Smartphones might be keeping kids off drugs, researchers think

Image Source | Getty Images

Researchers are investigating a correlation between falling drug usage and rising use of smartphones and tablets, the New York Times reported this week.

Marijuana use has fallen in eighth and 10th graders in the past 10 years, while use of cocaine, hallucinogens, ecstasy and crack are down among 12th graders, the Times reported. Heroin use has also fallen among high schoolers, the Times said, citing a recent report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Researchers are exploring theories about whether smartphone activities, like playing video games, fulfill the "sensation seeking" role of drugs, though that idea "still needs to be proved," one expert told the Times.

A teen told the Times that a smartphone allows her to disengage and start texting when a bong or joint is being passed at parties. A school counselor told the Times that he was "more likely to have a challenge with a student who has a video game addiction than I am a student who is addicted to drugs."

For more on the burgeoning research, see the story at NYTimes.com.