Teens are drinking less, texting more
Teens are drinking less, texting more A driver uses an iPhone while driving in Los Angeles
Teens are drinking less, texting more
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American teens are smoking less, drinking less and fighting less. But they're texting behind the wheel and spending a lot of time on video games and computers, according to the government's latest study of worrisome behavior.

Generally speaking, the news is good. Most forms of drug use, weapons use and risky sex have been going down since the government started doing the survey every two years in 1991. Teens are wearing bicycle helmets and seat belts more, too.

"Overall, young people have more healthy behaviors than they did 20 years ago," said Dr. Stephanie Zaza, who oversees the study at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The results come from a study of 13,000 U.S. high school students last spring. Participation was voluntary and required parental permission, but responses were anonymous.

Highlights of the study, released Thursday:


Fewer than 16 percent of the teens smoked a cigarette in the previous month the lowest level since the government started doing the survey, when the rate was more than 27 percent. Another CDC study had already put the teen smoking rate below 16 percent, but experts tend to treat this survey's result as the official number. It's "terrific news for America's health," said Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Even so, there are still about 2.7 million teens smoking, he said.

The survey did not ask about electronic cigarettes, which have exploded in popularity in the past few years.

Meanwhile, more than 23 percent of teens said they used marijuana in the previous month up from 15 percent in 1991. CDC officials said they could not tell whether marijuana or e-cigarettes have replaced traditional cigarettes among teens.


Among teen drivers, 41 percent had texted or emailed behind the wheel in the previous month. That figure can't be compared to the 2011 survey, though, because the CDC changed the question this time. The latest survey gives texting-while-driving figures for 37 states ranging from 32 percent in Massachusetts to 61 percent in South Dakota.


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.


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.


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


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.


Fights at school fell by half in the past 20 years. And there was a dramatic drop in kids reporting they had been in a fight anywhere in the preceding year about 25 percent, down from 33 percent two years earlier. The addition of more guards and other security measures may be a factor, said school violence expert Todd DeMitchell of the University of New Hampshire.

Fighting may be down, but it's not uncommon, according to some teens at the High School of Fashion Industries in lower Manhattan. Two students said they saw roughly one fight a week.

"It's like 'The Hunger Games,'" said 14-year-old Maya Scott. She said she had been in a fight during the current school year.

A few minutes later, as if to prove her point, three girls exchanged words and nearly came to blows outside the front entrance before a school lunch worker stepped in and separated them.

Critical thinking challenge: 2.7 million teens are still smoking why is this good news?

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/teen/teens-are-drinking-less-texting-more/

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Assigned 62 times

  • ttravillion-Cla
    9/16/2014 - 12:09 p.m.

    Its good news because less people are drinking and smoking so now there's less car accidents, but its still kind of bad because now people are texting while driving...

  • tommysb4
    10/09/2014 - 02:04 p.m.

    Drinking and smoking are going down, i know as i am a high school student, but also e-cigs, vapes and marijuana are on the rise, more than likely because of all the information that marijuana isn't bad for you or addictive, & that THC is therapeutic for many patients with illnesses, but e-cigs and vapes are a lot better for you than normal cigarettes. Only 4 ingredients in the e-cig ingredients, nicotine being an option if you want it or not, better for you than all the chemicals, carcinogens, and tar in a normal cigarettes. Fighting has gone down because of all the punishments including fines or community service. Suicide rates will continue going down because of all the therapy and help you can get. Overall this country is getting much better, from the view of a high school student.

  • GiovanniKing-Pet
    10/14/2014 - 01:19 p.m.

    I think that its good that kids these days are texting instead of drinking because drinking can do bad things to you texting isnt really doing any thing but communicate with others.

  • CCG-Ver
    11/14/2014 - 09:21 a.m.

    I think the reason that teens start doing things like this is because they feel that they have to act grown up and so they take on drinking and smoking and that's how teenages ar e hooked on to these things

  • ne2001bieber
    11/14/2014 - 01:00 p.m.

    That is good news because less teens are smoking, but it wasn't specific also. Teens could be smoking weed, electronic cigs, or vapor ones. Which are better than regular cigs.

  • jeanileisyt-Koc
    12/05/2014 - 02:00 p.m.

    It is the reality in today's modern society. Video games, cellphones, computers and all electronic devices had became more popular and more used for today's teenager. It had a great impact in in our lives because we had lost the communication with our parents and friends. In my case I don't expend a lot of my time on my phone because the time is gold and I worth it.

  • LAvery-Sti
    12/18/2014 - 10:09 a.m.

    Texting and driving is a very bad thing. Things can lead to bad habits and very scary things. This could be very bad but yet in a other way good.

  • JKaitlyn-Sti
    12/19/2014 - 10:21 a.m.

    This is not good. I know a lot of people including a few of my friends that are addicted and have these habbets. I try to help. But you cant help someone that don't want help.

  • bradleys-war
    2/06/2015 - 02:02 p.m.

    I think people are definitely playing more videogames but im believe the whole thing about people not doing drugs because when I play my videogames and I join a public lobby halfway thrue the game people say they have to smoke a bong or have a smoke so researchers might want to do a little more research k .

  • ratiaira
    2/09/2015 - 01:44 p.m.

    critical thinking challenge? I think it is good news because the teens that used to smoke were probably more maybe 5 million but now it is down to 2.7 so that must mean there has been change to the old habits

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