APHA: Hyper-Texting Tied to Poor Health Outcomes in Teens

Heavy use of social network sites also associated with negative health behaviors

THURSDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Heavy use of communication technology, such as texting and online social networks, appears to be associated with worse health outcomes in teenagers, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, held from Nov. 6 to 10 in Denver.

Scott Frank, M.D., of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and colleagues analyzed the survey responses of 4,257 high school students to assess the prevalence of hyper-texting (HT; texting at least 120 times per school day) and hyper-networking (HN; spending at least three hours using online social network sites per school day) and the associations between these behaviors and health.

The researchers found that nearly 20 percent (19.8 percent) of teens reported HT, and 22.5 percent reported no texting; 11.5 reported HN, and 22.2 percent reported no engagement in online social networking. HT/HN were associated with greater levels of sexual activity, sex partners, alcohol use and binge drinking, suicidal ideation, perceived stress, and tobacco and marijuana use. HT/HN students were also more likely to have weight and food issues, sleep inadequately, and miss school due to illness.

"Teen perception of parent attitudes regarding substance use and sex were more permissive with HT/HN. No texting or social networking was associated with better health outcomes. Minor differences between HT and HN are noted," the authors write.

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