Compulsive Texting is a Thing

Teens prefer texting over all other forms of communication. According to figures published in 2012 by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, three-quarters of teenagers own a mobile phone and 63% say they text every day, a greater percentage than those who say they talk on the phone, meet face-to-face or email every day. The median number of texts sent by teens is 60 a day, with older girls having a median of 100 text messages a day and boys a median of 50. If you have a teen in the house, you may largely agree or disagree with that number.

Texting itself is not a problem. It is a great way to keep in touch, form bonds and strengthen friendships. However, it can become a problem when texting is interfering with much more important things, such as school work, sleep cycles, and interacting one-on-one with the people that are in the room with you.

The term “compulsive texting” refers to texting that is done almost subconsciously. It is the feeling that you have to be in constant contact with someone and that you need to have your phone with you at all times to communicate. It is when you ignore the people around you to answer a text, interrupt homework to text, and stay up late at night to text, even when you try to stop yourself from doing so.

“It appears that it is the compulsive nature of texting, rather than sheer frequency, that is problematic,” lead researcher Kelly M. Lister-Landman, PhD, of Delaware County Community College, said in a statement. “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.”

Project B3 suggests keeping an eye out for certain behaviors from your teen. If you notice that your teen seems stressed or anxious while texting or when he or she is unable to text, that may be a sign she may be a compulsively texting. Also, if your teen is unable to complete a task, such as a homework assignment, a chore, or a conversation without checking their texts or sending a text, that may be a red flag. Also, be sure to monitor how late they are staying up at night texting friends. All of these habits can lead to a shorter and shorter attention span and lack of sleep, which can then lead to a lower academic performance.