studies have found that:

• about one-quarter of teenagers have "sexted" (i.e., shared sexually explicit photos, videos and chat by cell phone or online)
• about one-third of 16- and 17-year-olds send texts while driving
• approximately half of children ages 8 to 18 send text messages on a cell phone in a typical day and average 118 texts per day
• only 14 % of children have a parent that sets rules limiting texting

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

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