Research shows teenage girls who text compulsively are more likely to do worse academically than teenage boys
WASHINGTON: If you find your daughter to be obsessed with texting friends and unable to leave her smartphone even for a minute, get ready to receive bad news from her school on the academic front.
According to research, teenage girls who text compulsively are more likely than their male counterparts to do worse academically. It appears that it is the compulsive nature of texting, rather than sheer frequency, that is problematic.
“Compulsive texting is more complex than the frequency of texting. It involves trying and failing to cut back on texting, becoming defensive when challenged about the behaviour, and feeling frustrated when one can’t do it,” explained lead researcher Kelly M Lister-Landman from Delaware County Community College.
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Texting has become teenagers’ preferred method of communication, with adolescents sending and receiving an average of 167 texts per day, according to a Pew Internet and American Life Project in 2012. It demonstrated that 63% of teenagers reported texting on a daily basis, while only 39% used their mobile phones for voice calls.
For the new study, Lister-Landman and her colleagues surveyed 403 students (211 girls, 192 boys) in grades eight and eleven from different schools. They designed a “Compulsive Texting Scale” to examine whether texting interfered with the participants’ ability to complete tasks.
The students also completed a questionnaire that focused on their academic performance and how well-adjusted they were in school.
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“Only girls showed a negative association between this type of texting and school performance which included grades, school bonding, and feeling academically competent,” the authors noted. Girls do not text more frequently than boys, but they appear to text for different purposes.
“Borrowing from what we know about internet communication, prior research has shown that boys use the internet to convey information, while girls use it for social interaction and to nurture relationships,” Lister-Landman noted.
Girls are also more likely than boys to ruminate with others or engage in obsessive and preoccupied thinking across contexts. “Therefore, it may be that the nature of the texts girls send and receive is more distracting, thus interfering with their academic adjustment,” the authors pointed out.
Future research could entail observing students while texting, scrutinising monthly phone bills and interviewing parents.
The paper was published by the American Psychological Association in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture.