Teens texting too much?

October 5, 2009 9:22:07 PM PDT
Jackie Ferrara just started her freshman year of high school. The 14-year-old plays basketball, sings in chorus and sends text messages like nobody's business.

VOTE: How much does your teen text?

"I've already mastered the full keyboard. Now I don't have to look. I can be singing and send a message," she said.

While that might be common these days for teens, Jackie takes it one step further.

She texts when she should be sleeping.

"It goes on for a long time, until around 3:00 a.m.," she said, explaining that her friends are up until that hour too.

Teens texting all night has become such a problem that doctors at the New Jersey Neuroscience Institute at JFK Medical Center in Edison are studying the affects.

"It is a problem that we are only beginning to understand the depths of," Dr. Michael Seyffert said.

Seyffert conducted a study. He watched as teens slept with monitors on and cameras rolling. They all reached for their phones, at all hours of the night and into the morning.

"This is a compulsion and an obsession that kids can not stop themselves," he explained.

Jackie has already worn out three phones this year. In just one month, she sent and received around 10 thousand texts.

"Yes, she is a little tired. Yes, I could yank the phone away from her, but I think a better way to handle it is to have her learn about management. Life is about management," her mother, Sue Warner, said.

When I asked Jackie what would happen if her mom took away her phone, she texted me the answer, barely looking at her keyboard.

It read "I would feel awful and it would drive me insane and I wouldn't want to ever give it up. I probably would be really mad and throw a fit."

But together, she and her mom will try to curb it. Moderation is the goal.

Jackie says she does want to stop texting in the middle of the night, but she feels anxious and guilty if she's not monitoring her phone. Her mom says if she can't stop, she will have to take the phone away at night.

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