Some teenagers who text more than 120 times a day and spend hours using social media may be more likely to have sex, drink a lot, smoke and feel more stress. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University are studying the link between heavy use of communication technology and risky behavior that can affect kids’ health.
Dr. Scott Frank presented a study at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Denver. Dr. Frank teaches at Case, he’s a family physician, director of a local health department and a substance abuse prevention group. He surveyed 4,257 teenagers at 20 high schools in the Cleveland Ohio area.
Hyper-Texting and Hyper-Networking are two new buzz words for researchers who study teenage behavior. Hyper-Texters are kids who send a lot of messages every day. Hyper-Networking teens spend more than 3 hours a day using online social networks. For many kids, this is no big deal. But here’s what Dr. Frank found:
- 19.8% of teens surveyed are hyper-texting
- 11.5% are hyper networking
- Hyper texting and networking occurred more often among minority students
Among those in the hyper category, here are some of the health risks the research team documented:
- 69% more likely to have sex
- 79% more likely to drink and 69% more likely to be binge drinkers
- 62% more likely to smoke
- 84% more likely to be using illegal drugs
- 94% more likely to get in physical fights
Researchers also say these kids are more often obese, they feel more stress and get less sleep, and they are more likely to get sick and miss school. Dr. Frank notes that kids who text the most and spend hours on social media also report their parents are more permissive. He recommends that parents set rules about how much time their kids spend with the cell phone and the computer.