|Risky behavior possible in increased texting usage|
|Written by Allison Burke, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Tuesday, 30 November 2010 20:26|
A new study conducted at 20 public high schools that surveyed more than 4,200 students suggests that there is a link between frequent texting and the participation in ‘risky’ behavior, such as sexual activity, alcohol use and substance abuse.
“Teens who text 120 times a day or more—and there seems to be a lot of them—are more likely to have had sex or used alcohol and drugs than kids who don’t send as many messages,” the Nov. 12 USA TODAY article stated.
The study is clear to point out that they are not proposing that frequent texting necessarily leads to such behaviors, only that there appears to be an apparent link.
The study found that teens who text at least 120 times per day are almost three-and-a-half times as likely to have had sex than teens who do not text as much. There was also a link found between frequent texting and fighting physically, binge drinking, using illegal drugs and taking medicine without a prescription.
Kerri Calvert, Health Promotion Coordinator, said she could see a link between texting and risky behavior based on previous research.
“Brain research also indicates that the frontal lobe, the part of the brain that impacts focus and decision making, is not fully developed until the early to mid-twenties. If a high school student has several of the risk factors, I could see how texting could escalate into the possibility of taking part in some risky behavior,” Calvert said.
Personality traits could play a role in determination of risk factors for such behaviors, according to Calvert.
“Research indicates there are certain personality traits that tend to be more common in those that participate in risky behavior: gregariousness, risk-taking, impulsiveness and resistance to authority,” Calvert said.
Researchers suggest that parental involvement and monitoring are related to these numbers.
“I think it’s important for parents to stay up to date on their children’s use of cell phones and social networking sites,” Calvert said.
“It’s much easier now to set up a spur-of-the-moment event, such as a party, than it was prior to cell phones and computers,” she added.
“The study concludes that a significant number of teens are very susceptible to peer pressure and also have permissive or absent parents…if parents are monitoring their kids’ texting and social networking, they’re probably monitoring other activities as well,” Scott Frank, the study’s lead author, said in the article.
As a parent, staying aware of what their children are doing is the key to monitoring behavior, according to the study.
“I think it’s like with any behavior; parents need to be aware of the media their children are involved with. Limitations need to be set and made very clear to their children,” Jim Almeda, health educator, said.