Blogs » Digital Babble » Is texting taking a toll on teens?


Looking back at my teenage years now, I often laugh at what stressed me out then. I remember being stressed over finding a job so I could have enough money to buy the latest Pearl Jam or Nirvana album. I worried if Brenda and Kelly would reconcile and once again be BFFs and pretend to eat lunch together at the Peach Pit. (This was the original 90210, folks, old school.)

So what are kids stressed about now?


A recent article in The New York Times focused on the toll text messaging is having on teenagers. Here's an excerpt from the article:

They do it late at night when their parents are asleep. They do it in restaurants and while crossing busy streets. They do it in the classroom with their hands behind their back. They do it so much their thumbs hurt.

Spurred by the unlimited texting plans offered by carriers like AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless, American teenagers sent and received an average of 2,272 text messages per month in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the Nielsen Company — almost 80 messages a day, more than double the average of a year earlier.

The phenomenon is beginning to worry physicians and psychologists, who say it is leading to anxiety, distraction in school, falling grades, repetitive stress injury and sleep deprivation. [Source: New York Times]

According to the article, the rise in texting is too recent for anyone to have any conclusive data on health effects. But one thing teens should be aware of, thumb pain!


From the article:

Texting may also be taking a toll on teenagers’ thumbs. Annie Wagner, 15, a ninth-grade honor student in Bethesda, Md., used to text on her tiny LG phone as fast as she typed on a regular keyboard. A few months ago, she noticed a painful cramping in her thumbs. (Lately, she has been using the iPhone she got for her 15th birthday, and she says texting is slower and less painful.) "

Peter W. Johnson, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Washington, said it was too early to tell whether this kind of stress is damaging. But he added, “Based on our experiences with computer users, we know intensive repetitive use of the upper extremities can lead to musculoskeletal disorders, so we have some reason to be concerned that too much texting could lead to temporary or permanent damage to the thumbs.”

Back in the day this same argument about kids and their crazy gadgets was had with video games. This was during the era of kids being diagnosed with Space-Invaders wrist and Pac Mans Elbow. Later on we had such afflictions as Atari Thumb, Nintendinitis, Nintendo Thumb, and Blackberry Thumb. Soon I'm sure we'll have some new tech-related ailment to join these ranks.


I'll talk to you all later, I have to put some tiger balm on my Wii Shoulder.

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