Monday, October 8th, 2012
A new study in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology has found that teenagers in Japan who use cell phones or other mobile devices after they go to bed face a higher risk of having sleep problems and related mental health problems including depression. From Boston.com:
In the study, researchers investigated nearly 18,000 children in junior high and high schools in Japan, with subjects answering questions about their mental health, in addition to sleep and mobile phone habits. The study follows prior research that finds poor sleep is associated with mental problems in teens. For example, a study published last year in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found teens who had difficulty sleeping were at an increased risk for suicidal thoughts.
Image: Cell phone, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
Teenagers who engage in “sexting,” or sending sexually explicit text messages, are 7 times more likely than their peers to be sexually active in the non-virtual world, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found. Further, the study found that because sexting is a risky behavior, the practice also puts teens at higher risk for having risky sex, putting them in danger of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. From CNN:
“The same teens who are engaging in digital sex risk taking through sexting are also the same teens that are engaging in sex risk with their bodies in terms of being sexually active and not using condoms,” said lead study author Eric Rice, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work in Los Angeles.
A 2009 report from the Pew Research Center found that some teens “view sexting as a safer alternative to real life sexual activity.”
While the term ”sexting” may also include messages also sent over the Internet, this particular study looked solely at cell phone text messages and images. It was conducted via questionnaire in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Researchers surveyed 1,839 students ages 12 to 18 at random. Most were Latino or African-American. Three-quarters of those surveyed had cell phones.
“Even though a minority of teens sext – we only found 15% – but that 15% are much riskier with their physical sexual behaviors as well as their digital sexual behaviors,” says Rice.
He add that teens who reported sexting were seven times more likely to be sexually active than their peers who did not sext.
Image: Teen sending text message, via Shutterstock
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Monday, December 5th, 2011
A new study has found that while one out of ten 10-17-year-olds has sent or received a sexually suggestive text message on a cell phone, only out of 100 of those images would constitute “child pornography” as it is currently defined by the law. The New York Times reports that though the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, does not point to widespread child pornography on cell phones, the data does confirm that tweens and teens are using technology as part of exploring their sexuality:
Over all, the new report found, 149 youths interviewed for the study, or 9.6 percent, said they had sent or received images that included full or partial nudity in the previous year. Just over 2 percent of those who engaged in sexting said they had appeared in the pictures or had taken them themselves, and 7.1 percent said they received sexual images from someone else.
In most cases, the motivations for sending or forwarding sexual texts were not malicious. Most of the youths who sent such messages said that they did so with someone they were involved in a relationship with, or that their messages were flirtatious gestures to someone they had a romantic interest in.
About 31 percent who appeared in or took sexual images said that alcohol or drug use had been a factor. And despite public concerns about lewd photographs of minors that start out as private messages becoming widely distributed, only 3 percent of the minors in the study said they had forwarded sexual photographs that they had received.
The fact that about a third of sexual messages were created or sent when alcohol or drugs were involved suggests that the children who are doing the riskiest messaging are engaging in other risky behaviors as well, said Nancy Baym, a professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas and author of the book “Personal Connections in the Digital Age.”
Image: Teenage girl texting, via Shutterstock
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Friday, July 29th, 2011
Most American teenagers make or receive 5 cell phone calls each day, research has shown. Whether that regular cell phone use, over time, can cause brain tumors, is a topic of high debate in the scientific community.
On May 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) placed cell phones on a list of 266 items that may cause cancer in human beings. Yet a study published this week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute would seem to reassure parents that kids who use cell phones are at no heightened risk of developing brain cancer. The study concluded, “Regular users of mobile phones were not statistically significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with brain tumors compared to nonusers.”
CNN.com reported that many in the scientific community consider the new study “muddy water” in the debate:
This study surveyed 352 kids with brain tumors between 2004 and 2008, who the researchers concluded were “regular cell phone users.” The kids lived in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland. The catch? The researchers’ definition of a “regular user” was one mobile phone call a week for at least six months. The researchers did not look at exposure time using call duration. Defining a “regular cell phone user” as once a week for at least six months is very low. According to a Pew Research Center study released in 2010, U.S. “teens typically make or receive five calls a day. White teens typically make or receive four calls a day, or around 120 calls a month, while black teens exchange seven calls a day or about 210 calls a month and Hispanic teens typically make and receive five calls a day or about 150 calls a month.”
So they didn’t find an increase between the “regular user” group and the control group. But based on their definition of a regular user, it’s unlikely that they would. Also because, as noted by the National Cancer Institute, “The interval between exposure to a carcinogen and the clinical onset of a tumor may be many years or decades.” That means if a 13-year-old starts using a cell phone on a daily basis in 2011, it will be years or decades before any damaging evidence is seen. Very few people believe talking on the phone once a week for six months will cause brain cancer. But for teens who are using their cell phones in a more typical fashion – at least five times per day- the answer is less clear.
Experts advise parents to consider teaching their children to take cell phone precautions such as using hands-free devices or speaker phone, or doing more texting than talking to keep the cell phone’s antenna away from their heads.
(image via: http://www.zomm.com/)
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