Teens addicted to texting

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by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @MegCoyleKING

KING5.com

Posted on August 23, 2010 at 7:51 PM

These days teenagers communicate without saying a word. They use their thumbs and cell phones to tap out thousands of messages, sometimes in a single day.

Some medical professionals worry that texting may be an addiction.

Eighty percent of all kids own a cell phone. And the rate of texting has skyrocketed 600 percent in three years.

"It's right by my bed when I go to sleep. And right by my bed when I wake up. It's like the first thing I go to," says 15-year-old Sarah Marshall.

Texting may be the new nicotine. Doctors say texting and the instant gratification of getting a text back floods the brain's pleasure center with the mood-enhancing Dopamine.

"Neuro-imaging studies have shown that those kids who are texting have that area of the brain light up the same as an addict using heroin. And they will actually describe, when I don't have it I feel bad, I feel anxious or I feel sad," says Dr. Michael Seyffert, a brain specialist who treats teens with sleeping disorders at a sleep clinic in New Jersey.

Seyffert found that one in five of them is interrupting sleep to text, triggering problems.

"With sleep deprivation, they are having a problem performing. They're going from A or honor roll students to barely passing," he said.

Despite the potential downsides parents admit texting has become a necessary evil. Kids are more likely to respond to a text from mom or dad, than a phone call.

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