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Hyper-texting linked to risky behaviors

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DENVER, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. teen hyper-texters -- texting more than 120 messages a school day -- are more likely to try alcohol and drugs, be in a fight or have sex, researchers say.

Lead researcher Dr. Scott Frank, director of the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine Master of Public Health program, says the survey of a cross section of high-school students from an urban Midwestern county indicates some 20 percent of teens are hyper-texters.

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The hyper-texting teens are 40 percent more likely to try cigarettes, two times more likely to try alcohol, 43 percent more likely to be binge drinkers, 41 percent more likely to use illicit drugs, 55 percent more likely to have been in a physical fight, nearly three-and-a-half times more likely to have sex and 90 percent more likely to report four or more sexual partners, Frank says.

"The startling results of this study suggest that when left unchecked texting and other widely popular methods of staying connected can have dangerous health effects on teenagers," Frank says in a statement. "This should be a wake-up call for parents."

The study also finds that teen hyper-networking -- spending more than 3 hours per school day on social networking Web sites -- was linked to higher incidence of stress, depression, suicide, substance abuse, fighting, poor sleep, poor academics, television watching and parental permissiveness.

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The findings were presented at the American Public Health Association's 138th annual meeting and exposition in Denver.

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