For Immediate Release
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Hyper-texting and Hyper-Networking Pose New Health Risks for Teens

Denver , Colo. – Texting while driving can be a deadly combination for teenagers. Yet, new data released today reveal that the dangers of excessive texting among teens are not limited to the road. Hyper-texting and hyper-networking are now giving rise to a new health risk category for this age group.

Researchers, who presented the findings at the American Public Health Association’s 138th Annual Meeting & Exposition in Denver, surveyed a cross section of high school students from the Midwest and assessed whether use of communication technology could be associated with poor health behaviors, including smoking, drinking and sexual activity.

According to the research, hyper-texting, defined as texting more than 120 messages per day on school days, was reported by 19.8 percent of teens surveyed, many of whom were female, from lower socioeconomic status, minority and had no father in the home. Drawing from the data, teens who are hyper-texters are 40 percent more likely to have tried cigarettes, two times more likely to have tried alcohol, 43 percent more likely to be binge drinkers, 41 percent more likely to have used illicit drugs, 55 percent more likely to have been in a physical fight, nearly three-and-a-half times more likely to have had sex and 90 percent more likely to report four or more sexual partners.

Additionally, hyper-networking, defined as spending more than three hours per school day on social networking web sites, was reported  by 11.5 percent of students and associated with higher odds ratios for stress, depression,  suicide, substance use, fighting, poor sleep, poor academics, television watching and parental permissiveness. Teens who are hyper-networkers are 62 percent more likely to have tried cigarettes, 79 percent more likely to have tried alcohol, 69 percent more likely to be binge drinkers, 84 percent more likely to have used illicit drugs, 94 percent more likely to have been in a physical fight, 69 percent more likely to have had sex and 60 percent more likely to report four or more sexual partners.

“The startling results of this study suggest that when left unchecked texting and other widely popular methods of staying connected can have dangerous health effects on teenagers,” said Scott Frank, MD, MS, lead researcher on the study. “This should be a wake-up call for parents to not only help their children stay safe by not texting and driving, but by discouraging excessive use of the cell phone or social websites in general.”

Session 4272: Hyper-texting and hyper-networking: A new health risk category for teens?

Date: Tuesday, November 9, 2010: 3:35 PM
Researcher: Scott Frank, MD, MS

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Founded in 1872, the APHA is the oldest, largest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world. The association aims to protect all Americans and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States. APHA represents a broad array of health providers, educators, environmentalists, policy-makers and health officials at all levels working both within and outside governmental organizations and educational institutions. More information is available at www.apha.org.