The amount of texting a teenager does can lead to school bullying, obesity and lack of sleep, according to a story in The Salt Lake Tribune. These factors can affect a teenager’s relationships with both friends and family.
“There is correlational research showing that (in) people that text a lot, especially adolescents, it is associated with risk behaviors,” said Paul Schvaneveldt, a child and family studies professor at Weber State University. Schvaneveldt described a study done in 2010 by Case Western Reserve School of Medicine Research that focused on hyper texters, or texters who send more than 120 messages per school day. “He estimates 20 percent of teens are ‘hyper texters.’”
The study suggests that hyper texters have a 55 percent higher chance of getting in fights, are 43 percent more likely to binge-drink and are 40 percent more likely to increase in smoking.
“There is a responsible level of use when it comes to technology,” said Dan Hubler, assistant professor in child and family studies.
Hubler talked about a student research group that several professors are participating in to examine the influence of texting and media on romantic couples. Hubler, Pamela Payne, Preston Morgan, Colby Pomeroy and Darcy Gregg are holding a qualitative study that examines how students feel with their electronic usage. Subjects were asked to describe how they felt frustrated in two sentences or less.
“We got 98 responses from that,” Hubler said. “From that some themes came out, such as complaints of partners doing too much media use, neglecting the romantic relationship and tuning out from the rest of the family.”
This child and family studies research suggests that the use of electronics and media sites, whether it be Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, can affect more than just teenagers. Families of all varieties can be affected in a negative manner.
“I think one factor is that the peer influence never turns off. You’re always in contact with peers, you’re always communicating with them, so the peer influence is always there and ongoing and doesn’t turn off,” Schvaneveldt said. “Before texting was around, you would go to school and friends were kind of done when you got home. Now it is an ongoing thing; it never really ends.”
Schvaneveldt spoke about parents who choose not to allow their children to have cell phones.
“There is always a balance between giving your children freedom to make choices and learn and then having limits and having rules and restrictions. Every parent needs to know the personality of their child to know what’s best.”
Teens being constantly on their cell phones can take away from important family interaction and can worsen already-struggling relationships.
“It’s not the fact that texting is distracting from the family, but more of the fact that their relationship is already struggling, and it’s kind of expressed through texting,” said Morgan, a family studies major. “If the parent and daughter are having a hard time, the daughter is obviously going to avoid her mom — and the easiest way to avoid Mom is look down at your phone and avoid eye contact. In that case, texting isn’t a cause; it’s a symptom. It’s an outlet with that problem in the relationship.”
WSU students also have a tendency to keep their eyes glued to their cell phones, whether they are sitting in the Shepherd Union or walking in between classes.
“I think it affects kids a lot because they focus more on texting than school. They’re not really active, socially active,” said Bianca Haro, a WSU sophomore and nursing major. “It draws them away from their family, because they are more social on their phone than with their family.”