Texting is one of the most popular forms of communication among teens. “According to a large-scale survey on teens and texting conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 75% of 12- to 17-year-olds own cell phones, 72% of all adolescents (88% of cell phone users) use text messaging regularly, 75% of teenagers who use cell phones have service plans for unlimited text messaging, and 54% contact friends daily via text messaging,” said Marion K. Underwood of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences of the University of Texas at Dallas. But this rapid form of e-communication can also impair teens’ ability to communicate in person, and put children at risk for cyber-bullying and stranger victimization. “However, text messaging may also provide important developmental opportunities for close communication with peers, micro-social planning, communicating about schoolwork, and exchanging Information,” added Underwood. Because there has been very little research on the content of teens’ text messages, Underwood and her colleagues recently conducted a study to find out just what types of messages teens sent. She said, “Examining the content of adolescents’ text messaging could reveal much about their developing social relationships with peers, emerging romantic relationships, communication with parents during this period of increasing autonomy, relationships with authority figures, and the extent to which youths communicate with strangers.”
One hundred and seventy-five 15-year-olds were each given a Blackberry with unlimited text messaging. The teens were assessed annually as part of a larger study, but the results of the text study were compiled from three months of data collection. The researchers found that both boys and girls sent and received over 50 texts daily, some of which contained profane language and sexual content. Underwood added, “This information could have important policy implications for how much access adolescents should have to these electronic devices—for example, whether adolescents should be allowed to text-message on their cell phones at school, the extent to which parents might want to monitor electronic communication, and from whom youths need to be protected against electronic victimization.”
Underwood, M. K., Rosen, L. H., More, D., Ehrenreich, S. E., & Gentsch, J. K. (2011, October 17). The BlackBerry Project: Capturing the Content of Adolescents’ Text Messaging. Developmental Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025914
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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