Your Teen

Epidemic: Teenage Smokers

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Anybody who is over the age of 3 knows that smoking is bad for you.  It’s not only a smelly and offensive habit (ever have to inhale what others exhale in your face?), but is the cause of many serious health problems. You would think that over a couple of decades everyone would get the message, but according to a new report issued by the U.S. Surgeon General’s office, too many teens still seem to think that smoking is no big deal.

The U.S. Surgeon General has released the first report on youth smoking since 1994 and it shows that although smoking is down from previous decades, almost one in five high school students smoke. Because few high school smokers are able to quit, some 80 percent will continue to smoke as adults, according to the report released on Thursday.

Whether they can’t quit, or just don’t want to quit, is probably debatable. Adults have the same problem. It’s hard- but doable.

Nicotine is very addictive, and that’s one of the report’s main concerns.

"Today, more than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke. We don't want our children to start something now that they won't be able to change later in life," Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin said in the report, which details the scope, health consequences and influences that lead to youth tobacco use.

An estimated 3,800 kids pick up their first cigarette every day and 9 in 10 current smokers started before the age of 18. Some 99 percent of all first-time tobacco use happens by the age of 26, exposing young people to the long-term health effects of smoking, such as lung cancer and heart disease.

The report also noted that smoking kills more than 1,200 people every day and every tobacco related death is replaced by two new smokers under the age of 25.

Education, intervention and early treatment are recommended as ways to help prevent or decrease the adolescent smoking habit. "This report highlights the urgent need to employ proven methods nationwide that prevent young people from smoking and encourage all smokers to quit, including passage of smoke-free laws, increases in tobacco excise taxes and fully funded tobacco prevention programs," John Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said in a statement.

The report criticized tobacco companies targeting teens in their advertising. The report states that the industry spends more than $1 million an hour -- over $27 million per day -- in marketing and promoting tobacco products.  Appealing smoking messages, aimed at adolescents, are displayed in retail stores, online and through various media outlets such as movies and music videos.

"Targeted marketing encourages more young people to take up this deadly addiction every day," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. "This administration is committed to doing everything we can do to prevent our children from using tobacco."

Tobacco companies responded quickly and defended their practices. Altria Group, parent of companies Philip Morris USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco and John Middleton, said it markets to adults who use to tobacco through age-verified direct communications and in retail stores.

"The vast majority of our marketing expenditures come in the form of price promotions," the company said in a statement.

Altria said its tobacco companies worked to help enact the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, noting it was one of the few tobacco companies that did.

"We can and must continue to do more to accelerate the decline in youth tobacco use," Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at HHS said in a statement. "Until we end the tobacco epidemic, more young people will become addicted, more people will die and more families will be devastated by the suffering and loss of loved ones."

The report also recommended anti-smoking campaigns and increased restrictions under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's authority to regulate tobacco as other ways to prevent adolescents and young adults from using tobacco products.

Benjamin did not point fingers on why youth tobacco use continues in the U.S. Instead, she wants to see how the nation as a whole can best address the issue, she said.

"I don't want to focus on blame, I want to focus on prevention," she said. "I want to make sure we're doing everything that we can to prevent kids

More regulations and higher cigarette taxes may or may not help reduce teen smoking… that remains to be seen. But one anti-smoking effort that does have a positive effect on lessening teen smoking is growing up in a non-smoking home. Family discussions and good parenting examples leave a lasting impression on little ones who eventually become teens. Raising a child who feels secure in their environment helps them stand up to peer-pressure -which is really one of the main reasons kids start smoking.

When the teen years start producing an interest in the opposite sex, it doesn’t hurt to remind your teen that kissing a smoker is like licking an ashtray. That leaves a lasting impression.

Source: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/46669027/ns/today-today_health/t/teen-smok...

Your Teen

More Teens Texting While Driving

New study more teens are texting while driving.

One third of teens ages 16 and 17 say they have texted while driving a new study shows. That same study also shows that 48 percent of teens aged 12 to 17 say they have been in a car while the driver was texting.The study was conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Pew senior research specialist Amanda Lenhart said she was surprised "to hear (from teens) about how it’s often parents or other adults who are doing the texting or talking and driving, and how for many teens, this is scary or worrisome behavior." For its Teens and Distracted Driving study, Pew surveyed 800 teens ages 12 to 17 between June and September. The non-partisan organization also conducted nine focus groups with 74 additional teens in the cities of Ann Arbor, Mich., Denver, Atlanta and New York between June and October, in conjunction with the University of Michigan. "Much of the public discussion around these behaviors has focused on teens as young, inexperienced drivers, but some of the adults in these young peoples' lives are clearly not setting the best example either," said Mary Madden, a Pew senior research specialist who also worked on the survey. "Teens spoke not only of adults texting at the wheel, but also fumbling with GPS devices and being distracted because they're talking on the phone constantly," she said. "And the reactions from the teens we spoke with ranged from being really scared by these behaviors to feeling as though it wasn't a big deal." Among other findings from the Pew survey:
  • 52 percent of teens ages 16 and 17 who have cell phones say they have talked on their phones while driving.
  • 34 percent of teens ages 16 and 17 who text say they have done so while driving.
  • 48 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 say they have been in a car when the driver was texting.
  • 40 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 say they have been in a car when the driver "used a cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger."
  • 75 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 have a cell phone, and 66 percent of them send or receive text messages.
Boys and girls are "equally likely to report texting behind the wheel," Pew said, and while a third say they do so, "texting at the wheel is less common than having a conversation on the phone while driving." Pew did not further ask whether that driving and talking on the phone was being done hands-free. The teens in the focus groups had various reasons for texting and driving at the same time, Pew said, including "the need to report their whereabouts to friends and parents, getting directions and flirting with significant others." Some teens "felt as though they could safely manage a quick exchange of texts while the car was stopped. One high-school-aged boy shared that he would text 'only at a stop sign or light, but if it's a call, they have to wait or I'll hand it to my brother or whoever is next to me.' "

 

Your Teen

Are Kids Safe With Cell Phones at Crosswalks?

Before you buy that cell phone for your child to keep them safe when they are away from you, parents need to be aware.

Before you buy that cell phone for your child to keep them safe when they are away from you, parents need to be aware. A new study shows that kids who talk on a cell phone may be more likely to step into traffic. The study says children should learn to end phone conversations before they step up to the curb and prepare to step into traffic. Research done at the University of Alabama at Birmingham also shows that older children and more experienced users also don't navigate streets as well while on a cell phone and younger children tended to find gadgets more distracting.

"Kids this age are just learning to cross the street on their own," says David Schwebel, an associate professor and vice chair in the department of psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. A third of the 20 million 8- to 12-year-olds in the United States already have a cell phone, with more than half of "tweens" expected to be carrying them by the end of next year, according to market researchers. In the study, which appears in the February 2009 issue of Pediatrics, researchers followed 77 pre-teens individually as they navigated a virtual reality street crossing. The children were first allowed to familiarize themselves with the street scene before actually starting the test. The children were then asked to run through the simulation 12 times, six while on the phone and six while undistracted. The researchers found that children speaking on a cell phone were 43 percent more likely to be hit or to have a close call in the simulated street crossings than kids who weren't on the phone. Researchers also kept track of how many times a child looked left and right before stepping into the street and found that number fell by 20 percent when a phone conversation was going on. There was no difference between boys or girls. "I don't think this means parents should taken phones away from their kids, " says Schwebel. "I encourage families to get cell phones for their children. They're more helpful than harmful, if they're used in a safe way."

Your Teen

Bullied Teen’s Suicidal Thoughts, Attempts Reduced By Exercise

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When children are bullied, they are more likely to fall into a deep depression and consider suicide as a way out of their torment than children who are not bullied. That’s not surprising considering the long-term effect being bullied can have on a child. Oftentimes, children who are depressed are prescribed medications to take, but a new study suggests that exercise may be the key to improving bullied children’s outlook and mental health.

"I was surprised that it was that significant and that positive effects of exercise extended to kids actually trying to harm themselves," said lead author Jeremy Sibold, associate professor and chair of the Department Rehabilitation and Movement Science. "Even if one kid is protected because we got them involved in an after-school activity or in a physical education program it's worth it."

Previous research has shown bullied children are at a greater risk for sadness, poor academic performance, low self-esteem, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse as well as depression.

The study used data from the CDC's National Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 13,583 high school students, researchers at the University of Vermont found that being physically active four or more days per week resulted in a 23 percent reduction in suicidal ideation and attempts in bullied students.

Nationwide nearly 20 percent of students reported being bullied on school property.

Thirty percent of the students in the study reported feeling sad for two or more weeks in the previous year while more than 22 percent reported suicidal ideation and 8.2 percent reported actual suicidal attempts during the same time period. Bullied students were twice as likely to report sadness, and three times as likely to report suicidal thoughts or attempts when compared to peers who were not bullied.

Researchers found that exercise, four or more days a week, had a positive influence on reducing suicidal thoughts and attempts by 23 percent.

Sibold’s study comes at a time when 44 percent of the nation’s school administrators have cut large amounts of time from physical education, recess and arts’ programs to focus more on reading and mathematics since the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001, according to a report by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

"It's scary and frustrating that exercise isn't more ubiquitous and that we don't encourage it more in schools," says Sibold. "Instead, some kids are put on medication and told 'good luck.' If exercise reduces sadness, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts, then why in the world are we cutting physical education programs and making it harder for students to make athletic teams at such a critical age?"

Sibold and the study’s co-authors say they hope their report increases the consideration of exercise programs as part of the public health approach to reduce suicidal behavior in all adolescents.

"Considering the often catastrophic and long lasting consequences of bullying in school-aged children, novel, accessible interventions for victims of such conduct are sorely needed," they conclude.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150921095433.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Teen

Teen’s Social Media Posts May Damage College Chances

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Teens and social media post are practically synonymous these days. Kids have grown up tweeting, texting and posting pictures without giving it too much thought. It’s just what they do. But now, it’s getting time to think about college or a first job and all that personal information may come back to haunt them.

Colleges are increasingly searching applicant’s names on the Internet.  Most college applications are submitted online, so an administrator only has to open a new tab to learn more about a hopeful candidate’s public profile. Background checks are easily available as well. 

The percentages of college admissions officers who say they have Googled an applicant (29%) or visited an applicant’s Facebook or other social networking page to learn more about them (31%) have risen to their highest levels yet, according to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2013 survey of college admissions officers*. When Kaplan first began tracking this issue in 2008, barely 10% of admissions officers reported checking an applicant’s Facebook page. Last year, 27% had used Google and 26% had visited Facebook — up from 20% and 24%, respectively, in 2011.

“As social media has skyrocketed from being the domain of a younger generation to societal ubiquity, the perceived taboo of admissions officers checking applicants online has diminished,” said Seppy Basili, Vice President, Kaplan Test Prep.  “Granted, most admissions officers are not tapping into Google or Facebook, and certainly not as a matter of course. But there’s definitely greater acknowledgment and acceptance of this practice now than there was five years ago.”

Nobody really knows how much importance colleges place on what they find online about a prospective student.

Mark Sklarow, CEO of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, a national organization of private college admissions advisers, tells teens to review their postings and profiles with a critical eye. For example, Sklarow would ask student: “Do comments make you sound like a misogynist? A bully? Do hundreds and hundreds of ‘selfies’ convey narcissism?”

Parents need to be connected with their kids on social media sites so they can know what their child is posting. You can do your own investigation by Googling your child to see what kinds of information is readily available such as pictures, threads and what they like on Facebook and other social media sights. 

Many children have already been told that whatever they post is on the web forever, whether they delete it or not.

The Kaplan Test Prep survey also revealed that 50 percent of high school respondents said they were “not at all concerned” about online searches hurting their chances of admission. While optimism is a wonderful trait, teens and adults may view online posts differently. What may seem like common language and behavior between teens may not translate the same to adults. Parents can help teens understand what is acceptable and what might be considered inappropriate to someone considering a college or job application.

Online posts can also work in a teen’s favor. Many young people volunteer, take an interest in the environment, support worthwhile charities, take extra classes or work part time.  These are all activities that can leave a positive impression and help a student stand out.

Parents can help their teen prepare for college in many different ways. Talking to your child about their online profile is a good start.  There’s no guarantee that the college of their choice will be checking them out online, but if it does make sure they will have nothing to be concerned about.

 Sources: Jacoba Urist, http://www.today.com/moms/application-angst-teens-social-media-could-hurt-college-chances-2D11641782

http://press.kaptest.com/press-releases/kaplan-test-prep-survey-more-college-admissions-officers-checking-applicants-digital-trails-but-most-students-unconcerned

Your Teen

Websites May Encourage Self-Injury

1.45 to read

The videos may be a focus for communities of youth in which self-injury is encouraged and viewed as normal and exciting, which could potentially increase the risk for self-injury.Some at-risk teens are finding new ways to hurt themselves thanks to a popular website with videos that glorify self-injury.

Young adults and teens may believe that hurting themselves is normal and acceptable after watching videos and other media on Web-sharing sites like YouTube, new research indicates. The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, warn professionals and parents to be aware of the availability and dangers of such material for at-risk teens and young adults. Deliberate self-injury without the intent of committing suicide is called “non-suicidal self-injury” or NSSI. An estimated 14% to 24% of youth and young adults engage in this destructive behavior, according to the study. NSSI can also include relationship challenges, mental health symptoms, and risk for suicide and death, the study noted. Common forms of self-injury include cutting, burning, picking and embedding objects to cause pain or harm. While other studies have looked at the availability of online information about self-injury, the authors focused on the scope of self-injury in videos uploaded on YouTube and watched by youth. They described their work as the first such study and noted that their findings could be relevant in risk, prevention and managing self-injury. The authors focused on YouTube because, according to the site, since its inception in 2005 “YouTube is the world's most popular online video community, allowing millions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos.” Using the site’s search function the researchers looked for the terms “self-harm” and “self-injury,” identifying the site’s top 50 viewed videos containing a live person, and the top 50 viewed videos with words and photos or visual elements. The top 100 items that the study focused on were viewed over 2 million times, according to the analysis, and most – 80% - were available to a general audience. The analysis of the self-injury content found that 53% was delivered in a factual or educational tone, while 51% was delivered in a melancholic tone. Pictures and videos commonly showed explicit demonstrations of the self-harming behavior. Cutting was the most common type of behavior; more than half of the videos did not contain warnings about the graphic nature of the behavior. The average age of uploaders of the self-injury material was 25.39 years, according to the findings, and 95% were female. The authors surmise that the actual average age is probably younger because many YouTube users say they are older in order to access more content. The study concludes that the findings about the volume and nature of self-injury content on YouTube show "an alarming new trend among youth and young adults and a significant issue for researchers and mental health workers." The videos may be a focus for communities of youth in which self-injury is encouraged and viewed as normal and exciting, which could potentially increase the  risk for self-injury. The study warns that health professionals need to be aware of this type and source of content, and to inquire about it when working with youth who practice self-injury because sites like YouTube can reach youth who may not openly discuss their  behavior. Self-harming is not typical behavior for otherwise untroubled teens and young adults, explained Dr. Charles Raison, an Emory University psychiatrist and CNNHealth.com's mental health expert. It’s an action that kids with psychiatric problems may try. “NSSI is a young person’s affliction…one in ten will kill themselves," he said.   "A lot of people will outgrow the behavior.” Raison said that it’s common for troubled young people to share information about hurting themselves. Treatments can include antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs and psychotherapy.

Your Teen

Many Teens Wired, Caffeinated Well Past Bedtime

A new study shows that things like texting, surfing and gaming, combined with caffeine is affecting their alertness and ability to function during the day.We all know that teens like to text, surf and game for hours, but now a new study shows that things like texting, surfing and gaming, combined with caffeine is affecting their alertness and ability to function during the day. Researchers at Drexel University in Philadelphia found that the more multitasking a teen did, the more likely they were to be dozing off during the day and the kids who nodded off were also the heaviest caffeine consumers.

"They're up at night and they're doing a lot less homework than we thought and a lot more multitasking," said lead researchers Dr. Christina J. Calamaro. Calamaro and her team noted in their report that experts believe teenagers need at least nine hours of sleep every night but the average sleep time for American adolescents is seven hours. The researchers investigated whether teens' use of technology and caffeinated beverages might affect how much sleep they got at night and how tired they felt during the day by surveying 100 12- to 18-year olds. To gauge how heavily the study participants used technology at night, Calamaro and her colleagues developed a measure they dubbed the "multitasking index": the total number of hours a child spent doing each of nine different activities (watching TV, listening to MP3s, doing homework, and watching DVDs or videos, etc) divided by 9, which is the number of hours from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Kids' average multitasking index was about 6, meaning they were engaged in the equivalent of one of the nine activities for 5.3 hours or four activities for an average 80 minutes each. Just one in five of the study participants said they got 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night, and these teens had an average multitasking index of 0.39. One third of the study participants said they fell asleep in school and these teens dozed off an average of twice a day, although some said they fell asleep as many as eight times a day. The higher a child's multitasking index, the more likely they were to fall asleep in school. The teens' average caffeine consumption was 215mg daily, or the equivalent of a couple of espressos. Nearly three-quarters of the study participants were drinking more than 100mg of caffeine a day, and there were few with very heavy consumption, the researchers found. The researcher said that while the current study was small, she expects the findings accurately reflect teen behavior. "I won't be surprised if and when we replicate this that we'll get similar results, because this is what adolescents are doing." Parents need to take steps to keep their children's nighttime technology use under control, Calamaro said. It's crucial to keep TVs, computers and especially cell phones out of kids' bedrooms, she said. "The texting is a huge issue. I think we'll find it to be a greater issue."

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Your Teen

Tanning Beds & Teens

Many teens want that sun-kissed glow before the prom, but it comes at a price. Tanning beds are far worse than the sun...Many teens want that sun-kissed glow before the prom, but it comes at a price. Tanning beds are far worse than the sun at causing skin cancer. Dermatologists say the major wavelength found in a tanning salon is the most carcinogenic (cancer-causing) wavelength in the ultraviolet spectrum. Indoor tanning will dramatically increase a child’s odds of getting melanoma, the worst type of skin cancer.

A growing number of states are now requiring teens to get their parent’s permission before they can switch on the tanning bed. Advice to parents? Many experts recommend keeping your children away from the tanning salons and don’t give in because “it’s a special occasion like the prom.” The American Cancer Society recommends applying sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going outdoors and re-apply every 2 hours. The American Cancer Society also recommends performing a skin check on your children to make sure birthmarks, moles or blemishes have not changed in appearance. Check with your pediatrician if you have any questions.

Your Teen

What Really Improves a Child’s Math Skills?

2.00 to read

Ask people to raise their hand if they like math and you most likely won’t see a lot of hands in the air. When asked why math isn’t particularly popular, many will answer that they just never have been very good at it. A new study suggests that for kids who are not mathematically inclined, studying harder and being strongly motivated to improve can be the key to making better grades.

While genetics may play a role in math comprehension, motivation and study habits can play a more important role during the all important high school years according to the study.  “It’s not how smart we are; it’s how motivated we are and how effectively we study that determines growth in math achievement over time,” says Kou Murayama, a post-doctoral psychology researcher at University of California  Los Angeles and lead author of the study published in the journal Child Development.

Murayama and his colleagues studied math achievement among roughly 3,500 public school students living in the German state of Bavariain. Students were followed from 5th grade through 10th grade and were given annual standard math tests in each grade. They were also given IQ tests and questioned about their attitude towards mathematics.

Researchers wanted to know if the kids believed that better math skills were achievable through hard work and if they were interested in math for its own sake. They also wanted to know if their approach to math included incorporating mathematical concepts into their every day life, or if they relied more on memorization to pass tests.

The psychologists said they were surprised that a higher IQ did not predict “new” learning ability. Intelligence measured by the IQ test did not indicate how likely students were to understand new concepts or to add new skills. Children with high IQs did have higher test scores but how much new material the kids learned throughout the years the study was conducted, was not related to how high their IQ registered.

“Students with high IQ have high math achievement and students with low IQ have low math achievement,” Murayama says. “But IQ does not predict any growth in math achievement. It determines the starting point.

The greatest number of children who showed improvement in math skills during the study were the ones who agreed or strongly agreed with statements such as, “When doing math, the harder I try, the better I perform,” or “I invest a lot of effort in math, because I am interested in the subject.” These included students who were not high achievers when they started. And at the other end of the spectrum, kids who were motivated purely by the desire to get good grades saw no greater improvement over the average.

Kids who said they tried incorporating connections between mathematical ideas typically improved faster than those who used memorization techniques.

While not entirely surprising — it makes sense that more motivated students would do better and that those who put in more effort to learn would see better results — the findings provide reassuring confirmation that academic success is not governed by a student’s cognitive abilities alone. Instead, students who want to learn math and who work at it may find they make faster gains and learn better than students who are bright but less motivated. That’s encouraging not just for students, but for schools as well, says Murayama.

How well the German school results apply to other nations is not known. Murayama is intrigued enough to investigate different instructional styles that teachers and parents may use to inspire kids to learn. While certain intelligence traits seem to be based in genetics and therefore hard to change, previous research suggests that motivation is not innate, but largely learned. Even, it seems, when it comes to math.

Source: http://healthland.time.com/2012/12/26/motivation-not-iq-matters-most-for-learning-new-math-skills/#ixzz2GJ0rEdaP

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