Teenagers who can't seem to get separated from their smartphones because they constantly use it for texting actually exhibit similar behaviors with compulsive gamblers, according to a new study in the United States. The researchers assessed how the frequency of texting and the compulsive behaviors of teenagers also affected their academic performance.
Researchers surveyed over 400 8th and 11th grade students from the Midwest through a compulsive texting scale that determined whether a person simply texted frequently or they do it compulsively. Samples of questions included "Do you fear that life without texting would be boring and unhappy?" and "Do you find yourself frustrated because you want to text but you have to wait?".
In a report issued in the American Psychological Association journal Psychology of Popular Media, researchers found that 63 percent of teens were into texting, and they send and receive more than 167 texts in a day, while 35 percent of teens prefer socializing face-to-face.
Teenagers, like compulsive gamblers, experience the inability to cut back, sleep loss and lying to cover up habits, the study found. Teenage girls said they had poorer grades at school as a result of texting, although this part of the research was only self-reported.
The study also said that teenage boys and girls have different reasons for texting. Teenage boys often used texting to communicate information, while girls used texting to foster relationships with family and friends.
Kelly Lister-Landman, the study's lead researcher, explained that the habit of texting compulsively is more complex than the frequency of texting because it involved trying and failing to cut back on texting, becoming defensive when questioned about the behavior, and feeling frustrated when one fails to get unattached.
Lister-Landman was also careful not to use the term addiction, because psychologists describe compulsive texting as a maladaptive behavior rather than a clinical disorder.
One of the study's limitations was that most of the respondents were Caucasians, primarily because the majority of the students in the area were white. Researchers also wanted to know if the relationship of the sender to the receiver had an influence to the habit of texting compulsively.
Meanwhile, Kimberly Young, a psychologist from the Center for Internet Addiction doesn't agree with the results of the study.
"I don't think texting is causing academic problems - I think it's an attention-span issue. If you're constantly checking your phone, how are you going to study for school? I have kids who sit through an hour-long lecture without checking their phone," said Young.