Compulsive texting can lead to poor school performance for teenage girls, a new study suggests.
“It appears that it is the compulsive nature of texting, rather than sheer frequency, that is problematic,” said lead researcher Kelly Lister-Landman, who was at Chestnut Hill College in Pennsylvania when the study was conducted.
The study involved 211 girls and 192 boys in grades eight and 11 at schools in a semi-rural town in the Midwest.
Only girls showed a link between compulsive texting and lower school performance in areas such as grades, feeling able to do school work and school bonding.
The study was published online Oct. 5 in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture.
“Compulsive texting is more complex than frequency of texting. It involves trying and failing to cut back on texting, becoming defensive when challenged about the behavior and feeling frustrated when one can’t do it,” Lister-Landman explained in a journal news release.
Girls don’t text more often than boys, but they text for different reasons, the study authors noted.
“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 said.
“Girls in this developmental stage also are more likely than boys to ruminate with others, or engage in obsessive, 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,” she noted.
While the study shows an association between compulsive texting and poor school performance, it doesn’t establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship. And the authors acknowledge that texting can benefit teens in various ways.
U.S. teens send and receive an average of 167 texts a day, according to 2012 Pew Internet and American Life Project study.
Common Sense Media has more about teens and social media.