Scott Frank told a US conference yesterday that heavy texting and use of social media was linked to risky behaviour. According to the BBC he surveyed 4000 high school students in Ohio and the 20% who sent over 120 texts a day were more likely to have experimented with sex, drugs or alcohol.
Dr Frank has recommended that parents and teachers look out for excessive texting in teenagers as a warning sign for drug use or, err sex.
Many questions are raised by this.
First: how on earth can you send over 120 texts a day?
Second: don’t doctors have better things to do?
Third: why do people drag new media into social issues?
Fourth: err, so does this work for adults too?
1: How can the little blighters send 120 text messages a day? How would they possibly have any time to find drugs or sex if they are spending all that time stuck on their phones? Thinking about this – I guess many of those texts are just “LOL” or “:)” – which I suppose wouldn’t take all that long to write. And I suppose where adults would use email, facebook, twitter or possibly instant chat to communicate, teenagers in school would probably just have text, especially if they use less fancy phones. And if you’re using text real-time then it gets a bit like instant messaging and it’s easy to type a lot of messages very quickly.
2: Don’t doctors have better things to do? Well I assume doctors have better things to do, but I’m just a blogger, how would I know?
3: Blaming new media for things. This I do know about, and it comes up again and again: video games get blamed for real-world violence, Facebook gets blamed for pedophiles, Craigslist for murder, and now text-messaging is getting blamed for teenage sex. Well, not blamed but strongly associated with it. You know what – this is bullshit. These things are just platforms and tools for people, and people do a mixture of good and bad things.
Yes, the technology enables bad stuff, but Facebook doesn’t cause pedophilia any more than a Ford Mondeo and the public road system does, though criminals may well use both of them to facilitate what they do. We obviously wouldn’t stop building roads or cars because people sometimes use them for them for illegal purposes.
The texting and teenage sex thing is a particularly silly example. In fact I can only imagine that this will encourage teenagers to text more if that seems to be the result. Hasn’t this person watched *any* American teen movies? Doesn’t he know that that’s what all teenagers want?
4: Does this work for adults?
Will sending more text messages get you more sex?
I put this hopeful question out to Twitter yesterday. The tweeps weren’t very impressed. The general consensus was no.
I think if you are over 18 and texting/tweeting/facebooking that much, the best you can expect is a job in social media :)