Teenology 101

Social Media, Shaming, and How To Respond When Teens Make Mistakes

iStock_000015335905_DoubleRecently, Monica Lewinsky gave a TED talk titled “The Price of Shame” that has become a viral sensation with millions of views.  In the talk, Lewinsky boldly shares her experiences around the exposure of her affair with President Bill Clinton in the 1990s and the fallout of that scandal, which was fueled by the rapid spread of information (and misinformation) on the Internet.  She also points out that when the affair began, she was just 22 years old–an age that experts say is still part of adolescence.  Yet the public shaming for her mistake (which she says she “regrets deeply”) has been carried throughout all parts of her adult life.  Teens and young adults will make mistakes–how can we help them learn from them, rather than be defined by them?

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Whole Nutrition in Schools

eating strawberryThe American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a policy statement on food in schools emphasizing a “whole nutrition” approach to food that is consumed in school.  This could include breakfast, lunch, and/or snacks.  The writers point out that there have already been changes in school lunches to make cafeteria food more nutritious, but lunches that students bring to school might not meet healthy standards.  Having healthy, nutritious meals throughout the school day is essential for concentration in class and performance in sports and gym class.  How can parents help teens eat healthy at school?

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Hazing and teens

safety in numbersLast fall, just as I went on maternity leave, there was an incident involving hazing on the East Coast that received quite a bit of media attention. It involved a group of teens from a local New Jersey high school football team and occurred at the time of homecoming. The teens allegedly held down other teens and touched or groped them in a sexually explicit way. One teen was also kicked. In the news article that covered the incident, the responses from adults in the community varied widely. One mother reported: “No one was hurt, no one died — I don’t understand why they’re being punished.” Her comment made me consider the question: “Is hazing ever okay?” Read full post »

Positive Praise for teens with chronic illness

girl and dadAs a medical provider who cares for many teens I am constantly amazed by their accomplishments, tenacity, and juggling of busy schedules. Teens with chronic illness have even more challenges than those with more typical health. I sometimes we adults forget to give credit where credit is due, so I’d like to highlight some of the characteristics I’ve noticed amongst my patients over the years. I’d encourage parents to also take a moment to give your teen some positive praise too! Read full post »

Electronic Music, raves, and substance use

DJ partyI’ve heard advertisments on the radio recently for a popular electronic music concert festival. Music festivals are often a place for young people to gather, create memories, and just enjoy their favorite artisits. While I am a big fan of live music, summer music festivals have been associated with drug overdoses in the past. The concert venues do their best to keep the festivals clean by having security present, a screening process for entry, and help available, but there is still a risk that people will get high. Since the summer is coming along with many different outdoor festivals, it’s timely to provide parents and teens with an update on some newer substances that may make an appearance. Read full post »

Body image and acceptance

I was looking at a social media page recently and saw a video that struck a cord with me. There is a new video campaign that portrays girls ages 5-11 years old with curly hair. These girls tell all the things they dislike about their hair. In the end, the mothers of the girls show them how positive and amazing it is to be unique. The final message to the consumer is that people are more likely to be accepting of themselves if those around them also have positive self-image (i.e. the girls will love their curls if their own moms love their hair). The purpose of the campaign is to sell hair products, but watching this video reminded me not only of my patients, who often come to see me with poor self-esteem and distorted body image, but of my own youth. See video here Read full post »

Adolescence, legal age, and fake ID’s

parents yellingI was chatting with a friend who mentioned that she caught her own teen with a fake ID. Her son is a good kid: he is on the honor roll, in extracurricular activities, has a great social group, and doesn’t get into trouble. So she was extremely surprised to catch him with a fake ID and even more surprised when he told her the ID’s come in a 3 pack, so he’d just use another one if she confiscated it. This is the second friend who has recently told me they found their teen’s fake ID. Neither of them were expecting their kid to have one. Read full post »

Rape, Bill Cosby, and Advice

teencut-150x150Sexual assault is a subject that can be uncomfortable to talk about for many reasons: there is stigma and blame for victims, no parent wants to think it could happen to their child, and no parent wants to think their child could be a perpetrator. Recent media events have outlined allegations that Bill Cosby drugged an assaulted numerous women. We’re not here to give opinions about his innocence or guilt, but this is an opportunity to talk about this problem. Dr. Anne-Marie Amies Oelschlager, Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecologist, is our guest blogger. She gives her perspective on sexual assault and offers sound advice for anyone who has been a victim. Read full post »

e-cigarettes and commercials

e-cigaretteRecently, I had a rare opportunity to watch cable TV in the evening. As I sunk into the sofa I heard something that probably hasn’t been heard on TV in decades: “as a cigarette smoker, I’m always looking for the best puff.” I looked up and saw a healthy appearing young man describe the benefits of a new cigarette. At this point I was speechless! This was the first of two different commercials for vaporized cigarettes or e-cigarettes, that I saw over the course of the evening. The second featured attractive scientists in a lab creating a cigarette with the newest technology that gave “efficient” puffs. Unlike the pharmaceutical commercials that I’m now accustomed to hearing, neither mentioned any potential dangers or side effects of nicotine. Neither really mentioned the word nicotine at all. Read full post »

Measles outbreaks, amusement parks, and vaccinations

Flu or allergy shot. This image is available exclusively on Istock.I took a bit of a break from blogging to expand my family over the holiday season. Returning from maternity leave this week, one of the first headlines I noticed in my email inbox was regarding the measles outbreak that is currently in progress at a major theme park in California. As a pediatrician and now mother of two, I take my children to venues geared toward fun on a regular basis. There are playdates, birthday parties, museums, and many trips to the airport to fly to see family. My older daughter is more comfortable at the airport than at preschool! Considering whether or not they could be infected with a life threatening illness is not typically at the top of my worry list, and I would argue that no parent should have to worry about disease when taking their children to have a fun time. Read full post »