Though I tend to agree with the results of a study showing that risky behaviors follow teens that are texting constantly, or are on social networks, I am cautious enough to know that not only has there been no causality proven, there has not been enough of a sampling to make broad statements about it.
Still, if you’re a parent that believes in erring on the side of caution, you might want to consider the results shown in an article from PC Magazine today.
Drug abuse, promiscuity and other risky behaviors are more commonly found amongst teens who text excessively or spend massive amounts of time on social networks, according to a new report.
But they could be texting to see where the dealer is, where the next hook-up will be found, or who is going to be jumping off the cliff. It doesn’t mean that the texting or time on Facebook is causing the problem – but it certainly can’t be helping!
Researchers at Case Western University, led by Scott Frank, a family physician and public health professor, surveyed roughly 4,200 teenagers in an “urban city in the Midwest” to determine whether such behaviors led to health problems. Hypertexting is defined as 120 texts or more a day; hypernetworking means spending three or more hours on social-networking sites.
I don’t personally know anyone doing that much texting, but I have nieces, nephews, and children of friends that spend that much time on Facebook. (I frankly don’t see it, to me it is the 21st century equivalent of being the town busybody.)
Although the findings didn’t show any causal relationship, Frank found higher rates of high-risk behaviors like promiscuity, suicidal tendencies, eating disorder patterns, and drug and alcohol abuse among teens who hypertext or hypernetwork.
They were also physically unhealthier: more likely to be obese, stressed or skip class because of an illness.
Nearly 20 percent of the teens were hypertexters and 12 percent were hypernetworkers. The most common profile is a female from a low socioeconomic background.
My personal experience shows that females are indeed higher profile in doing both, but I have not observed economics being much of a factor. As a matter of fact, lack of family wealth and the hyper variants of either of these things, in my own experience is inversely proportional.
On the flip side, teens who didn’t hypertext/hyper-network were mentally and physically healthier.
No carpal tunnel, blisters on thumbs, etc.
While the findings stop short of drawing any causal relationships, Frank has been widely quoted as saying, “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…this should be a wake-up call for parents to not only help their children stay safe by not texting and driving, but by discouraging excessive use of the cell phone or social websites in general.”
Last year, researchers in China found links between Internet addiction and self-harm.
Individual cases will vary, and I would say that paying attention to what a child does is far more important than worrying about the exact nature of what they are doing every minute. The problems are not developed overnight, and having a general idea of how their time is used, along with the structure of their life outside the home is far more important.
After all, for each generation, there are things that the older generations are certain will cause the undoing of society. It has always been so.