Author: Yolanda Evans, MD, MPH

Video games and teens: harmful or helpful?

computerkidThe question of whether video games lead to risky behaviors is one that has been asked by parents, educators, psychologists, and most of the other adults who are routinely around teens. Some video games portray acts of violence (such as stealing cars, driving recklessly, or killing ) while others put the teen in the role of a superhero (such a those based on comic book characters). Is there a difference in how a teen may act in their regular life, while not playing a game, if video games are a hobby? Read full post »

Teens and the use of human growth hormone

girls basketballIn our society we are constantly bombarded with images displaying a narrow view of what it means to be attractive, handsome, or beautiful. Adolescents are just as susceptible to feeling like they need to look a certain way as adults are. Unfortunately, this push to have a certain physique can lead to some pretty dangerous behaviors. Teens may skip meals, take diet pills, exercise excessively, vomit after eating, or take laxatives in order to lose weight or prevent weight gain. Another dangerous trend is increasing: the use human growth hormone in an effort to build muscle. Read full post »

What is a LARC?

IUDWith nearly half of teens initiating sexual activity by the time they graduate from high school, discussing pregnancy prevention is extremely important. Abstinence is the only way to 100% guarantee that a person will not become pregnant or obtain a sexually transmitted infection, but if a teen does become sexually active, health care providers can counsel them on the options that are most effective at preventing unwanted consequences. In this post we’ll focus on pregnancy prevention.

This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics provided a policy statement recommending long acting reversible contraception (LARCs) for adolescent females. LARCs come in two forms: an implantable rod that contains a hormone and is placed in the arm or an intrauterine device (IUD). There are 3 different IUDs available for teens. One contains copper and lasts for 10 years, 2 others contain a hormone and last from 3 to 5 years. We’ve posted about LARCs before and have described their safety and benefits, but a recent study was published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine that showcased amazing results when teens were provided with accurate information about LARCs and chose them as a form of birth control. Read full post »

Teens and stress: signs, symptoms, and relaxation techniques

angryteenIt’s the Fall and families are starting to get back into the routine of balancing school, work, extracurricular activities, and family time. When I think back to my own high school years, I’m amazed at the amount of tasks I had to juggle! Everything from household chores, to homework; I was a musician so had practices and performances in addition to a part time job. While most teens are not under the stress of supporting a household, their daily agendas can be just as jam packed as an adult’s. The difference is that teens are still developing their coping strategies for how to manage stress. Read full post »

Pedestrian Safety

FriendshipAs the summer comes to an end, kids are going to be heading back to school. This means all of the drivers near school zones will see an increase in pedestrian traffic in the mornings and afternoons. As drivers, we’re reminded to slow down by signs in the school zone that mark the speed limit at 20 mph, but pedestrians may not always be aware of how to stay safe with the morning rush hour traffic. In this post, we received tips and advice on pedestrian safety from Dr. Alex Quistberg with the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center. Read full post »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »