Does your teen suffer from compulsive texting?

The ding of incoming texts on your kid’s phone is more than an annoyance and distraction. It could actually be a sign of compulsive or addictive behavior. Here are a few indicators of compulsive texting from a study published in the October 2015 issue of the Psychology of Popular Media Culture:

  • Continual phone checking

  • Snapping and rudeness when interrupted

  • Skipping sleep to text

  • Difficulty getting homework done and slipping grades

The study examined the texting habits of 400 8th and 11th graders and the impact of those behaviors on academic performance. Compulsive texting  is defined by more than just sending a large number of texts. It also includes trying to decrease texting without success, defensiveness about use of texting and frustration when unable to text.

As Kelly M. Lister-Landman, the paper’s lead author and an assistant professor of psychology at Delaware County Community College in Media, PA commented in a New York Times article,

“What is [texters’] relationship with phone use? Do they feel anxious when it’s not around them? When they sit down to eat dinner with their family, do they feel a need to check it? Do they feel compelled to look at it at all times, rather than just answering texts they get?”

Parents of girls should pay particular attention to this issue as compulsive texting has more negative academic consequences for adolescent girls, despite the fact that their overall academic functioning is higher than adolescent boys. The study notes that texting may create more anxiety and social distress for girls than boys and that the content of girls’ texts may be more distracting, thus leading to texting’s greater impact on their academic performance.

The study recommends that parents put the following safeguards in place:

  • Recognize and discuss the potential benefits of texting with teens

  • Understand that normal texting behavior can actually boost academic performance through peer-to-peer help with materials and assignments

  • Have children turn off phones or put them away while doing homework

  • Create screen-free zones in the house

  • Make dinner time phone-free and establish screen-free bedtime routines

This is where a contract with your kid can be a great tool.  Click here for Screenager’s contracts.