Teenology 101

Processing recent tragedies and violence

Guest Post: Dr. Raina Vachhani Voss

My colleagues and I recently had a conversation about how we, as providers, can have an impact and a voice when responding shootings in schools, bars, churches – places that we think of as being safe. When we meet with teens in the clinic, amidst conversations about relationships, emotions, and other health concerns, we do our best to check in with our patients about this topic. How they have been feeling about what they see on the news? How has it affected their mood? Do they feel safe in their community? Read full post »

Eating Well over summer break

Family mealWith the high rates of obesity in our country, families nationwide are trying to find ways to promote healthy and balanced eating. One common conundrum is that finances are often tight and buying fresh produce that only lasts a few days before wilting, shopping at the farmer’s market, or buying organic food just may not be feasible. Incorporating exercise into a busy day is also challenging. A research study last year that showed kids (regardless of household income) on summer break may not be making the best choices around food, so for parents, discussing healthy balanced eating year round with children and teens is important. Read full post »

Should my teen have a cell phone

person textingWith the majority of the adult US population having smartphones, it’s nearly inevitable that tweens and young teens (kids ages 10-13) will ask parents for a cell phone too. My oldest is 4 and she routinely asks to watch the tablet or look at videos on my phone. Whether or not your family provides a cell phone to your tween is a completely personal decision and you may be considering one for many reasons (safety, the ability to know where your teen is, etc). Here are some of the things to consider (that you’re likely already thinking!): Read full post »

Should My Son Get the HPV Vaccine

Guest post by: Rachel Moore, UW School of Nursing

Many parents are wondering why their sons need to get a vaccine that they’ve heard was developed to prevent cervical cancer when their sons don’t have a cervix! Parents may feel confused or frustrated when a health care provider tells them that their son needs the three shot series starting when they are 11 or 12 because they are sure that their child is not sexually active and that’s how you get HPV right? There are a couple misunderstandings that need to be cleared up. Read full post »

Teens and helmets

Guest post by: Jane Rall, UW School of Nursing

For many, bicycles remind us of warm summer days cruising through the neighborhood to a friend’s or down the street for a cold treat! As tempting as it might be to hop on your bike and fly down the sunny street, feeling the wind in your hair, one bad decision could ruin a summer and potentially a lot more. Growing up, I remember wanting to ride my bike a few blocks to a friend’s and being frustrated with my parents for making me wear my big, unflattering and not to mention uncomfortable bike helmet. My parent’s made it very clear that wearing a helmet was not optional. Like most children my age, I eventually gave in. Read full post »

FDA regulation on E-cigarettes

e-cigaretteThe Food and Drug Administration recently announced new regulations on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), such as vape pens and electronic cigarettes. Anyone who wants to purchase one of these devices must be at least 18 years of age and be able to show valid identification at the time of purchase. Under the regulation, ENDS can’t be given out for free or sold in vending machines accessible to minors.

What are some of the reasons why the FDA moved forward with starting to regulate electronic nicotine delivery? Isn’t tobacco use among teens going down? Read full post »

Bullying and the Role of the Bystander

girl bullyingGuest post by: Kaity Skelley, UW School of Nursing

We all have memories of our childhood, some good some bad, some for better others for worse.  Whether you were a victim, bully, or bystander, bullying has impacted us all.  For me, I was in elementary school and there was a girl I distinctly remember people picking on.  Kids would call her names, make fun of her hair, or shoes, or whatever irrelevant detail it was for that particular day.  I don’t remember ever personally picking on her, but I know for a fact I never said or did anything to defend her.  I was a silent bystander.  When I was in 7th grade I learned she had taken her own life. I have always wondered if someone had stood up and not been the silent bystander if it would have changed her path.

According to research about 22% of high school students (one out of every four students) report being bullied during the school year.  Bullying is a multifaceted problem with three main players: 1) the bully, 2) the victim, and 3) the bystander.  The bystander is the person who sees the situation unfold and makes a choice to either contribute to the bullying behavior, quietly watch, or actively step in and stand up for the victim.  Research has shown that about 57% of bullying incidents stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the student being bullied and has a stronger impact compared to adult/educator intervention. Read full post »

Consenting to intimacy

young loveThe recent trial of a Stanford undergrad has stirred up conversations about justice, consenting to sex, alcohol consumption, and unequal treatment in judicial proceedings this week. These are not light topics, but each of the issues discussed has implications for anyone raising a teen. The woman who was the victim of the sexual assault wrote an extremely powerful statement that was shared on social media. I read her statement and it has impacted me. The way I plan to approach these topics in clinical encounters as well as in my personal life (as a mom, aunt, and friend) has shifted from one of focusing on the individual to one of considering our cultural norms regarding sexual consent and women, not as fellow human beings but as sexual objects. Read full post »

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 »

Body Piercing

ear piercingGuest Post: by Dr. Laura Burkhart

When I was 16 years old I wanted to get my nose pierced. After the surprised initial reaction from my dad of “why would you ever want to voluntarily put a hole in your body?!”, we had a really respectful and honest conversation. What I remember the most was that he was open to my point of view, even though the idea of a body piercing wasn’t his favorite. Kind of like when I’d begged for a puppy; part of the deal was that I had to take complete care and responsibility for it. While I had other piercings after this, my memory of this piercing is a positive one. It was one of the first thought out “adult” conversations I had with my dad about something we didn’t agree on, because of his willingness to hear me out. This memory could have easily been one of teen rebellion and anger had I been simply told “No because I said so”. I share this story so hopefully inspire the kind of open conversation I had with my dad if your teen asks about body piercing. Read full post »