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Surprise! Inspirational Text Messages Won’t Improve Teens’ Grades

But they're usually so obedient!
"Oh, okay, NOW I'll study." (Photo: Gregor Richardson, ODT)

“Oh, okay, NOW I’ll study.” (Photo: Gregor Richardson, ODT)

All those “Good Luck!” texts you’ve been sending your teen on test day aren’t doing a damn thing, science says.

We could have told you that anyway, but Harvard University economist Roland Fryer actually conducted an experiment to study the effects of inspirational texts on teens’ grades. Yes, this sounds like the most productive use of a Harvard economist’s time.

Kids were bribed with free cell phones in return for receiving daily texts encouraging them to study hard, stay in school, blah blah blah, The Guardian reports. Two examples: “People don’t look down on someone for being too educated,” and, “High school dropouts are more than three times as likely to be unemployed as college graduates.” Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

We’ve thought of a few more effective texts the Harvard set could have sent:

“Good grades are better than sex, I assume. I’ve never had sex.”

“Come on, don’t you want to be an iBanker?”

And of course, “I hope you do well — but not as well as me.”

We can’t imagine why this didn’t work. After all, think back to when you were a teen. You did everything adults told you to do, especially when it came in the form of a text message, right? Shockingly, the teens involved in this study weren’t so obedient.

Best of all, students insisted that they were totally starting to value education and study harder, while Mr. Fryer saw no improvement whatsoever in their academic results or even their attendance. They got to keep the free phones though, and that’s all that matters.

Hear that, middle-aged aunts with Facebook accounts? If something’s intended as inspirational, you should probably just never post it anywhere because it isn’t going to work.

[H/T The Guardian]

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