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Teens Who Engage in Bad Behavior Also Engage in Antisocial Texting

Teens Who Engage in Bad Behavior Also Engage in Antisocial TextingResearchers have discovered that texting about bad behavior is associated with the actual performance of such behavior. Or, put another way, teens who engage in bad behavior are more likely to engage in antisocial texting with others.

“We were interested in how adolescents use electronic communication, particularly text messaging,” said Dr. Samuel Ehrenreich, post-doctoral researcher in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at UT Dallas.

“We examined how discussing antisocial behavior — substance abuse, property crimes, physical aggression, that sort of thing — how discussing that predicts actually engaging in this problem behavior. Basically, does talking about bad behavior predict bad behavior?”

Although the idea of studying the texting habits of teens may not be new, looking directly at the messages they are sending is.

Past studies relied on self-reported texting behaviors, which Ehrenreich said may be flawed due to teens providing inaccurate information about texts.

They would not likely self-report texting about misbehavior. Teens also send an average of 60-100 texts per day, so they may simply forget about much of the texting they do. To circumvent these problems, free BlackBerry devices and service plans were given to 172 ninth-grade students with the understanding that their texts would be monitored.

Texts were collected and stored offsite in a secure database. The participants were rated before and after the school year for rule breaking and aggressive behavior by parents, teachers and in self reports.

Researchers discovered similar types of antisocial messages were found among boys and girls.

These included discussions of rule-breaking, illicit substance use, physical aggression or property crimes. Overall, the rate of antisocial texts was small, at less than 2 percent of the total messages sent and received.

However, from this small percentage of messages, a strong link was found between those teenagers exchanging antisocial texts and the ratings of antisocial and aggressive behavior at the end of the school year.

However, the researchers could only describe this correlational relationship. An alternative hypothesis is simply that teens who engage in bad behavior are more likely to also engage in antisocial texting.

“We know that peers are really influential in an adolescent’s development. We also know that peer influence can lead to antisocial behavior at times, and this form of communication provides a new opportunity for peer influence,” Ehrenreich said.

“Texting is instantaneous, far reaching and it has these unique characteristics that make it all the more powerful, and this provides a new opportunity for peer influence.”

Although this study focused on antisocial communications, Ehrenreich cautioned against thinking texting is all bad.

“Texting is meaningful, and within the archive we also saw positive, meaningful communications,” Ehrenreich said.

“We saw a lot of really heartfelt encouragement that goes on, on the spot, when the students needed it. I think there is a lot that’s both good and bad, just like any other form communication. Texting matters.”

The study appears in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.

Source: University of Texas at Dallas

Teenager texting photo by shutterstock.

Teens Who Engage in Bad Behavior Also Engage in Antisocial Texting

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Teens Who Engage in Bad Behavior Also Engage in Antisocial Texting. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 15, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2013/09/10/teens-who-engage-in-bad-behavior-also-engage-in-antisocial-texting/59379.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.