The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

June 16, 2014

Study: Teens are drinking less, texting more

(Continued)

DRINKING

Fewer teens said they drank alcohol. Drinking of soda was down, too. About 35 percent said they had had booze in the previous month, down from 39 percent in 2011. About 27 percent said they drank soda each day. That was only a slight change from 2011 but a sizable drop from 34 percent in 2007.

SEX

The proportion of teens who had sex in the previous three months held steady at about 34 percent from 2011. Among them, condom use was unchanged at about 60 percent.

SUICIDE

The percentage who attempted suicide in the previous year held steady at about 8 percent.

MEDIA USE

TV viewing for three or more hours a day has stalled at around 32 percent since 2011. But in one of the largest jumps seen in the survey, there was a surge in the proportion of kids who spent three or more hours on an average school day on other kinds of recreational screen time, such as playing video or computer games or using a computer or smartphone for something other than schoolwork. That number rose to 41 percent, from 31 percent in 2011.

Health experts advise that teens get no more than two hours of recreational screen time a day, and that includes all screens — including Xboxes, smartphones and televisions.

Although video-gaming is up, particularly among teen boys, some researchers believe most of the screen-time increase is due to social media use. And it's probably not a good thing, they say.

Through texts and social media, young people are doing more communicating and living in an online world in which it's easier to think they're the center of the universe, said Marina Krcmar, a Wake Forest University professor who studies teen screen time. That can lead to a form of extended adolescence, she said.

It can also distract youngsters from schoolwork, exercise and other healthy activities, she said.

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