Is txting 2 much bad 4 u? If you're losing sleep or distracted in class, the answer may be yes.
When it comes to teens and texting, many people are asking, "How much is too much?" A recent study by the Nielsen Company found that U.S. kids ages 13 to 17 sent and received an average of 2,272 texts per month in the last quarter of 2008. That's about 80 messages a day--more than double the average of 2007!
Is this cause for alarm? Doctors and psychologists warn that excessive texting may be leading to a host of problems, including distractions from schoolwork, interrupted sleep, and thumb injuries caused by too much repetitive motion.
How can you tell if you're at risk? "It's too much when it starts to interfere with the other activities in your life, like school, homework, or sports," Michael Hausauer, an adolescent psychotherapist in Oakland, California, tells JS. "When you can't put [your keypad] away and return to it later, then it's become too big a part of your life."
There are days, says Kate Morrissey, 14, when she sends and receives as many as 60 text messages. "I text at home, in the car when I'm going somewhere, at my brother's games, at the movies before it starts, in restaurants," the ninth-grader from Hingham, Massachusetts, tells JS.
"It's Really Addicting" Molly Reape, 12, also finds plenty of time to text, despite a busy schedule that includes dance class five days a week. "If I have a second anywhere, I'll text," says the seventh-grader from Scituate, Massachusetts. "It's really addicting."
On average, Molly exchanges a few dozen messages a day with friends. At night, she keeps her cell phone beside her bed. Sometimes, she is interrupted by friends texting her as she drifts off to sleep.
"When someone starts texting me when I'm falling asleep, I'll say, 'I'm really tired now, I'm going to bed,'" she says. "If I don't respond to them, they'll keep texting me, 'Are you there, are you there?' It gets really annoying."
Still, Molly is reluctant to turn off her phone. "Just in case someone has to tell me something really important," she says, "I keep it on."
That, says Hausauer, is not wise. "Young people need to be able to say good night to their technology," he tells JS.
What about saying goodbye to their technology at the classroom door? Texting during class is also on the rise. Because kids can exchange messages silently, they often do so without getting caught.
Students who text in class, says Diego Fernandez-Pages, 12, may end up paying a price at test time. "Texting is really distracting," says the eighth-grader from Brookline, Massachusetts. "You definitely aren't paying attention if you're texting. [Therefore], you won't be learning anything.... When you are quizzed or tested, you probably would not get a good grade."
Still, texting does allow teens to form social bonds with ease. "The need for intimacy at that age is so powerful," says Carolyn Meyer-Wartels, a social worker in New York City. "[Texting] is a way for kids to stay connected in a hectic, over-programmed world."
Kate agrees. Because of texting, she can easily keep in touch with her cousins in Virginia and with friends whom she sees only during the summer.
As for her hometown pals, Kate says that texting has made her social life much easier to manage. "I hang out with a big group of friends," Kate tells JS. "I have to check with a lot of people to make plans. I can just send them a quick text, rather than calling them back every five minutes."
To determine whether your texting habits are healthy, you need to answer one simple question: "Am I in charge of texting, or is texting in charge of me?" says Hausauer. 'Tm in charge when I decide when I'm going to text and when I'm going to stop. If you feel overly worried or anxious when you turn your phone off, you may have a problem."
Quiz: Check Yourself
1. Do you text while having meals with your family? (YES) (NO)
2. Do you text during class? (YES) (NO)
3. Do late-night texts interrupt your sleep? (YES) (NO)
4. Do you interrupt your homework to answer texts? (YES) (NO)
5. Do you feel anxious when you turn off your phone? (YES) (NO)
(If you answered "yes" to three or more questions, consider cutting back on your texting.)
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|Title Annotation:||Teen Scene|
|Date:||Sep 7, 2009|
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