Distracted parents driving teens to texting

npr image for teens texting reportTeenagers tend to follow their parents’ lead when it comes to driving … and texting?

NPR’s “Morning Edition” just did a segment on teens, texting and distracted driving, citing anecdotal evidence that youth who see their parents engaged in dangerous behaviors while behind the wheel see that as a green light to do the same.

One teen told NPR: “If a parent is always on their cell phone, the teen’s like, oh, it’s fine. My parents do it all the time. And if their parents haven’t crashed, then it’s kind of like, okay. It’s not going to happen.”

Amanda Lenhart of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project surveyed 800 teens and their parents about text messagng behind the wheel.

“(Teens) would tell stories about their parents’ texting with the phone while trying to drive with their knees,” Lenhart said on the radio feature. “They would talk about other ways in which parents were distracted behind the wheel, including using GPS or trying to use a walkie-talkie function on a phone, or make calls.”

And some of those kids say they’re downright scared of riding with their distracted parents, the NPR feature said.

Lenhart’s study “Teens and Mobile Phones” (April 20) found that daily text messaging among U.S. teens soared in a recent 18-month period, from 38% to 54%. Older teenage girls were the busiest texters, the Pew study found, sending an average of 100 messages a day.

One in three teens admitted to texting while driving, while 52% of teens who have cell phones said they had talked while behind the wheel.

Lynn Neary’s radio report was part of the “Today in Your Health” series.

Listen to the NPR report on teens, parents and texting.
Read the “Working to Stop Teens Texting Behind the Wheel” transcript.

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