Texting- is it the New Gateway Drug for Teens?

Texting is the new coinciding factor to “bad behavior.”

Watch out kids, according to novel research, a plethora of texting, done in a day’s period of time, has an interesting link to sex, drugs and alcohol or bad behavior.

Texting is a way to converse with another person through text without having to actually talk on the phone.  Teens all over the world prefer texting as their main means of communication.

But surprising recent studies have shown that teens who text 120 times a day or more, “hyper-texters,” are more likely to have had sex or used alcohol and drugs than kids who don’t send as many messages.

Dr. Scott Frank, an associate professor of epidemiology and bio-statistics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, conducted a survey last year in the Cleveland area.

Texting, the new correlation to drugs, alcohol and sex. Photo by Cree Bleacher

Twenty schools participated in the survey and more than 4200 students added their help.

The survey concluded that about one in five students were hyper-texters and about one in nine are hyper-networkers, those who spend three or more hours a day on Facebook and other social networking websites.

Of all the students surveyed, one in 25 teens could fall into both of these categories.

The study found those who text at least 120 times a day are nearly three-and-a-half times more likely to have had sex than their peers who don’t text that much.  Startlingly, hyper-texters were also more likely to be in a physical fight, binge drink, use illegal drugs or take medication without a prescription.

The hyper-networkers on the other hand were not comparable to the results of hyper-texters.  Hyper-networkers were not as susceptible to sex but were more likely to be involved in drinking or fighting.

Hyper-texting and networking was found, in the survey, to be more common among girls, minorities, kids whose parents have less than a college education and teens from a single-mother household.

Another survey done by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project revealed in 2009 that one in three teens is sending more than 100 texts a day.

The American Public Health Association’s (APHA) said,”teens who are hyper-networkers are 62 percent more likely to be binge drinkers, 84 percent more likely to have used illicit drugs, 94 percent more likely to have been in a physical fight, 69 percent more likely to have had sex and 60 percent more likely to report four or more sexual partners.”

Texting, texting, texting. Hyper-texting is connected to bad behavior in a recent study. Photo by papamiket.com

Additionally, hyper-networking  was reported by 11.5 percent of students.  Hyper-networking was linked to higher odds ratios for poor sleep, stress, depression, substance use, fighting, poor academics, suicide, television watching and having permissive parents.

Hyper-texting was reported by 19.8 percent of teens surveyed.  For hyper-texters, teens were 40 percent more likely to have tried cigarettes, two times more likely to have tried alcohol, 43 percent more likely to be binge drinkers, 41 percent more likely to have used illicit drugs, 55 percent more likely to have been in a physical fight, nearly three-and-a-half times more likely to have had sex and 90 percent more likely to report four or more sexual partners.

“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,” said Frank.

Students at Penn Manor can’t seem to quite fully understand the correlation of the hyper-texting and networking but have their own views on the subject.

“There is no correlation because some people text a lot but don’t talk about drugs, alcohol and sex,” said senior Jeremy Vital.

“This is not true because the majority of my texts I send are about school,” said senior Bryan Buckius.

“Me texting a lot has nothing to do with sex, drugs and alcohol,” said Spencer Barnett, a senior at Penn Manor.

Science teacher, Erick Dutchess, had a lot to say about this topic.  “I think the two (texting and illicit behavior) are correlated, but one does not necessarily cause the other one.  I think a lot of the factors that encourage large amounts of texting (a need of acceptance, a lack of parental communication, a desire to feel affection) are linked together.

“Just because texting occurs in the presence of these negative behaviors, one doesn’t have to be the sole root for the other,” he said.

It’s ultimately up to parents, experts said, to monitor their children’s texting and networking capabilities.

By Cree Bleacher

2 thoughts on “Texting- is it the New Gateway Drug for Teens?”

  1. Correlation is not causation. People with better social lives would probably have better sex lives, and more texting (because they have more people to talk to). Both would more likely be caused by their social status, and they probably have no effect on each other. Also, parties and other social interactions have more drugs, so people who go to them will be more likely to use them due to availability. People were misbehaving before texting, and will continue to.

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