How Does Texting Affect Teenagers?

According to clinical psychologist Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., teenagers send approximately 100 text messages per day, amounting to a whopping 3,400 text messages every month. In many cases, teens are texting during school, while driving and when they should be fast asleep, recharging their bodies for school the next day. With texting interrupting just about every aspect of their lives, it leaves some to wonder how teenagers who can’t put down their cell phones are affected.

Sleep Texting

Sleep texting is an increasing phenomenon affecting teens 1. Many teens' texting lives do not end when the lights go out for the night. In fact, some teens are responding to texts while they sleep. Much like a sleepwalker, the teen sends and responds to text messages during the first two stages of sleep. Joe Schroeder, Associate Professor of Neuroscience at Connecticut College, explains that it is not unusual for someone who is very attached to their cell phone to respond to a text message while she is not fully awake. The result the next day is a very tired, moody teen who may not even remember responding to the text.


Teen texters use a texting lingo that includes abbreviated words and sentences. These shortened versions of the English language are migrating into teens' schoolwork. A study by the Media Effects Research Laboratory at Pennsylvania State University revealed that teens who text more have poorer grammar and spelling skills in school. These hypertexters are finding it difficult to transition between their street-texting language and formal, written schoolwork.


Texting is affecting the ways teens communicate people -- in some instances, texting is replacing face-to-face conversations. According to Bonnie Ellis, Ph.D., a public-speaking coach and director of academic affairs for the University of Phoenix Detroit, texting has reached such an extreme that instead of having verbal discussions, teens are texting back and forth while sitting right next to each other 3. Some teachers are feeling a need to address the importance of verbal communication to teens who eventually plan to enter the working world.


According to the National Institutes of Health website, 43 percent of U.S. high school students text while driving. What many teens do not take into consideration when texting and driving is that engaging in this behavior makes them 23 times more likely to become involved in an automobile crash. These statistics lead some experts to suggest that texting while driving results in more accidents than drunk driving.

The Possibilities

It is undeniable that text messaging affords a teenager an easy and quick way to stay in contact with her friends 24/7. And, despite the lack of face-to-face social interaction, texting may actually be beneficial for a teen who lacks certain social skills. In fact, the Baylor College of Medicine website explains that for a teen that is shy or more introverted than her peers, texting serves as a more comfortable way to express feelings without having to talk with another person one-on-one.

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