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Teens Who Text a Lot Most Likely to Drink, Drug and Sleep Around

Is your teen son or daughter always texting or on a social networking site? If yes then be careful, as research suggests that teens spending the most time daily engaged in texting and social networking are also the most likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and have sex with multiple partners.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve Medical School surveyed more than 4000 urban teens in Ohio on their texting and social networking habits and on other heath topics. They found that teens who spent more than 3 hours a day on social networking sites (11.5% of all teens) were:

  • 79% more likely to have drank alcohol
  • 62% more likely to have smoked a cigarette
  • 62% more likely to binge drink
  • 84% more likely to use drugs
  • 94% more likely to have been involved in a fight

Teens that sent more than 120 texts per day (just under 20% of teens) were also more likely to engage in a wide range of negative behaviors and compared to teens who sent a fewer texts each day were:

  • 41% more likely to use drugs
  • 43% more likely to binge drink
  • 40% more likely to smoke cigarettes
  • 350% more likely to have had sex
  • 90% more likely to have had 4 or more sexual partners

Study leader Dr Scott Frank directs the Public Health Master’s Program at the medical school, he says that although the research does not prove that excessive use of social networking or texting causes any negative behaviors, that “It does make sense that these technologies make it easier for kids to fall into a trap of working too hard to fit in. If they’re working that hard to fit in through their social networks, they’re also trying to fit in through other behaviors they perceive as popular, like smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, having sex and getting involved in higher-risk adolescent behaviors.”

He notes that the kids who were doing the most texting and networking were also the most likely to describe their parents as permissive. He says that parents “need to be monitoring and taking charge of the choices their kids are making. We want parents to set more restrictive rules for their kids regarding texting and networking, just as they would set rules about whether their child can go out on a school night and socialize for three hours.” He also says that parents who monitor their children's texting and online usage are probably more on top of their children’s other life activities.

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