Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hypertexting teens and me

According to a study released earlier this week by Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, teenagers who send over 120 text messages per day are apparently more likely to engage in risky behaviors like drug use and unprotected sex. Who knew?

In fairness, the researchers said this doesn't imply a causal relationship. It simply draws a correlation that invites further study. Whatever: It makes for great headlines, and they certainly got lots of those from across the continent after they went public.

My take: Every generation has its own issues with new technologies, and every new technology comes with a dark side. Overuse anything and it, too, will potentially spawn some questionable outcomes. This should hardly be a surprise to any of us. We should also hardly be pulling phones from our kids' hands because their use will make them have sex and do drugs. It's not that simple.

I had some media fun with this one, speaking with CTV's Daniele Hamamdjian for a report that aired on the national 11 p.m. newscast (Report video here.) I also spoke with Priya Mann from 'A' News here in London, for a report that led off the London 11 p.m. show. Will upload video once I get it off my BlackBerry. (Update: Here's the video. It's also embedded below. I come in around the 0:50 mark. Enjoy the jumpiness.)

Your turn: Do teens text too much? Is this all needless hype?


Kalei's Best Friend said...

omg, my niece is addicted to texting..her dumb mother said she found a great cell plan that allowed her daughter to have unlimited texting for a fee.. can u believe that? all I could say was " how is she going to pay for it? or better yet, take the phone away"... Her mother looked at me like I was nuts. Sad parent and child.

Anonymous said...

Funny, people said the same thing about rock'n'roll and rock concerts. It didn't ring true for me.
I'm more worried about kids being able to write a complete sentence and interact socially in person.

Good for you, Carmi, wearing a red poppy!

Prettypics123 said...

I like the way you brought this topic out. Texting, sex and drugs. Well all that texting does imply a desire for connectedness. I think that sex certainly could have a similar motivation. Drugs, well they may help deal with feelings of loneliness and isolation, the same as texting might. The issue is definitely bigger than the texting instrument's presence in the hands of a teen.

that guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
that guy said...

carmi...excellent tv presence...great post for thought and reflection.

the simple and lineal answer is what disturbs me. there are a lot of issues in our society that have led us to this crossroad.

it is a global malfunction of the family unit that is the issue at hand. texting and the secrecy afford by texting is just one square in a complex crossword puzzzle of societal and familial issues...

The Gearheads said...

First off, I like your way of looking at this study, that it isn’t as simple as my kid texts a lot therefore they will do drugs and be promiscuous, this is very true. I don’t feel texting is the issue. Life for the parents of this generation often creates the need to have two incomes to survive, sometimes that leaves children on their own. So many things going on, parents spend a lot of time dealing with their own issues and children take a back seat. Drugs and sex has often been a way for teens to validate themselves in other ways
This is a question that the answer has many variables. Texting is their way of communicating, as phones, emails, chat rooms and just hanging out at the best local has been before. I think they have an advantage because of this that is they can talk to each other any time they want, unfortunately this is also an avenue for exactly what they were talking about, drug use and sex. I have always felt, though, teens that are going to will find a way to do drugs and have sex.
I don’t necessarily feel they text too much, but I do think they text in the wrong situations, which could equal too much. Texting in school creates many problems, distraction from learning and cheating would most likely top the list. Texting while driving. Those are situations that I feel the phone should not even be looked at. There are the social times, where I feel it is rude. As you are having a conversation with somebody (I am guilty there). Sitting at dinner with the family at a nice place. Texting while they are at the counter of the store, bank, convenience store, or any situation where it would be considerate to give the person you are talking to the respect of your attention. It becomes obvious that whoever is on the other side of that phone is more important than the person face to face. Though it has always been that a teen’s friend takes priority over those pesky adults who try to hold them down and ruin their lives.

Anne said...

Great topic...I worry more about the ethics of texting anywhere and anytime! Especially in the classroom (according to my vice-principal husband) :)

Julie Martin said...

My husband ran this story in his 10PM show. Sure, teens probably text too much, but the idea of a correlation between sex and texting just seems crazy.

21 Wits said...

Great screen presentation Carmi! Okay too much of anything has it's problems, but by texting so much how would they have time to drink and have sex?! lol My real worry is what we as parents are teaching. I watched a mother of three leaving a store pushing the youngest in the cart while two toddlers danced across the parking lot to her Escalade all the while she was texting...finally the troop was in and she drove by me, still texting, glancing up every few seconds to drive. Crazy huh? Wonder what her children will be like in 8 or 9 years? and not really defending kids over-texting but if you break down 120 texts a day, especially with the brief OMG texts if they had 12 people (friends,parents)and they exchanged 10 texts with each there's 120 right there...and I can see more...I have seen more!