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!

About Julia Manning

Julia is a social pioneer, writer and campaigner. She studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991, later specialising in visual impairment and diabetes. During her career in optometry, she lectured at City University, was a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital and worked with Primary Care Trusts. She ran a domiciliary practice across south London and was a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. Julia formed 20/20Health in 2006. Becoming an expert in digital health solutions, she led on the NHS–USA Veterans’ Health Digital Health Exchange Programme and was co-founder of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Her research interests are now in harnessing digital to improve personal health, and she is a PhD candidate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at UCL. She is also dedicated to creating a sustainable Whole School Wellbeing Community model for schools that builds relationships, discovers assets and develops life skills. She is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Digital Health Council. 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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