Teenagers who text excessively are more likely to be having under age sex, taking illegal drugs and drinking alcohol, a study has found.
In one of the first studies into texting and social networking, researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, surveyed more than 4,200 students. They found that one fifth of them were 'hypertexting' – defined as texting more than 100 messages a day.
These children, many of who were female and from poorer backgrounds, were three and a half ties more likely to have had sex than those less addicted to their mobiles.
Compared with non-heavy texters, hyper-texting teens were also 40 per cent more likely to have tried cigarettes and 94 per cent more likely to have been in a fight, the research showed.
While the researchers say they're not suggesting that 'hyper-texting' leads to sex, drinking or drugs, the study concludes that a significant number of teens are very susceptible to peer pressure and also have permissive or absent parents, said Dr Scott Frank, the study's lead author.
The study also found that about about one in nine teens are hyper-networkers – those who spend three or more hours a day on Facebook and other social networking websites. Around one in 25 fall into both categories.
Hyper-networking was also associated with increased likelihood of stress, depression, suicide, poor sleep, poor academics, television watching and parental permissiveness.
Another study published this week found that children who text and email late at night have poorer quality sleep, are more prone to moodiness, and suffer anxiety and depression.
And an Associated Press-MTV poll recently found that about one-quarter of teenagers have 'sexted' - shared sexually explicit photos, videos and chat by mobile phone or online.
Do you monitor the amount of time your child spends texting and social networking?
Do you think it's bad for them or just a natural part of growing up today?