Teenology 101

Safe Sun Exposure

beachSave Your Skin: Savvy Sunning

By: Guest Author Hannah Smith RN, BSN, CPN DNP-PNP student

Sunny days in Seattle are a treat! When the rays come out, so do we, looking for a bit of warmth while we can. It is easy for me to justify staying in the sun on my back porch, at Greenlake, or Golden Gardens as long as possible to soak up the rays. I am definitely guilty of being in the sun through the warmest park of the day, because as you know, it may be cloudy tomorrow!

Did you put a sunhat on your child or beach umbrella over them when they were younger? Strong work! Those physical barriers are very effective in preventing skin damage. Skin is delicate and vulnerable to UV rays.

Teens need to protect their skin as it’s the only skin they get for their entire life. Everything you do to reduce UV exposure can help to prevent a type of skin cancer called melanoma from developing later in life. That may seem like a long ways off to a teen, but melanoma is not just a cancer in older people, it can appear as early as your 20s. Melanoma is dangerous, and can spread to other parts of your body.

Besides cancer, excess sun exposure will also prematurely age skin with wrinkles and brown spots. The savvy sunning habits that you and your teen create now can help to save their skin in the future.

I don’t want parents or teens to be scared of the sun because it is a wonderful resource that this earth has. It can help lift your mood, synthesize vitamin D, and synchronize your biorhythms. As with most things, moderation is key. I just want parents and teens to learn how to enjoy the sunshine safely. Here are some tips:

Sunscreen Selection

  • Use a sunscreen that covers both UVA & UVB rays.
  • Use a SPF of at least 45.
  • Apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before going out doors for better absorption.
  • Apply at least 1 oz. of sunscreen.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. Even if it is waterproof sweating and touching your skin will rub it off.

UV Exposure

  • Use sunscreen year round on exposed skin. Even on cloudy days UV rays come through the clouds. Higher temperatures so not equal higher UV rays.
  • Check your local UV index at http://www2.epa.gov/sunwise/uv-index

Lifestyle

  • Avoid the most intense sun between 10am-4pm by sitting in the shade, using a hat, or wearing a light over-up.
  • Buy some stylish sunglasses and use them!
  • Avoid tanning beds. Even ONE session increases your risk of melanoma by 20%.

Be educated, and go enjoy the sun!

Keeping up with Social Media

Thirteen year old boy text messaging to a friendI think it’s time to address social media again. The summer is in full swing, teens are out of school either working, volunteering, traveling, or just hanging out. Being away from school usually means there is less opportunity to see friends in person. This is the time when my teen patients teach me a variety of new applications for smartphones and social media outlets that they use to keep in touch with each other.

The tide of what is popular amongst teens is always changing. A few years ago Facebook was the popular way to connect; when I was in college, MySpace was the site everyone used. I can guarantee that next year, teens will be using a completely different list of sites to communicate with each other. Their quest: to speak to each other without adults snooping in. Read full post »

Girls on the Run – promoting self esteem

joggingOver the summer, we’re continuing to highlight positive opportunities available to teens. I had the privilege of interviewing a representative from Girls on the Run, an amazing program that promotes physical activity and so much more for teen girls. Though this interview is with a representative from outside of Washington State, she gives an excellent overview of the program. Information about the Puget Sound chapter can be found here and at the very end of the post.

  1. What is Girls on the Run? What is it’s mission?

Girls on the Run is a physical activity-based positive youth development program (PA-PYD) designed to develop and enhance girls’ social, psychological and physical competencies to successfully navigate life experience. The mission of Girls on the Run St. Louis is to empower girls for a lifetime of healthy living. Our program for girls in the 3rd through 8th grades inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.

The 20-lesson Girls on the Run curriculum combines training for a 5k (3.1 miles) running event with lessons that inspire girls to become independent thinkers, enhance their problem solving skills and make healthy decisions. All of this is accomplished through an active collaboration with girls and their parents, schools, volunteers, staff, and the community. Read full post »

Research opportunity: Access to Health Care for Transgender Youth

HiResA Research Study About Access to Health Care for Transgender Youth

Version date: June 11, 2015

Researchers at Seattle Children’s want to learn about barriers faced by transgender youth and their families when they seek health care.

Are you a parent or guardian of a young person who is transgender, gender variant, or gender questioning? You could participate in our online survey about your family’s experience with health care and receive a $10 gift card. Survey responses are confidential and will not affect your child’s health care. There are no direct benefits to you if you take part in the study. Research is always voluntary!

To participate in the survey, please contact Julia Crouch at 206-884-1433 or julia.crouch@seattlechildrens.org.

The principal researcher for this study is Dr. David Breland at Seattle Children’s, Adolescent Medicine.

Break Dancing and Seattle Youth

Break dancing Massive MonkeesWe’d like to highlight positive opportunities for teens so in this post, guest blogger Dr. Alok Patel writes about his experiences with the amazing break dancing crew, Massive Monkees.

Getting a teenager to focus is a daunting, nearly impossible task, for any professional. Smart phones, social media, and hormone-driven behaviors often corner the market for a high-schooler’s attention span. Nonetheless, the resurgence of a throwback dance-style, with a blend of mentorship, is turning heads in South Seattle. Teenagers, all over, are discovering themselves in breakdancing, or ‘breaking’ – the show stealing, acrobatic, immersive art, that can be seen anywhere from 80’s movies, to commercials, to music videos.

The rhythmic movements captivate adolescents and world-renowned bboy crew, the Massive Monkees, alongside Arts Corps, are parlaying the fascination into the nation’s first dance-based youth leadership program, right here in Seattle. Read full post »

How much sleep do teens need?

insomniaSleep. Such an elusive thing to have enough of! As parents, we’re juggling work, family, and personal obligations. Sleep often comes second to the other tasks that need to be accomplished during the day. Teens in our country are also struggling to be productive and find the balance between sleep and obligations. Unfortunately, US teens are not getting enough sleep and this can have consequences.

There are many reasons why sleep may be elusive for adolescents. They may have extracurricular committments such as work, homework, sports, clubs, youth groups or all of the above. Or they may have poor sleep hygiene and spend their time on social networking sites, texting with friends, watching movies, or listening to music. If they aren’t sleeping enough at night, they may feel so exhausted during the day that they take long naps, which further disrupts sleep patterns. Middle and high school start times are quite early, so it’s not out of the norm to hear my patients describe waking up at 5am to get ready to catch a bus or ride to school. Nor is it abnormal to hear them going to bed after midnight on school days. Read full post »

Preventing substance use

UW guide for parents studyPreventing substance use during the middle school years

By Sabrina Oesterle, PhD, Social Development Research Group, School of Social Work, University of Washington

Does your daughter crave your attention, but doesn’t want to be seen with you in public? Is your son always too busy to talk to you, but talks or texts with friends constantly on his cell phone? Does your daughter spend hours in front of the mirror, but is never satisfied with how she looks? Is your child full of energy and happy one day and the next day grumpy and can’t get off the couch?

If any of these scenarios sound familiar – welcome to the middle school years!

The years between about age 11 and 14 are filled with a wonderful mix of emotions and concerns for you and your child. It’s a time of great contrasts when your child is still at times very much a child – full of innocence and seeking your love and attention – but also quickly turning into a teenager needing independence and craving attention and validation from peers. During the middle school years, your child will be exposed to a host of new experiences – many are opportunities for positive growth, but others can be risky. Read full post »

A Mom’s Place in Violence Prevention

African-American single-parent familyWhen I turned on the news this week and watched emerging coverage of the violence in Baltimore, my heart sank because so many of the people involved appeared to be adolescents.  I thought about everything that led up to this: a system of poverty, undereducation, inequality, and bias that contributed to the anger and actions of these youth.   Coincidentally, I happened to be at a pediatric research conference where I had just learned of a study showing that adolescent boys who reported having a supportive family member (mostly mothers, but also fathers, grandparents, aunts, and uncles) were less likely to be involved in violence than boys without such support.  That’s why I was so interested to see the story of Toya Graham, a mom in Baltimore who was caught on tape disciplining her son after she saw him among rioters.

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Implicit bias

Students Sitting on StepsMedia coverage of numerous events involving police shootings of innocent African Americans has spurred the nation to consider the biases we hold. Every person holds assumptions. Simply living in a set culture, individuals take on behaviors and associations that are prevelant in the society. Sometimes these associations are helpful and sometimes they are not.

Examples that call out our implicit bias are showing up all over social media. I recently saw a social media post that described showing 3 cartoon pictures of 10 year old boys to a group of school kids. One cartoon pictured an overweight boy, one was thin with glasses, and the last was able bodied and dressed in trendy clothing. The school children labeled the boys. The overweight one they called ‘lazy,’ the thin boy was the ‘nerd’ or ‘smart’ and the final boy was ‘popular.’ The next day, there was a post that took loved ones and dressed them like they were homeless and placed them on the street. Their own family members walked right by and didn’t acknowledge their existence. These were spouses, siblings, best friends who were ignored because their look was changed and they were placed in a different context. Read full post »

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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