Adolescents’ Text Message Communication and Growth in Antisocial Behavior Across the First Year of High School
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This study examined whether adolescents communicate about antisocial topics and behaviors via text messaging and how adolescents’ antisocial text message communication relates to growth in rule-breaking and aggression as reported by youth, parents, and teachers. Participants (n = 172; 82 girls) received BlackBerry devices configured to capture all text messages sent and received. Four days of text messages during the 9th grade year were coded for discussion of antisocial activities. The majority of participants engaged in at least some antisocial text message communication. Text messaging about antisocial activities significantly predicted increases in parent, teacher, and self-reports of adolescents’ rule-breaking behavior, as well as teacher and self-reports of adolescents’ aggressive behavior. Text message communication may provide instrumental information about how to engage in antisocial behavior and reinforce these behaviors as normative within the peer group.