How Much Is Too Much?
If you think you have a teenager who texts too much, odds are you are probably right. The average teenager texts 3,000 times a month. That's an average of about 100 per day. In the past few years, texting has increased by a whopping 600 percent.
Although there is nothing wrong with texting in itself, too many teenagers take it to the extreme. Instead of paying attention in class, doing homework or studying at home, teens are too busy sending messages back and forth on their phones. This causes classroom disruptions and grades to slip. In addition, texting can actually hurt them socially. No one wants to be on a date, a luncheon with friends or family dinner when one person is continuously texting. The Pew Research Center reports that texting is currently the preferred method of communication with texting being more popular than talking on a cell phone.
Associate Professor Tamyra Pierce of the California State University-Fresno has studied this phenomena and has determined that 47 percent of high school students spend one to four hours a day involved with text messages.
So why is it so addicting? To start with, it causes the brain feedback to its pleasure center due to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Family therapist Steve McCready of Sacramento, California, states that this release of dopamine is similiar to forms of drug usage. While texting, it comes in small doses. This can cause teens to want to text more and more. Although a sense of euphoria can be felt at the time, this can be replaced with irritability if the teen is unable to continue communication.
There are also medical issues associated with text messaging. One is sleep deprivation. Some teenagers are so addicted that they can't even sleep through the night without sending and receiving messages. According to the Leuven Study on Media and Adolescent Health, twenty one percent of sixteen-year-olds are waking up one to three times a month simply to text, which is causing disruptions in their sleep cycles. Another issue is pain due to the constant movement of the thumbs. Thumb numbness has been reported along with neck and back pain due to bad posture. What does it hold for the future? Teenagers may have to look at thumb joint replacement surgery and carpal tunnel in the future.