Instant Guide

Sex, drugs and... texting?

Researchers say that "hyper-texting" teens are more likely to be sexually active and users of drugs and alcohol. LOL or OMG?

A new study is garnering international attention with the claim that teens who text a lot are more prone to a wide range of dangers. Here's a quick guide to the study's findings:

What exactly did the study find?
Teens who text at least 120 times a day are more than three times as likely to had sex as those who don't send as many messages. They're also more likely to have had a physical fight, to drink to excess, and to use illegal drugs.

How many teens send that many texts?
About one in five students are "hyper-texters," sending at least 120 text messages a day.

Does the act of texting lead to risky behavior?
No. "Typing emoticons doesn't program idle hands to start undressing or reaching for illicit drugs," says Shawn Alff at Creative Loafing. Rather, researchers say that kids who text that much in a single day are more likely to be susceptible to peer pressure, or to have permissive or absent parents. "Hyper-texting" was more common among children from single parent families and those whose parents have less education.

Who did the study — and where?
Researchers at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine anonymously surveyed 4,257 students at 20 schools in Cuyahoga County, Cleveland, in 2009. The sample group was roughly divided between the sexes with whites, blacks, and Hispanics all well-represented.

How worried should I be about my teen's texting habits?
Dr Scott Frank, the study's author, said it should be a "wake-up call for parents." But "before you snatch your kid's cell phone," says Sierra at Babble, consider simply setting some boundaries instead — "it's not the texting that's the problem," but the lack of oversight.

Sources: Associated Press, Business Week, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Babble

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