Too Much Texting May Leave College Kids Sleepy
Study found more texting lined up with less high-quality slumber
As well, all underwent standard assessments for sleep quality and signs of sleep disturbances.
The result: Higher daily texting lined up with poorer sleep, perhaps because students felt compelled to respond to incoming texts, no matter the time of day, Murdock said.
In addition, heavier texting activity was also associated with increased difficulties in coping with stress for those already experiencing it. And although the study did not specifically set out to examine the reasons for this, Murdock suggested that the lack of nuance, context and key visual cues that typifies texting could account for the increased vulnerability to stress that the activity appears to prompt.
"[And] text messaging is unique in the nearly perpetual access to social contact that it provides," she explained. "[So] during times of stress in social relationships, frequent texting may prevent a restorative or health-promoting pause in communication from occurring."
However, Murdock advised against concluding that texting raises the risk for severe mental health issues among college students.
"We measured academic and social burnout and emotional well-being," she noted. "None of these is really a psychological problem, like depression or anxiety. They are just different aspects of well-being. [So] I would say the bottom line is moderation in all things, including texting."
Tara Marshall, a lecturer in the department of psychology at Brunel University's School of Social Sciences in Uxbridge, England, also cautioned against reading too much into the study's observations.
"Although these findings have potential implications for students' well-being, namely that they should reduce their texting, especially when feeling already stressed, it's important to note that the findings are correlational and do not show that texting causes reductions in well-being," she said.
"There could be other factors not measured in this study that underlie both greater texting behavior and propensity for interpersonal stress, " Marshall added, "such as higher neuroticism or lower self-esteem. These personality traits could be responsible for the link with burnout, sleep problems and compromised well-being, rather than texting per se. Until these personality traits are taken into account, and controlled experiments demonstrate that greater texting causes sleep problems, the results of this study need to be taken with a grain of salt. "