Study of high school students links heavy texting and harmful behaviors
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The list of dangers for teens from a heavy daily routine of texting just got longer. Parents, teachers and government officials have warned for some time about not texting behind the wheel, in class or sending messages with sexual content. Now a study says high school students who spend the most time texting or on social network sites (or both) are at risk of worrisome behaviors such as smoking, depression, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, risky sex and absenteeism.
Researchers at a Cleveland university questioned 4,200 students at 20 urban high schools in Ohio. About one-fifth sent at least 120 text messages per school day, one-tenth were on social networks for three hours or more and 4 percent did both. That last group of about 170 teens were at twice the risk of nonusers for fighting, smoking, binge drinking, becoming cyber victims, thinking about suicide, missing school and napping in class.
Just as with other activities by students, selection of friends is pivotal. "It does depend on who they're texting with," stresses Dr. Scott Frank, the lead researcher. "Their choice of friends in the single most important thing. The more texting they do, the more potential for exposure to high-tech peer pressure."
Researcher says: "This is a red flag for parents . . . because they need to be monitoring and taking charge of the choices their kids are making. We want parents to set more restrictive rules for their kids regarding texting and networking." -- Dr. Scott Frank, study' lead author and associate professor at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine
Parent warns: "Texting is not only a powerful way to experiment in conversations you might not have face to face, but also a great tool for finding more trouble than you might otherwise." -- Sheri Reed, Northern California blogger
Teen says: "Just because someone texts a lot doesn't mean they're going to do drugs or drink." -- Jimmy Clements, high school student in Pasco, Wash.
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