Social Implications of Adolescent Text Messaging

Sarah S. Tulane, Utah State University

This work made publicly available electronically on June 10, 2012.


The purpose of this study was to pursue an understanding of social impacts of text messaging on adolescents. Mixed methodologies were used to gain an understanding of the social impacts of text messaging for adolescents. A sample (N = 218) of high school students was used to examine texting behaviors and practices, face-to-face communication preferences, and adolescent opinions about the use of text messaging in common social situations.

Texting behaviors and perceptions were related. Adolescents indicated they pretend to text in social situations for various reasons. For some, texting was an avoidance technique of self and others, others pretended to text to maintain a positive appearance in social situations, and for others pretending to text provided a sense of security. Hierarchical multiple regression was used to examine face-to-face communication in relation to texting behaviors and texting perceptions. Overall, texting behaviors and texting perceptions contributed to face-to-face communication. Finally, adolescents explained their perceptions of adult misconceptions of adolescent text messaging. They felt that adults have misconceptions about motivations and practices associated with text messaging, misconceptions concerning message content, and misconceptions about developmental impacts. There were also some participants who felt adults have accurate perceptions of adolescent texting.