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Report: Texting May Be Harming Teens

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 44 comments

The Nielson Company is reporting that texting amongst teenagers leads to anxiety, sleep deprivation, and even repetitive stress injury.

The reason according to Nielson: the texting average has more than doubled since last year. The report stated that the average American teen sends and receives 80, possibly hundreds of messages a day, averaging 2,272 messages per month. The numbers should come as no surprise: Verizon Wireless, Cingular, AT&T Mobility, and other mobile carriers provide unlimited texting plans. Empowered with virtual texting freedom, teens are texting while driving, when crossing streets, while on the toilet, even texting past midnight and on into the early morning hours.

According to the New York Times, psychologists and physicians are beginning to take notice, fearful that the continuous texting could be damaging, especially when the messages average one every two minutes. "That's going to cause sleep issues in an age group that's already plagued with sleep issues," said Dr. Martin Joffe, a Greenbrae, California pediatrician, referring to late night/early morning texting. He recently conducted a survey at two high schools, and discovered that sending hundreds of messages each day was a normal routine for most students.

Although it's too early to see the overall effects of the recent texting boom, several psychotherapists believe texting can be both a great tool and a damaging one. At this point in their lives, teens are to begin the early stages of branching out from the home; to learn how to be an individual and think as one person. By texting Mom or Dad with every question, technology defeats this natural progression. Additionally, teens require "peace and quiet" in order to gather thoughts and decide what kind of adult they want to be. Texting defeats that as well, interrupting that state of mind when vibrating every few minutes.

“Texting can be an enormous tool,” said Michael Hausaur, a psychotherapist in Oakland, California. “It offers companionship and the promise of connectedness. At the same time, texting can make a youngster feel frightened and overly exposed.”

The New York Times article expands into various accounts of texting, how teens covertly text each other by acting as if they're taking something out of their backpack, out of their pocket. Many teachers are unaware of the amount sent and received in the classroom, totally oblivious. However, those that are aware feel powerless in preventing students, and are unable--perhaps even unwilling--to take the time policing the activity every day. Parents are also guilty for not monitoring the amount of texting via the monthly bill. Apparently, parents tend to be far less aware of texting than general computer use or video game playing.

Outside the actual messaging load, physicians are worried about how the activity is wearing on the thumbs. “Based on our experiences with computer users, we know intensive repetitive use of the upper extremities can lead to musculoskeletal disorders, so we have some reason to be concerned that too much texting could lead to temporary or permanent damage to the thumbs," said Peter W. Johnson, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Washington. He said it was too early to tell if the stress on the thumbs is damaging.

Surprisingly, the New York Times article didn't touch on the subject of "sexting," the practice of sending sexually explicit messages or photos to mobile phones. Recently sexting has become an issue, with child pornography laws coming into effect because of explicit pictures passed between friends, all of whom were underage. According to The Guardian, three teenage girls--sending nude pictures of themselves--were charged with manufacturing and disseminating child pornography, while the three teen boys were charged for possessing the received images.

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Top Comments
  • 14 Hide
    the_one111 , May 27, 2009 10:46 PM
    I love the picture..

    Cookie monster is texting you...

    Maybe parents should put limits on how much teens text? Ever think of that? "Too much of a good thing can be bad for you".

    Oh, of course that won't happen, I mean, it might kill us if we actually DISCIPLINED our children.
  • 13 Hide
    Raidur , May 27, 2009 11:39 PM
    My girlfriend's little sister sent 800+ texts the first night she got her phone. Her dad then made the phone unable to use between 11pm and 6am. :) 
Other Comments
  • 14 Hide
    the_one111 , May 27, 2009 10:46 PM
    I love the picture..

    Cookie monster is texting you...

    Maybe parents should put limits on how much teens text? Ever think of that? "Too much of a good thing can be bad for you".

    Oh, of course that won't happen, I mean, it might kill us if we actually DISCIPLINED our children.
  • Display all 44 comments.
  • 8 Hide
    mrfisthand , May 27, 2009 10:56 PM
    Cookie Monster is the type of guy that txts you at 2am just to say "ME WNAT COOKI LOL =)"
  • -7 Hide
    AncientNoob , May 27, 2009 11:05 PM
    Cookie Monster is the type of guy that txts you at 2am just to say "ME WNAT COOKI LOL =)"
  • 1 Hide
    mpd2142005 , May 27, 2009 11:20 PM
    Tell us something we don't know? Although it's not just teens that texting is affecting, how many text-related train accidents have happened in the last year or two?
  • 1 Hide
    mpd2142005 , May 27, 2009 11:21 PM
    Excuse me, I should include automobiles as well*
  • 13 Hide
    Raidur , May 27, 2009 11:39 PM
    My girlfriend's little sister sent 800+ texts the first night she got her phone. Her dad then made the phone unable to use between 11pm and 6am. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 28, 2009 12:22 AM
    My sister has gone through four phones. Her average texting for the month is over 10,000. Her buttons are all but destroyed, cracked in half. Still, is it the texting that is adding the stress? I never liked psychology much... because it is ALL theory. Could it be the global economy squeeze? Parents wanting them to get a job to help pay for their phone, but there are no jobs? Parents pushing them even harder to be better in school so that they get good grades to get into a good college, to get a good job? There are so many facets to a teens life. I appreciate the study, but don't make texting seem like it's a bigger problem than other things that will stress a teen.
  • 9 Hide
    kingnoobe , May 28, 2009 12:24 AM
    I agree with the_one. Parents need to quit being lazy.. Just wait their gonna want the goverment to do something about this to, because it's so hard to make your kid hand over the phone that you pay the bill on and can cancel anytime.. Parents just don't either care, or care to much and become afraid of being the "bad guy".

    To you parents.. Sometimes being a parent, isn't being your kids friend.
  • 2 Hide
    gorehound , May 28, 2009 12:32 AM
    at least they weren't talking about sexting
  • -3 Hide
    idisarmu , May 28, 2009 12:45 AM
    RaidurMy girlfriend's little sister sent 800+ texts the first night she got her phone. Her dad then made the phone unable to use between 11pm and 6am.


    I would be quite upset if that happened to my phone. I don't use my phone much, but I really like being available 24/7. I don't send all that many texts per month... maybe 1500 per month. Almost all of these texts are sent frantically when trying to figure out rides and locations for parties or going somewhere I want to go.
  • 4 Hide
    Upendra09 , May 28, 2009 12:51 AM
    And then when the gov't does do something , the parents won't like the intrusion of the government. It is a stupid cycle, parents should just put restrictions on texting. They just are too scared to
  • 0 Hide
    jsschneidereit , May 28, 2009 12:53 AM
    Anxiety shouldn't necessarily be a bad thing either... gets me good grades in el university, and has saved my neck in many other situations.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , May 28, 2009 1:40 AM
    Ok, so people are communicating, losing sleep over it, and that is now considered a danger? Would it be any better if they were simply calling each other on the phone, or msging using a laptop? or just talking?

    I think the shrinks need to keep their nose out of other peoples assholes, and worry about their own behavior. At this rate, everything is now considered some kind of a sickness. Psychologists are trying to classify bitterness as a syndrome, not being happy 24/7 is now a sickness too, called depression (I mean, it can't be that the world is so messed up that there's simply nothing to be smiling about right? kids are dying in every country, there isn't enough food to go around, murders and rapes are happening every few seconds, our presidents are legally retarded, and the people are constantly oppressed, but if you're not happy, then you're sick and have a depression, and need drugs! right?), If you enjoy reading and studying rather than drinking, killing your brain, smoking, and trying to get laid 24/7, well that means you have Asperger's syndrome, and need drugs that will help you become more docile, and stupid like the rest of the society... When most of the Field Medals and Nobel Prizes, every single invention and discovery is made by an Asperger's syndrome individual (at least that's what he would have been classified)...
  • 5 Hide
    rdawise , May 28, 2009 1:51 AM
    Am I the only one that thinks this is bull? The answer to your teen not texting so much...take their phone away. Come on be a parent.
    I go back to my youth, where on school nights I wasn't allowed to play my nintendo on school nights. At the time I though it was unfair, but then again I never had sleep deprivation, anxiety or whatever else health professionals want to give you a pill for. Are parents really that afraid of their kids to not tell them no?

    Last time I checked, the simple acting of thinking to much can give you anxiety as well as sleep deprivation. Should we not allow teens to think next? Just be parents and say no.

    jsschneidereitkingnoobe, Being a tyrant also isn't being a parent. IMO

    I wholly disagree with you. Being a tryant is being a parent. As most often quoted by parnts, "This isn't a democracy, it's a dictatorship". I am not saying at the point of physical, emotional, or social abuse, but I am saying you word should be law in your own home. If a parent says no, then no. Is that being tyrannical, yes and that is the point. The teen might feel opressed, but are they, no. You should control your own home. It's funny how so many parents complain about government intervention and how "the government shouldn't raise my kid". Yet we rely on things like the FCC to control content so we don't. Oh well...
  • -2 Hide
    leafblower29 , May 28, 2009 2:24 AM
    Most people text in class everyday.
  • -2 Hide
    afrobacon , May 28, 2009 2:46 AM
    Outside the actual messaging load, physicians are worried about how the activity is wearing on the thumbs.


    My Olympic thumbs have no signs of slowing down...
  • 3 Hide
    Kami3k , May 28, 2009 3:00 AM
    Wow.... None of my friends text that much, if at all. Guess my friends have better things to do, like life.
  • 5 Hide
    jdog2076 , May 28, 2009 3:18 AM
    Maybe I've been living under a rock, but am I the only one surprised by the fact that some people text hundreds of messages per day? Let's say it takes an average of 1 minute to send a message. This equates to multiple hours each day literally doing nothing but thumbing your phone. Holy crap. People do this?
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