Problematic cell phone use for text messaging and substance abuse in early adolescence (11- to 13-year-olds)

Luigi Gallimberti, Alessandra Buja, Sonia Chindamo, Alberto Terraneo, Elena Marini, Andrea Rabensteiner, Angela Vinelli, Luis Javier Gomez Perez, Vincenzo Baldo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of our study was to examine the association between problematic cell phone use (PCPU) for text messaging and substance abuse in young adolescents. This cross-sectional study was conducted on the basis of an ad hoc questionnaire, during the 2014–2015 school year in a province of the Veneto Region (Italy); it involved a sample of 1156 students in grades 6 to 8 (11 to 13 years old). A self-report scale based on the Short Message Service (SMS) Problem Use Diagnostic Questionnaire (SMS-PUDQ) was administered to assess the sample’s PCPU. A multivariate logistic regression model was applied to seek associations between PCPU (as the dependent variable) and independent variables. The proportion of students who reported a PCPU increased with age in girls (13.5 % in 6th grade, 16.4 % in 7th grade, and 19.5 % in 8th grade), but not in boys (14.3 % in 6th grade, 18.0 % in 7th grade, and 14.8 % in 8th grade). Logistic regression showed that drunkenness at least once and energy drink consumption raised the odds of PCPU, whereas reading books, higher average school marks, and longer hours of sleep were associated with lower odds of PCPU in early adolescence. Conclusion: our findings confirm a widespread PCPU for text messaging among early adolescents. The odds of PCPU is greater in young people at risk of other substance abuse behavior.What is Known:• Problematic cell phone use (PCPU) is associated with smoking and alcohol consumption in older adolescence.What is New:• PCPU is widespread in early adolescence and it is associated with other unhealthy types of behavior.• Prevention, based on a multicomponent intervention strategy, should take PCPU into account for early adolescents too.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-364
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Adolescents
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Energy drink consumption
  • Problematic cell phone use
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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