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News Flash: Teens Have Angst May 24, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.

My new favorite tabloid, the LA Times, sketches out a South Korean study correlating heavy mobile phone usage with teen angst:

    A survey of 575 South Korean high school students found that the top third of users — students who used their phones more than 90 times a day — frequently did so because they were unhappy or bored. They scored significantly higher on tests measuring depression and anxiety than students who used their phones a more sedate 70 times daily.

Wiser heads prevail:

    James Katz, a professor of communications at Rutgers University, said Ha’s findings weren’t surprising.

    “A central concern for teenagers is being in touch with friends and drawing boundaries about who’s in and who’s out,” he said. “People who are anxious and depressed are concerned about whether they are in or out and naturally often look at their cellphones to see if they’ve gotten answers to the text messages they sent out.”

Apparently, the study was overweighted toward boys, and the top third heavy users “were communicating by cellphone on average about every 10 minutes during waking hours. The vast majority of their usage was in text messages.” Whew.

Don’t worry. American teens still talk to their friends face to face (see Fig. 3). While more (loser?) boys (14%) than girls (8%) text for flirting, my soon-to-be-published report on cool girls — popular teens who are fashion tastemakers — shows that they spend more time talking on their cellies (5 hours/week) than the average teen girl (2 hours/week).

UPDATED: Jupiter report on online marketing to cool girls.

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