If you’re a teen who texts 120 or more times a day (a/k/a, “hyper-texting”) or whiles away your hours on Facebook and other “social networking websites” more than three hours a day (a/k/a, “hyper-networking”), you’re also more likely to be hyper-sexing, hyper-boozing, and hyper-using, reports a new study from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
Not that texting CAUSES those behaviors, mind you…researchers simply found a link in their surveys of some 4,200 kids at 20 public high schools in the Cleveland area. One in five were hyper-texters, one in nine were hyper-networkers, and 1 in 25 were both, showing some serious skillz at multitasking.
The hyper-texters engaged in the “riskiest” behaviors: They were three-and-a-half times more likely to have had sex than their lesser-texting peers, and they also were likely to have roughed someone up physically, gone on a binge-drinking spree, and used drugs. Hyper-networkers were less likely to have had sex but also drank and fought like wildcats.
But, a caveat: Texting and/or Facebooking can hardly be relegated to “dangerous teen behavior” wholesale, since they are oft also used for nice, goody-goody things like arranging debate club meetings and bake sales and study groups, and coordinating pickups with Mom, as the AP found. Like just about anything, it’s not about the technology itself — it’s about who’s using it, and what their intentions are.
As for the teens in question, maybe it’s that our hyper-texters/networkers are lonely, given their permissive, absentee parents, and are thereby forced to turn to technology — and, sometimes, certain unhealthy pursuits — to fill the void.
OR, perhaps it’s that they’re just ahead of their time. Being able to text, sex, drink, and social network simultaneously, all while duking it out with a particularly nasty, say, commenter — buoyed by the energy and irrepressible spirit of youth? We’re kind of jealous. Not that we condone that behavior in teens. Kids! They grow up too fast!
As for adults who text a lot, well, that’s totally fine. You have to arrange your booty calls somehow, plus, you’ll probably fall asleep before your “friend” actually arrives.