Teenology 101

Addressing Traumatic Events in the Media

family watching tvOver the past 2 weeks, multiple events have been receiving media coverage. These range from the death of a beloved celebrity to the shooting of an unarmed African American young man in Missouri; reaching as close as the death of a shooting instructor by a very young student to as far as the conflict between Israel and Palestine.  These events often stir up strong emotions as well as strong opinions amongst colleagues and friends. Teens are using social media on a regular basis and are likely well aware of the trending news stories. As parents, how do we address these events with our children? Some of the topics may hit close to home and others may seem like they are happening a world away, but all of them can lead to conversations and provide opportunities for reflection and learning. Read full post »

Another Reason For Teens to Avoid Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

sodasWhen my mother was young, she lived in rural South Africa, and soda was a rare treat. She only had soda (somewhat ironically) after her twice-yearly dentist visit, when she and my grandmother would stop into a cafe to order one. She continues her habits to this day, and very rarely drinks anything carbonated and sweetened.

For many teens today, sweetened beverages are daily treats, or even enjoyed a few times a day. Teens drinks not only soda, but energy drinks, sweetened iced teas, and other sugary concoctions. About three-quarters of teens have at least one sugar-sweetened drink daily.

We’ve discussed healthy eating before, and how any sugar-containing drink should be limited to special occasions. However, an intriguing new study may point to an additional benefit of avoiding sweetened beverages: improved brain function. Read full post »

When Not To Call Your Teen

young woman driving on highway while reading / writing text on smart phone.Parenting teens changed with the advent of the cell phone. I can think of multiple dilemmas from my adolescence that a cell phone would have helped my parents and I enormously: when I was late, when I was lost, when I needed help. Cell phones and smartphones have become integral parts of most of our lives. I was recently in a place with no cell phone service, and realized how much I’ve come to rely on my iPhone and all its information at my fingertips (I had to read a paper map.)

Teens can text their parents instead of yelling from their bedroom, parents can remind their teen to do something after they’ve left the house, and parents can even track their teens via cell phone to make sure they are where they say they are (or at least, where their cell phone is.) Like all technology, cell phones, smartphones, tablets, etc. have their positive and  negative effects on society. However, a study recently came out showing that parents’ attempts to keep in touch with teens can be putting them in danger. Read full post »

Taking Your Teen on Vacation

teen divingVacations are chances to separate from everyday cares, explore new places, and reconnect with loved ones. Whether you’re traveling globally or having a “staycation” and enjoying your home town, I believe vacations are vital for coping with stress and gaining perspective on life. For families, vacations can be a way to enjoy each other’s company without the distractions or hassles of day-to-day life.

Family vacations change as people change, and taking a teenager on vacation is often quite different from taking a child. Here are some ideas on making family vacations with teens enjoyable and low-stress for everyone.

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What is a hookah and is it safe

Girl smoking waterpipeAs fewer teens are smoking cigarettes, other trends in tobacco and nicotine use are starting to rise. One of these is the use of e-cigarettes or e-vapes. E-cigarettes include the use of a nicotine containing cartridges that is vaporized so the use can inhale the product. A second trend is one I hadn’t given much thought to until recently: smoking a hookah. Is this dangerous? How does it compare to smoking a cigarette?

The hookah (aka water pipe) is a pipe where tobacco (or other leaves, like herbs or marijuana) is heated, the smoke passes through water to cool it into a vapor, and this vapor is inhaled through an individual mouth piece. Hookah use originated in Asia and the Middle East, but it’s popularity is growing in urban settings in the US. Unlike cigarette smoking, most states do not have a ban on hookah use inside public settings so hookah bars are starting to pop up. Teens are also finding their way to using the hookah. Read full post »

Sexting and cellphones

Unrecognizable young girl using a touch phone modern gadget.We’ve posted about online safety as well as the dangers of sending sexually explicit text messages in the past, but a recent study in the journal Pediatrics, highlights the importance of making sure we educate teens and tweens about sexting early on.

In the study, researchers looked at the results of a national survey of middle school students. They found that 20% of students who had a cell phone reported receiving a sext and 5% reported sending a sext. For those students who send more than 100 text messages each day, they were over 2 times more likely to receive a sext and 4.5 times more likely to send a sext. They also found that those same students were more likely to be sexually active. In general, students who sent or received sexts were more likely to be sexually active and higher rates of texting were associated with higher rates of unprotected sex. Read full post »

Physical activity and wearable fitness trackers

joggingGuest post by Dr. Jason Mendoza

Staying physically active is a tough task for many people, including teens. Most teens in the US do not meet current guidelines that recommend obtaining at least 1-hour of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity on a daily basis. This is the type of physical activity that makes you breathe faster and elevates your heart rate. Unfortunately, the teenage years are when people’s physical activity declines the most, which can adversely affect current and future health. Read full post »

Recreational marijuana and a parent’s role in prevention

store openingThis week the first recreational marijuana stores opened in Washington State. Initiative 502 was passed in 2012 to legalize marijuana in the state without a physician’s recommendation, but it was just yesterday that recreational stores could legally sell it. One store opened in Seattle, the others were in Bellingham, Prosser, and Spokane. It remains illegal for anyone under age 21 to use or possess marijuana, but legalizing recreational use does send a message to those who aren’t yet adults: it’s legal now, so it must be ok, right? We’ve had posts on marijuana legalization and teen marijuana use in the past, but here we wanted to highlight the importance of parents in preventing underage use. Read full post »

How Parents Can Keep Up With the Social Media Landscape

ellenThis is a guest post by Adolescent Medicine fellow Ellen Selkie, MD.

We’ve talked about social media on this blog before . It continues to dominate the lives of teens, though the type or platform of social media is always changing. How can a parent keep up? Well, first, you can read this brief overview of social media platforms most used by teens. Then, check out info below about more learning opportunities! Read full post »

Fourth of July Safety

teen divingFriday marks the Fourth of July and we’ll have an entire weekend to celebrate. This time of year the weather is usually great, people are in a good mood, and school is out. While we all have fun events planned, this is also a time when accidents can occur. One of the main themes you’ll see on this list is to avoid alcohol and drugs during fun activities. Being under the influence of substances can alter judgement and have deadly consequences. We’ve had posts on summer safety including drowning prevention, water safety, and driving in the past. Here we’ll highlight some of our tips for having a great and safe 4th of July weekend. Read full post »