Associations Among Text Messaging, Academic Performance, and Sexual Behaviors of Adolescents
- This study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, as part of the first author's/principal investigator's fellowship work at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
- [Correction added on 06 April 2016, after first online publication: the name of one of the co-authors has been changed from Rebecca A. Braun to “Rebecca Braun”.]
Text messaging is an increasingly common mode of communication, especially among adolescents, and frequency of texting may be a measure of one's sociability. This study examined how text messaging (“texting”) frequency and academic performance are associated with adolescent sexual behaviors.
A cross-sectional survey was administered to students at a public charter high school in Los Angeles County, CA. Two hundred fifty-six high school students aged 14-20 years participated. Outcome measures were history of vaginal sex, condom use, and worries about pregnancy. The main predictors were text messaging frequency and self-reported academic performance.
In general, students with lower grades were more likely to have had vaginal sex. Greater texting frequency, however, was associated with vaginal sex only among students with higher grades. In addition, despite similar rates of condom use, sexually active students who both had good grades and texted frequently were more likely than others to have thought they or their partner might be pregnant.
The association between texting and sexual behaviors may vary based on adolescent's academic performance. Adolescent sexual health interventions may benefit from using a combination of sociability measures (such as texting frequency) and academic performance as risk predictors.