You’ve heard of sex. You’ve heard of texting. Maybe you’ve even heard of sexting. A new study has shown that the connection between the three is a lot stronger than you think (for teens, that is).
After canvassing 20 public high schools, researchers were “startled” to find that teens who text 120 times a day or more—a behavior dubbed “hypertexting”—are more likely to be sexually active.
Why? The study authors assert that hypertexters are likely to have more permissive or absent parents which means they turn to peers for support.
“If parents are monitoring their kids’ texting and social networking, they’re probably monitoring other activities as well,” said Scott Frank, the lead researcher.
Hypertexters were also found to be nearly three and a half times more likely to binge drink, fight, and use drugs than their normal-texting peers. Hypertexting was also found to be more common among girls, minorities, kids from lower income backgrounds and single-mother households.
While this is the first study to look at the causal link between texting and sexual behavior, it isn’t the first one to lay out how texting is changing our social landscape. A Pew study made parents nationwide cringe after finding that a quarter of teens have sexted at some point in their lives. (For those who aren’t familiar with the term, this means to share sexually explicit photos, videos and text via phone or internet.)
Another study found that one third of 16- and 17-year-olds text while driving, while children as young as 8 have clocked in at an average 118 texts per day, prompting more and more parents to set rules limiting the habit.
But the teens themselves don’t see the behavior as a problem.
“It depends on who you’re talking to and whether they have their priorities straight,” said Ivanna Storms-Thompson, a high school freshman from Cleveland.
As for her verdict on talking on the phone?
“Your arm gets tired and your ear gets sweaty.”