Excessive text-messaging by teens is tied to drug use and other risky behavior

Tuesday, November 16, 2010; E02

The subtext of texting

Research reported last week at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association suggests that teens' excessive text-messaging is linked to increased risk of tobacco, drug and alcohol use, fighting and having sex.

Excessive texting, called "hyper-texting" in the study and defined as texting more than 120 messages per day on school days, was reported by nearly 20 percent of the 4,257 Midwestern high school students included. The researchers, led by Scott Frank, a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, found that hyper-texters were twice as likely as less-texty kids to have tried alcohol and more than three times as likely to have had sex.

The associations held when the study controlled for the fact that many of those hyper-texting kids were of low socioeconomic status, were minorities or had no father at home.

- Jennifer LaRue Huget

Still stressed

The American Psychological Association conducted an online survey of 1,134 adults age 18 and older from Aug. 3 to Aug. 27, including 100 adults who were parents of children ages 8 to 17. In addition to the national sample, the association surveyed a separate group of 937 adult parents. The report also includes the results of a survey of 1,136 young people ages 8 to 17.

The survey found that a majority - 51 percent - are living with "moderate" stress, which is a stress level of 4 to 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. That's about the same level of stress as the survey found last year. Twenty-four percent say they are experiencing severe stress.

Not surprisingly, money, work and the economy are the leading causes of stress.

Nearly three-quarters of parents say that their stress has only a slight or no impact on their children, but 91 percent of children report they know their parent is stressed.

The report also measured the stress levels of specific metropolitan areas. On average, Washington residents reported a stress level of 5.3, slightly lower than the 5.6 reported in 2009 and 6.0 reported in 2008.

- Rob Stein

© 2010 The Washington Post Company