Texting has become teenagers’ preferred form of communication. While only 39% use their cell phones for voice calls, teens text in class, at the dinner table, and when they’re supposed to be doing homework. Even when parents try to set limitations around cell phone use, teens find it hard to set boundaries with their personal devices even when they realize that it is becoming a problem. Social media addiction affects teens’ relationships, self-esteem, and even school performance. According to research published by the American Psychological Association, teenage girls who compulsively text are more likely than boys to do worse academically.
What Makes Texting So Addictive?
“It appears that it is the compulsive nature of texting, rather than sheer frequency, that is problematic,” said lead researcher Kelly M. Lister-Landman, PhD, 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 behavior, and feeling frustrated when one can’t do it.”
Researchers created a “compulsive texting scale,” which differentiated between whether a person reported compulsively texting or simply frequently texting with questions like, “Do you find yourself frustrated because you want to text but you have to wait?” and “Do you fear that life without texting would be boring and unhappy?”
This scale wanted to identify warning signs of social media addiction including:
- Whether texting interfered with participants ability to complete tasks
- How preoccupied they were with texting
- Whether they tried to hide their texting behavior
- How quickly they looked at notifications
- Anxiety over separation from personal devices
Why Are Girls Particularly Vulnerable?
While girls compulsively text 20% more than boys, research suggests that girls don’t necessarily spend more time online, but they use the Internet for different reasons. Boys tend to use the Internet for information or playing games, while girls use it for social interaction and to nurture relationships. As girls place a higher value on their social status, they see their phone as a tool for staying socially connected, which makes it something they “can’t live without.” Girls are more likely to vent to their friends over text, which is more appealing than picking up the phone when emotional, but can also increase the urgency of responding to a text. Girls are also more likely to be part of group chats, where they may receive a higher number of notifications they feel pressured to check, even if the message isn’t directly for them.
These factors may contribute to how attached teen girls can become to their phones. While boys may recognize that they spend a lot of time mindlessly playing video games, girls are less likely to recognize that mindless scrolling through social media can have the same effect, as they can justify their social media addiction as catching up with friends.
How Does Social Media Affect School Performance?
- Fear of Missing Out on “important” notifications can distract teenage girls from other responsibilities, like concentrating in school and completing homework.
- Procrastinating due to preoccupation with one’s phone can lead to higher levels of perceived stress, which interferes with academic performance.
- Teens are more likely to feel bored in classrooms that don’t offer interactive activities.
- Teens are more likely to compare themselves to their peers, which can affect how they feel about themselves and their ability to succeed.
- Teens who struggle with social media addiction experience high levels of stimulation from screens, which affects their quality of sleep and energy levels.
Residential treatment centers for girls help students learn strategies to challenge negative beliefs about their academic potential and to stay engaged in the classroom. Students have the opportunity to catch up on credits or get ahead in our accredited academic program while they learn to develop more effective communication skills and healthier relationships offline.
Solstice East Can Help
Solstice East is a residential treatment center for young women ages 14-18 struggling with behavior and emotional issues such as those that can stem from peer-relationship struggles. This program focuses on helping young women heal, recover, and integrate healthy habits into their lives. Students will learn to build healthy relationships, cope with emotions, and effectively communicate. Solstice East gives young women the skills and confidence they need to lead happy and healthy lives. We can help your family today!
Contact us at 828-484-9946 to learn more about how we create personalized treatment plans.