Study: US teens are drinking less, texting more

June 12, 2014 by Mike Stobbe
Credit: Petr Kratochvil/public domain

American teens are smoking less, drinking less and fighting less. But they're texting behind the wheel and spending a lot of time on video games and computers, according to the government's latest study of worrisome behavior.

Generally speaking, the news is good. Most forms of drug use, weapons use and have been going down since the government started doing the survey every two years in 1991. Teens are wearing bicycle helmets and seat belts more, too.

"Overall, have more healthy behaviors than they did 20 years ago," said Dr. Stephanie Zaza, who oversees the risky-behavior study at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The results come from a study of 13,000 U.S. students last spring. Participation was voluntary and required parental permission, but responses were anonymous.

Highlights of the study released Thursday:

SMOKING

Fewer than 16 percent of the smoked a cigarette in the previous month—the lowest level since the government started doing the survey. The survey did not ask about .

Meanwhile, more than 23 percent of teens said they used marijuana in the previous month. CDC officials said they could not tell if, or to what extent, marijuana or e-cigarettes have replaced traditional cigarettes among teens.

FIGHTING

Fights at school fell by half in the past 20 years. And there was a dramatic drop in kids reporting they had been in a fight anywhere in the preceding year—about 25 percent, down from 33 percent two years earlier. The addition of more guards and other security measures may be a factor, said school violence expert Todd DeMitchell of the University of New Hampshire.

TEXTING

Among teen drivers, 41 percent had texted or emailed behind the wheel in the previous month. That figure can't be compared to the 2011 survey, though, because the CDC changed the question from the last time.

DRINKING

Fewer teens said they drank alcohol. Drinking of soda was down, too. About 35 percent said they had had alcohol in the previous month, down from 39 percent in 2011. About 27 percent said they drank soda each day. That was only a slight change from 2011 but a sizable drop from 34 percent in 2007.

SEX

The proportion of teens who had sex in the previous three months held steady at about 34 percent from 2011. Among them, condom use was unchanged at about 60 percent.

SUICIDE

The percentage who attempted suicide in the previous year held steady at about 8 percent.

MEDIA USE

TV viewing for three or more hours a day has stalled at around 32 percent since 2011. But in one of the largest jumps seen in the survey, there was a surge in the proportion of kids who spent three or more hours on an average school day on other kinds of recreational screen time, such as playing video or computer games or using a computer or smartphone for something other than schoolwork. That number rose to 41 percent, from 31 percent in 2011.

Health experts advise that teens get no more than two hours of recreational screen time a day, and that includes all screens—including Xboxes, smartphones and televisions.

Explore further: Using substances at school may be cry for help

More information: CDC study: www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/yrbs/index.htm

Related Stories

Using substances at school may be cry for help

May 3, 2014
When teens are caught drinking or using marijuana at school, a trip to the dean's office may not suffice. These students also should be screened for exposure to trauma, mental health problems and other serious health risks, ...

US study finds children's use of e-cigarettes is up (Update)

September 5, 2013
(AP)—Children—like adults—are increasingly trying electronic cigarettes, according to the first large U.S. study to gauge use by teenage students.

Teens who use alcohol and marijuana together are at higher risk for unsafe driving

April 28, 2014
Teenagers who drink alcohol and smoke marijuana may be at increased risk for unsafe driving, according to a study in the May issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Hispanic teens more likely to abuse drugs, survey finds

August 20, 2013
(HealthDay)—Hispanic teens are more likely to abuse illegal and legal drugs than their black or white peers, a new report finds.

Parental messages that stress no alcohol do get through, survey finds

April 1, 2014
(HealthDay)—Making it clear to your teen that underage drinking is unacceptable is a highly effective way to reduce the risk that he or she will use alcohol, a new survey shows.

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.