Washington: Teenage girls who compulsively text are more likely than their male counterparts to do worse academically, scientists have found. “It appears that it is the compulsive nature of texting, rather than sheer frequency, that is problematic,” said lead researcher Kelly M Lister-Landman of Delaware County Community College.
“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 behaviour, and feeling frustrated when one can’t do it,” Lister-Landman said.
For the study Lister-Landman and her colleagues surveyed 403 students (211 girls, 192 boys) in grades eight and 11 from schools in a semi-rural town in the Midwest. Most came from households with two parents (68 per cent) and were primarily white (83 per cent), which was representative of the demographic characteristics in the school district.
Researchers designed a Compulsive Texting Scale to examine whether texting interfered with study participants’ ability to complete tasks; how preoccupied they were with texting; and whether they tried to hide their texting behaviour, among other relevant factors. The students also completed a questionnaire that focused on their academic performance and how well-adjusted they were in school. Only girls showed a negative association between this type of texting and school performance, which included grades, school bonding and feeling academically competent.
Girls do not text more frequently than do boys, but they appear to text for different purposes, Lister-Landman said. “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,” she 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 added.
The study was published in the American Psychological Association’s journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture.