Christine Park

Friday, November 12, 2010

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Does Texting Lead to Bad Behavior?

I recently read a story about how hyper-texting, or excessing texting by teens leads to risky behavior, including having sex and underage drinking.

The study, presented to the American Public Health Association, says that "Hyper-Texting" teens are more likely to have had sex or used alcohol or drugs, than teens who aren't excessive texters.

"Hyper-Texters" are described teens who text more than 120 times a day. The study found that these excessive texters were three-and-a-half times more likely to have had sex than those who text less.

The study also found that "hyper-networkers" -- teens who spend greater than 3 hours a day on social networking sites -- have a greater likelihood of being involved in risky behaviors including fighting and drinking alcohol

Research for the study was based on surveys of more than 4,200 students conducted at 20 public schools in the Cleveland area. Critics of the study say the results are questionable due to its limited sampling. They also didn't really explain WHY texting leads to more risky behavior.

Whether your kid is a hyper-texter or not, it's good to stay on top of the technology. TVNewsMom suggests texting with your kids, if you don't already do so, to keep current on the lingo. You don't want to be like that blissfully clueless dad, Phil Dunphy, in the show Modern Family (one of my faves!) who claims WTF means "Why the face?"

This is an excerpt from a recent story by one of my colleagues on cryptic codes kids use while texting. I thought I was pretty young and hip, but I didn't know any of these.

"PAW" is an abbreviation for "parents are watching."

There's also CD 9, short for "Code 9," which is another way kids warn one another not to send certain messages because their mom or dad might see them.
"DOC" means "drug of choice."
Some codes just use the first letter of each word, like "GNOC" means "get naked on camera" or LGH, short for "let's get high."
Others replace whole words with one letter or number, like "CU 46" which stands for "see you for sex."

Do you guys know of any good ones?

Experts warn parents need to educate themselves. Samantha Segars, the Director of Sierra Vista Child and Family Services in Merced says, "It's a new language. I think adults can learn how to speak the language." She suggests parents search for teen texting dictionaries online. A good one is But since kids also make up their own abbreviations, she says the most important thing is communication. Talk to them about the risks and consequences of sexting -- how that stuff can easily get leaked onto Facebook or fall into the wrong hands if they lose their phones.

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