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Teen texting taking toll


A STUDY into youth communication habits has identified serious physical and mental disorders as a result of teenagers texting excessively every day.

Anxiety, insecurity, depression and low self-esteem have all been identified by researchers as symptoms common among text-addicted teenagers.

Figures released by Boost Mobile show text messaging has increased by 89 per cent in two years, with one teenage customer managing to send an incredible 4000 text messages over nine days.

Jennie Carroll, a technology researcher from RMIT University in Melbourne studying the effects of modern communication, said the mobile had become meshed into teenagers’ lives.

“Texting is quite tribal – it is just what teenagers do with phones,” she said.

Dr Carroll said her study into the effects of modern communication had found four distinct disorders – textaphrenia, textiety, post-traumatic text disorder and binge texting.

Textaphrenia is thinking you’ve heard a message come in or felt the device vibrate when it actually hasn’t.

Textiety is the anxious feeling of not receiving any texts or not being able to send any.

“With textaphrenia and textiety there is the feeling that ‘no one loves me, no one’s contacted me’,” Dr Carroll said.

Post-traumatic text disorder is physical and mental injuries related to texting.

“There are physical issues arising like walking into things while texting,” Dr Carroll said.

“There were reports from Japan of ‘repetitive thumb syndrome’ and of young people’s thumbs growing in response to too much texting, leading to ‘monster thumbs’.”

Binge texting is when teens send multiple texts to feel good about themselves and try to attract responses.

Confessed SMS fanatic Nicole Arnold, 34, of Sydenham, said she sent 40 texts a day and texted even while eating and at the movies.

“I get told that I text too much. I have even been told off at work for it,” said Ms Arnold, who works in hospitality.

“I had to change my bill because I text so much. I now pay an extra $15 a month and get unlimited text messages. Because before my bill would be out of control. One month it was $800.”

RMIT’s Dr Carroll said teens who were aware they were texting too much or that it was affecting their lives could do something about it.

“Be involved in lots of things, have face-to-face contact as well as virtual contact,” she said.


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