Hypertexting Spells Trouble

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010 - 3:53pm

Study finds teens who text too much may also be involved in even riskier behavior.

A new study finds smoking, drinking and other risky behaviors appear to be more common among teenagers who text and use social networking sites excessively.

These so-called "hypertexters" send and receive more than 120 text messages every day.

"These are kids who are getting less sleep, who are less physically active, who are smoking more cigarettes, drinking more alcohol, using more marijuana," says Dr. Scott Frank.

Dr. Frank and his team at Case Western Reserve University surveyed more than 4,000 high school students.

Along with smoking and drug and alcohol use, hypertexting was associated with physical violence.

Teen hypertexters were also 90-percent more likely to have had four or more sexual partners.

This does not mean texting *causes* health risks.

Dr. Frank attributes the link in part to "cyber peer pressure."

"While peer pressure used to happen once in a while, for hypertexters and hypernetworkers it's pretty constant now," he says.

A father of five, Dr. Frank recommends parents supervise their kids' texting habits more closely, view excessive online networking and texting as red flags and set boundaries.

"If they don't know whether their kids are involved in hypertexting and hypernetworking, they should," says Dr. Frank.

Curbing virtual behaviors might help reduce real-life risks.

Spending more than three hours a day doing social networking was also associated with a higher risk for depression and suicidal thoughts.

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