UNDATED – Teens text at ten times the rate of adults, according to statistics from the cell phone industry.
Ask any parent of a teenager – 84 percent of whom have cell phones – and they’ll likely agree with that statistic.
But the sheer number of text messages sent by one teen in our study caught even her parents off guard: over 11,000 in a month.
When they called the cell phone service provider to see if the figure was accurate, they were told that the number was not unusual.
In fact, teen texting has risen by 566 percent in just two years, according to industry statistics.
11,000 text messages works out to about one every three minutes or so, if you account for 8 hours of sleep. So what happens when you take the phones away from three teen girls, the least prolific of which “only” sends 7,000 messages a month?
That was the focus of a four-day experiment by KATU News.
Dr. Bonnie Nagel, an adolescent neuropsychologist, told us to look for classic signs of addiction: dropping grades, loss of friends, skipping activities, and sleep loss.
Yes, many teens – and adults - keep their phone close to their bedside and will wake up to return text messages through the night. It’s devastating to sleep patterns and the restorative power of sleep.
So how did the three girls in our experiment do? Brittany, 14, who sends 7,000 messages a month, found out she could live without text messaging for four days without too much withdrawal.
In fact, only one girl, Sharon, said she really missed the ability to send the missives. Sharon said she typically sends 10,000 text messages a month.
What about Ashley, who knocks out 11,000 messages per month? Not a big deal, she said.
All three girls were previously involved in extracurricular activities such as cheer leading. Those activities continued during the texting blackout.
So who missed sending text messages the most in this experiment? Parents.
In an increasing trend, parents are finding it easier to communicate with – and locate - their teens through text messaging.
Dr. Nagel does not suggest those who may think they or their kid is addicted to texting quit cold turkey.
Instead, she recommends gradually dialing back the number of text messages sent, and thus the time spent sending them.