US Public Health mix up correlation and causation

Heard it all now. The American Public Health Association are stating that ‘hyper-texting’ can cause health problems in teenagers. Their exact wording: “The startling results of this study suggest that when left unchecked texting and other widely popular methods of staying connected can have dangerous health effects on teenagers,” said Scott Frank, MD, MS, lead researcher on the study.

Er, no, what a load of twaddle. What they have found is a correlation: that the usual suspects – teens who drink, smoke, sleep around, take drugs, don’t have dads – also ‘hyper-text’ i.e. send more that 100+ texts a day. What a surprise – they have probably bunked off school and bored (when not indulging in these other activities). Does ‘hyper-texting’ cause ill-health? No. Relax all ye twitterers too. Though try telling that to the Daily Mail!

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About Julia Manning

Julia Manning is a social pioneer, writer, campaigner and commentator. Formerly a clinical optometrist specialising in diabetes and visual impairment, she is the founder and Director of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal and Social. 2020health has through research, events and campaigning influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. In 2014, 2020health were founding partners of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Since 2016, 2020health has increasingly focused on digital health and public health in the community. Julia is a Fellow of the RSA and now also a part-time PhD student at the UCL Interaction Centre, studying the use of digital technology for stress management in the workplace. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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