A new study shows that teenagers who lie about the amount of time they spend texting, check their phones constantly, and become irritable if interrupted could be compulsive texters, and in girls, that could be linked to a lower academic performance.
The study was published earlier this month in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture. Researchers gave 211 Midwestern 8th graders and 192 11th graders a questionnaire that had been adapted from a pathological gambling scale to identify compulsive internet use, The New York Times reports. Forty-seven students did not text and were not part of the final analysis. Out of the teens who did text, 12 percent of girls were compulsive texters, meaning they sent more than 100 texts every day. Only 3 percent of the boys were considered compulsive texters. Of the compulsive texters, 14 percent of the girls self-reported being C students, compared to 4 percent of average texters; the compulsive boy texters said they were B students or better.
The authors said that overall in the study, girls were doing better in school than boys, and texts sent by girls might be emotional and more focused on relationships, causing anxiety. They also said the study does not explain if texting is the reason why they are not doing better in school, or if something else, like depression, is a factor. "I don't think texting is causing academic problems — I think it's an attention-span issue," said Kimberly Young, a psychologist who was not involved in this study. "If you're constantly checking your phone, how are you going to study for school? I have kids who can't sit through an hour-long lecture without checking their phone." Parents who want to prevent their children from becoming compulsive texters should make sure the kids turn their phones off or put them aside while doing homework and refrain from having their cellphone at the dinner table. Catherine Garcia