Author: Teenology 101

Our Profiles, Ourselves: Social Media and Teens’ Health

moreno 2013Guest Post by Dr. Megan Moreno

When a Stomachache is More Than a Stomachache

A few months into my adolescent medicine fellowship, I saw a patient with a fairly routine complaint: abdominal pain. But Tammy, the young woman in question, stuck with me, because of what she identified as the cause of her pain: an act of bullying, a few weeks before, on MySpace. Not so routine after all.

In 2006, when I first wondered aloud if other teens and young adults had experiences similar to Tammy’s, many people were unsure what social media really was, let alone if it was permanent or pervasive. Almost no one believed it could affect a person’s emotional or physical well-being.

Tammy’s visit illuminated the connection between social media and health. Her visit was one of the main reasons why I started the Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team, or SMAHRT, in 2008 at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

SMAHRT is dedicated to providing robust research on teens. We are taking a close look at social media patterns in teens like Tammy, who are sometimes a target of what we now readily identify as “cyberbullying,” as well as teens who have never struggled with social media, and all of those in between. Read full post »

Permanent Body Art

Guest Post by Dr. Laura Burkhart

“Mom, Dad can I get a tattoo?”

It’s the question your teen may have already asked. Or maybe they haven’t yet, but your waiting for the day they will. In the past tattoos might have been seen as a rebellious sign of those looking for a counter culture marker to set themselves apart from mainstream society. However, the art of tattooing has over time begun to merge with the norm and it isn’t uncommon to see a spectrum of people show off their ink. However, just because permanent body art has become more common, it is not without risks. In this post I will go through the art of tattooing and scarification so you can start an open conversation with your teen. Read full post »

Teens with Developmental Delay are Teens Too

Guest Post by Dr. Emily Gallagher

At Seattle Children’s Hospital we have families coming from around  the Pacific Northwest for a wide array of illness, disorders, and needs. In the Craniofacial Center, children with disorders of the head and face receive ongoing care, often from birth through adolescence. These disorders are often related to birth defects or genetic syndromes. The Craniofacial Center houses a specific clinic for patients with a genetic disorder called “22q11.2-related disorder”. This is a common genetic syndrome caused by differences in the amount of DNA in this area, usually missing (deletion) or additional (duplication) genetic material. 22q is characterized by varied physical issues that may affect many different parts of the body (such as heart abnormalities, cleft palate, or speech disorders), as well as developmental delay.

In pediatrics, we often focus on the development of infants and young children with disability. However, as they age into the teen years, needs are sometimes missed. I asked a colleague for information on some of the needs she sees in her adolescent patients with developmental delay. Read full post »

Vitamin D and teen health

beachGuest Post by Dr. Raina Vachhani

What’s all the fuss about vitamin D?

The short answer is that our bodies are built to make vitamin D using sunlight, and for us folks living up north, that isn’t really happening during the winter.

Vitamin D is a nutrient that our bodies use to help us absorb the calcium we eat, which we need to help make strong bones. Without vitamin D, calcium levels can drop, causing long-term effects on the strength of bones. The teens and twenties are the most critical time to build strong, healthy bones in order to avoid having weak bones and a risk of bone fractures later in life.

There is a lot of exciting research going on to figure out what other roles vitamin D might play. Some scientists think that low vitamin D levels could be related to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, infections, and neurological diseases, though most of these links haven’t been proven yet. The reality is that most people have no symptoms to indicate to them (or their doctors) that their level of vitamin D is low. Read full post »

Should my teen daughter shave?

Guest Post: Dr. Laura Burkhart

How old should my daughter be before she starts shaving? It’s a question that many parents have, but hard to find answers too.

This can be a tough decision to make, but its good to have an open and honest conversation with your daughter. There really isn’t a specific age at which girls should start shaving. It is a personal decision dependent on your family’s cultural and personal beliefs. In our American society, girls can start going through puberty as young as 8 or 9. The normal increase in hormones causes the hair underarms and in the pubic region to grow longer and darker which can often lead to feeling self-conscious around peers. Read full post »

Home from college for the holidays

Guest Post: Laura Burkhart, MD

Boomerangs

Let’s walk through a common scenario of a college freshman coming home for break.

You are so excited that your teen is coming home for the long holiday weekend.  It has been several months since you dropped them off at college and you have a bursting schedule of exciting events and family get-togethers planned.  When your teen comes home, they head straight to their old room, dump off their laundry and then call old friends.  Before you know it they are heading out for the night without any consideration for the big dinner you planned.  You wonder, “do they even want to spend time with the family??!”

Chances are if you have a teen in college, you have experienced this.   College students are commonly referred to as “boomerangs”-coming in and out of the house, sometimes leaving no trace except dirty socks and dishes.  This can be very frustrating and confusing, but there a few things you can do to prepare for such transient homecomings.  So how can you make the most of the time your newly independent teen has at home? Read full post »

Transition After High School Post 4 – Clery Act

Guest Post by Laura Burkhart, MD

“Safety doesn’t happen by accident”

When talking with your teen about making the transition to college, we often focus on the positive, as it is definitely an amazing life changing event.  You want your teen to successfully adapt in making more responsible choices, while remaining safe and protected inside the walls of a college campus.  However, there is a very important topic that often gets missed in that crucial time before they start classes.  That is the subject of campus crimes and security.   I am not writing this to send you running to lock your teen in their room, ensuring their safety by never letting them out and feeding them through the door!   This post is meant to open the dialogue between you and your teen about personal safety.

College campuses were once thought of as “Ivory Towers”, protected from the dangerous individuals and violent acts of the rest of the world.  It is the hope that every student has an affirmative college experience, but we know from numerous stories and statistics that is not always the case. So how can you find out about the safety of the college campuses your teen is looking at? Its actually easier then you think, but that was not always the case. It is important to respect the history and personal tragedy that allows us to access this information so readily today. Read full post »

Transition after high school Post 3 – College Health Services

college studentGuest Post by Laura Burkhart, MD

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

In the part of this series, I will go into a little further into the details of visiting a campus and what you need to have ready from a health standpoint. If you and your teen are still finding yourself stuck on where to even start looking to apply, you can refer back to the previous post.

Now that you and your teen have decided on what campuses to visit (great job by the way, that can be the toughest part!), it is time to discuss what is often the most exciting part for your teen…the tour. A campus tour is a great way to become familiar with the institution, not only for the physical elements, but also for the health resources offered. It is important for your teen to have a support system on campus of caring professionals that can offer assistance if needed. Read full post »

Transition after high school Post 2 – University versus College

Guest Post: Laura Burkhart, MD

“There are two gifts we should give our children: one is roots and the other is wings.”

As summer winds to an end, one of the most exciting times for a teen is figuring out what they are going to do after high school graduation. The last year in high school can be filled with both anticipation and anxiety, and as a parent it can be a difficult task to help them navigate the momentous next steps along a path filled with opportunity. College might not be right for all, but if you and your teen think it might be a good fit, you should know about all the options out there. First of all, take a deep breath…you and your teen will get through this! Here are a few tips to help you get started and make the big unknown of the college universe a little clearer.

There are more options now then the traditional 4 year college, and each one can have unique differences to help everyone obtain an education no matter their life situation or learning style. Read full post »

Transition after high school Post 1 What are Our Options

A note from Dr. Evans: I often find myself discussing life plans with my patients. Some teens have no clue what to do after high school, others are set on going to medical school (eventually), some just want to work, and some think they may want to join the military. In this series, I’ve asked guest authors to talk a bit about some of the options available. This is not an all inclusive list at all and if readers have topics they’d like discussed, please add those ideas in the comments.

We’ll start with some general options in the first post, then go on to discuss more details about the different between university, college, and community college in the coming posts of this series.

Guest Author: Emily Winn – University of Washington School of Nursing

Transition after high school – What are our options? Read full post »