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Your Teen

Alcohol-Branded Clothing & Accessories Linked to Youth Alcohol Use

2:00

The T-shirts, handbags, backpacks, hats, jackets and sunglasses we wear and carry all say a little something about who we think we are or would like to be. Clothing with slogans and photos, accessories with name –brands or specific designs help express, at least a small way, how we connect with others and want others to connect with us.

From politics to religion to music and movies – we’re not likely to wear something that we philosophically disagree with. That’s pretty much true in all age groups.

So, what does it mean when teens proudly wear clothing and carry products with alcohol-brands up front and center?

According to a large review of different studies on the topic, teens that own caps, shirts, and other merchandise displaying alcohol logos are more likely to drink.

Australian researchers reviewed results from 13 studies looking at alcohol-branded merchandise and teen alcohol use. The research included more than 26,000 kids and teens, mostly from the United States.

Four studies looked specifically at young people who hadn't started drinking alcohol. Those who owned alcohol-branded merchandise were more likely to start drinking a year later, the researchers said.

While the study doesn’t prove causation (teens will drink if they own alcohol-branded items), it does show an association between the two activities.

"It is possible that owning the merchandise makes young people more likely to drink, or that young people who drink are more likely to want to own the merchandise, or a combination of these effects," explained study leader Sandra Jones. She's director of the Centre for Health and Social Research at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne.

Dr. Victor Strasburger, lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Children, Adolescents, and Advertising policy statement, said, "The studies showed that this ownership contributes to onset of drinking, not the amount of drinking.”

“But we know that when teenagers begin drinking, they tend to binge drink, not use good judgment, and drive when drunk or intoxicated," he added.

Because of the study’s findings, Jones believes that promotional alcohol-branded products encourage drinking among adolescents.

"As they transition through adolescence, young people are developing their sense of identity," she said.

"The things that they wear, carry, and consume help to create and convey their desired identity. There is increasing evidence that brands facilitate this by allowing the young person to take on and project the desirable characteristics that are associated with that brand. These characteristics and brands then become a part of their sense of self, as well as the way that others see them," Jones said.

In addition to hats, caps and T-shirts, other examples of alcohol-related products include accessories, such as bags, backpacks, belts, lighters, sunglasses, wallets and key rings. Other promotional items include drinking glasses, utensils, cooler bags, bottle openers and coffee cups, the researchers said.

Depending on the study, ownership of such items ranged from 11 percent to 59 percent of the young participants. Ownership was higher among older children and males, the researchers said.

Most of the studies didn't find any gender differences. But two studies did find that the association between branded merchandise and drinking issues was actually stronger for girls.

Jones noted that company policies and regulations could help prevent the availability of such products for teens. She recommended restricting the sale of alcohol promotional products where the sale of alcohol is allowed, that alcohol-branded clothing not be made in children’s sizes and toys and gimmicks that appeal to children be discontinued.

Jones also noted that it’s not only up to businesses and government to regulate the availability of these products to kids, but parents as well.

"Many of these items are given away for free at promotional events or as gifts with purchase, and parents may hand them on to their children -- or allow others to do so -- without processing the fact that they are providing their child with extended exposure to an advertisement for an alcohol brand," she said.

Strasburger said the media are often irresponsible when it comes to alcohol. "They depict alcohol use as normative behavior, or a solution for complex problems, or show being drunk as funny," he said. "We spend something like $5 million on alcohol advertising every year, then we wonder why so many teenagers drink. It's not rocket science."

The findings were publised online in the April 1st edition of the journal Pediatrics. 

Story source: Don Rauf, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/kids-and-alcohol-health-news-11/booze-branded-merchandise-may-spur-teen-drinking-709478.html

 

 

 

Your Teen

Should Parents Give Their Teen Alcohol?

2:00

Some parents might argue that they are being responsible caregivers when they supply their teen alcohol. The thinking is that no matter what roadblocks you present, teens are going to drink - therefore, if parents allow them to drink at home they remove some of the alcohol - related risks.

It’s not as uncommon as you might think. In many countries, parents provide alcohol to their underage kids as a way to introduce them to drinking carefully, and believe it will protect them from the harms of heavy drinking.

A groundbreaking new study from Australia says that’s just not true. Providing alcohol to your teen actually does more harm than good. In fact, young people who got alcohol from their parents were more likely to also get it from elsewhere, researchers found.

"Our study is the first to analyze parental supply of alcohol and its effects in detail in the long term, and finds that it is, in fact, associated with risks when compared to teenagers not given alcohol," said lead author Richard Mattick. He is a professor of drug and alcohol studies at the University of New South Wales.

The study finding "reinforces the fact that alcohol consumption leads to harm, no matter how it is supplied," he added.

Mattick’s team followed more than 1,900 Australian teens, aged 12 to 18 years of age, over a six-year time span.

By the end of the study, 81 percent of teens that got alcohol from both their parents and other people reported binge drinking (defined as having more than four drinks on a single occasion). That compared to 62 percent of teens who got alcohol only from other people, and 25 percent of those who got alcohol only from their parents.

In addition, the researchers found that teens whose parents supplied them with alcohol in one year were twice as likely to also get it elsewhere the next year.

The findings show that parents don't help teens deal with alcohol responsibility by providing it to them, and doing so does not reduce the risk that they will get it elsewhere, the researchers concluded.

Not surprisingly, alcohol is the top risk factor for death and disability among 15- to 24-year-olds worldwide, according to background information in a journal news release. In addition, the teen years are also the time when drinking problems are most likely to develop.

"Parents, policy makers, and clinicians need to be made aware that parental provision of alcohol is associated with risk, not with protection, to reduce the extent of parental supply in high-income countries, and in low-middle-income countries that are increasingly embracing the consumption of alcohol," Mattick mentioned in the news release.

Another approach might be for parents to talk to their teen about the dangers of alcohol consumption and encourage them to stand up against peer pressure to start drinking.

The report was published in the January issue of The Lancet Public Health.

Story source: Robert Preidt, https://www.webmd.com/children/news/20180125/parents-giving-kids-alcohol-not-cool#1

 

Your Teen

Civic Activities Help Make Teens & Young Adults Successful

2:30

Teens and young adults who engage in civic activities, such as volunteering, activism and voting, are more likely than non-engaged peers to attain higher incomes and education levels as adults, according to a new study.

“We know from past research that taking part in civic activities can help people feel more connected to others and help build stronger communities, but we wanted to know if civic engagement in adolescence could enhance people’s health, education level and income as they become adults,” said Parissa J. Ballard, Ph.D., assistant professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest Baptist and principal investigator of the study.

Ballard and her team used a nationally representative sample of 9,471 adolescents and young adults from an ongoing study called the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health.

Students participating in the study were between 18 and 27 years of age when civic activities were measured. Six years later, outcomes like health, education and income were measured.

The research team used propensity score matching, a statistically rigorous methodology to examine how civic engagement related to later outcomes regardless of participants’ background characteristics, including levels of health and parental education. For example, adolescents who volunteered were matched to adolescents from similar backgrounds that did not volunteer to compare their health, education and income as adults.

Researchers found that the participants involved in volunteering and voting also showed fewer symptoms of depression and were at a lower risk for negative health behaviors including substance use.

For teens that were involved in activism the findings were more complex. Although they too had a much greater chance of obtaining a higher level of education and personal income, they also were involved in more risky behaviors six years later, Ballard said.

“In this study, we couldn’t determine why that was the case, but I think activism can be frustrating for teens and young adults because they are at a stage in life where they are more idealistic and impatient with the slow pace of social change,” Ballard said. “I would encourage parents to help their children remain passionate about their cause but also learn to manage expectations as to short- and long-term goals.”

Teens and young adults that are working to make a difference in their school and communities use a combination of skills, knowledge, values and motivation that can enrich their lives long into adulthood.

The study was published in the journal Child Development.

Story source: https://www.socialworkhelper.com/2018/01/25/civic-engagement-can-help-teens-thrive-later-life/

Your Teen

“Tide Pod Challenge, “ Another Dangerous Teen Stunt

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Just when you think that maybe teens and young adults have come to their senses about trying crazy stunts, a new viral “challenge” emerges and lets you know how wrong you are.

This one challenges primarily teens and young adults to pop a Tide Pod into their mouths and bite down, and then post videos of whatever happens. Some of these individuals experience foaming at the mouth and severe coughing spells after consuming a pod. It’s no surprise to most of us that this bizarre act can be dangerous but many might not suspect that it can also be potentially deadly.

These pods contain concentrated levels of detergent made to dissolve while washing clothes. Because they are designed to dissolve when wet, the same thing can occur in a person’s mouth - leading to the immediate release and absorption of the contents.

Tide Pods contain dangerous chemicals that, if ingested, can lead to life threatening breathing problems, damage to the esophagus from the corrosive ingredients, burns, blood pressure changes, gastrointestinal problems and neurological symptoms, including loss of consciousness. They can bring on a severe asthma attack in those that have asthma already.

The pods contain numerous chemicals that are potentially harmful if ingested. Chief among these concerns is a chemical known as 1,4 Dioxane.

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, exposure to this compound can cause eye and nose irritation, kidney problems and possible long-term lung damage. These effects are unlikely to occur if the product is used appropriately.

Through various social media forums, this stunt continues to grow in popularity. It might be wise to have a talk with your child about the very real dangers of ingesting a toxic product such as a detergent pod. While you might think your child would never do such a thing, many parents have found themselves in an ER with their child who thought it might be a fun thing to try. On their own, most kids wouldn’t even think to try something like this, but once a video challenge goes viral, kids are more likely to see it as funny – not dangerous.

Have that talk.

Story source: Sarang Koushik M.D., http://abcnews.go.com/Health/internet-craze-tide-pod-challenge-dangerous-potentially-deadly/story?id=52379523

Your Teen

Teens and Phone Use

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The results of a new study on teens and their cell phone use will not surprise anyone that has been around an adolescent in the last ten years or so. Parents know all too well that the two are typically not far apart.

A 2015 study by the Pew Research Center found that 88 percent of teenagers, ages 13 to 17, have or have access to a cellphone, and 91 percent of teens go online from a mobile device at least occasionally.

"I have not worked with any parents who do not allow their teens to have access to a phone," said Denise Berotti Tuckruskye, a clinical psychologist at the Developmental Disabilities Institute in Ronkonkoma, N.Y. "It seems all parents appreciate that phones allow teens to contact them easily if there are any problems." 

Having the ability to contact their parents if something goes wrong is probably the top reason parents allow their child to have a cell phone in the first place. However, with that purchase you may also notice the loss of your child’s attention and desire to hang out with the family.

Kids aren’t usually using the phone to actually talk to each other; they are more likely to be texting, reading and posting on social media sites. That’s where phone use can get tricky and addictive. Texts and website posts can be positive or extremely negative – depending on someone’s mood or psychological makeup.

What can parents do if they are concerned about the amount of time their teen is spending on his or her phone? One thing is to not pretend that you don’t have a say in what your teen is allowed to post and the amount of information they can give out online as well as the amount of time they spend on the phone when they are home.

Experts suggest that parents stress the use of smartphones and social media in moderation. Beyond that, there are tactics parents can use to moderate their teens' phone use without cutting them off from the digital world entirely.

For instance, "some families I work with restrict phone use until their child's homework is done," Tuckruskye said.

Another option is so-called "interval training," suggested Sandra Bond Chapman, a cognitive neuroscientist who directs the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas in Dallas. 

For this, teens would spend 30 minutes doing homework without any disruption and then 30 minutes where they're allowed to check their phones.

This is not easy. Teens naturally go through a stage where independence and rules can quickly become a battleground.  It takes patience and the right approach (sometimes many different approaches) to help them understand why constant cell phone use can be a problem.

Cell phone and computer use before bed has been shown to cause sleep difficulties in children as well as adults. Left to their own devices, young adults are likely to use their phone in bed and keep it close to them while sleeping, according to analysis of a National Sleep Foundation survey, published in 2013 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Research has shown that this can lead to sleep complications.

A study published in JAMA Pediatrics in December 2016 found "strong and consistent evidence of an association between the access to or the use of devices and reduced sleep quality, as well as daytime sleepiness."

Jenna Glover, director of psychology training for Children's Hospital Colorado, suggests that parents limit their teen’s use of cell phones- especially before bedtime.

"Teens should have specific times a day where they have access to their social media accounts, but also tech-free time at home," Glover said.

Others, however, contend that how much time teens spend on their phones is less important than the effect phones are having on the youths.

A recent study from the University of Michigan found that the way children use their devices was a stronger predictor of emotional or social problems tied to screen addiction. 

"What matters most is whether screen use causes problems in other areas of life or has become an all-consuming activity," said lead author Sarah Domoff in a university news release. She is now an assistant professor of psychology at Central Michigan University.

For instance, does screen time interfere with daily activities? Does it cause family conflicts? Has it become the only activity the teen seems to enjoy?

Those are just a few of the ways unhealthy use of phones and similar devices can lead to problems with relationships or conduct and with other emotional symptoms, Domoff said. 

The combination of time teens spend on the phone and the content being seen and produced is where parents can have an impact. One conversation isn’t going to convince a child that there may need to be some changes made in their phone use. It’s an ongoing dialogue that needs to happen with families in a positive, educational and helpful way. In some situations, professional counseling may be needed.

The study was published online in November 2017, in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture

Story source: Briana Panetta, https://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/teens-and-their-phones-what-you-should-know-728942.html

 

Your Teen

Teens: Does Non-Cigarette Tobacco Use Lead to Regular Cigarette Use?

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Researchers followed 10,000 nonsmokers ranging in age from 12 to 17 years old for one year to see how their use of other tobacco products influenced the odds that they would become smokers.

Results showed that teens who tried non-cigarette products such as e-cigarettes, hookah pipes and other non-cigarette tobacco products are more likely to take up cigarette smoking than their peers who never sample these products.

By the end of the study year, about 5 percent had tried a cigarette and roughly 2 percent, had smoked within the past month, the study found. 

Among the small proportion of teens who had tried e-cigarettes at the start of the study, however, 19 percent had become smokers a year later, as had about 18 percent of hookah users.

“Each type of non-cigarette tobacco product we studied - whether e-cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco - independently contributed to smoking risk,” said senior study author Dr. Benjamin Chaffee of the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry. 

“These products have different properties, but in terms of predicting future smoking among kids, the risk seems to be the same,” Chaffee said by email to Reuters Health.

Vaping - a term for using e-cigarettes and similar devices - was the most popular alternative to traditional cigarettes. About 4 percent of teens had vaped at the start of the study, followed by 3 percent who had smoked a hookah, or water pipe, researchers report in JAMA Pediatrics.

The non-cigarette alternatives examined in the study contain nicotine, an addictive and very difficult drug to quit. Many advocates for tobacco control fear that e-cigarettes will create a new generation of nicotine addicts who may eventually switch to conventional cigarettes.

Despite the large size of the study population, one limitation is the relatively small number of tobacco product users by year-end, particularly the 2 percent of youth who admitted sampling one or more of these items in the past month. This may have weakened some connections between cigarette smoking and other tobacco products, the authors note.

E-cigarettes and other non-cigarette products are – except for smokeless tobacco products -a relatively new phenomenon in tobacco and nicotine use. 

Researchers are beginning to focus on the health and social issues that may be associated with e-cigarettes and other non-cigarette alternatives use among teens, young adults and children. Many of the studies have found an association between these types of products and progressive use of regular cigarettes.

Health experts agree that parents should warn their children about the dangers of all types of tobacco products. Many include a notice to parents to also discuss the addictive nature of e-cigarettes and similar products with their kids.

Story source: Lisa Rapaport, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-teens-ecigs-smoking/use-of-non-cigarette-tobacco-products-tied-to-teen-smoking-idUSKBN1ET2DB

 

Your Teen

Serious Burns Caused By E-Cigarette Explosions

1:45

Many family members have e-cigarettes inside their homes, pockets and purses. As more adults try to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, the use of electronic smoking devices (e-cigarettes) is rapidly increasing.  Several recent studies show that not only are adults experimenting with e-cigarettes, but also teens and preteens are attracted to the candy-flavored gadgets through peer pressure, advertising and celebrity endorsements.

One aspect of e-cigarette use that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, until now, is that these devices can un-expectantly explode causing severe burns to the face and other areas of the body.

According to a research letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine, electronic-cigarette devices are randomly exploding, burning and injuring people near them when they detonate.

The University of Washington Regional Burn Center in Seattle has treated 22 people for burns and other injuries caused by exploding e-cigarettes since October 2015, lead author Elisha Brownson, M.D., a burn/critical care surgical fellow at the hospital, told HealthDay.

The lithium-ion batteries used in e-cigarettes, Brownson said, cause the explosions. These rechargeable batteries charge a heating coil that brings liquid nicotine and flavorings to the boiling point inside the device, creating an inhalable vapor. Batteries in some of the devices are overheating, causing a fire or an explosion, she said.

The first Seattle case Brownson treated was a man in his 20s using an e-cigarette while driving. The device exploded in his mouth, blowing out several front teeth. She said she has since treated a variety of burns and blast injuries caused by e-cigarettes, including patients with flame burns covering 10 to 15 percent of their total body surface.

"We see a lot of patients who have burns on their thigh and their hands. That's when the device has exploded in their pocket, and they're using their hands to get the device out and away from them," Brownson said. "There also have been a lot of injuries to the hands and face when people have had explosions as they've been using them. Patients tell us they had no idea this could happen. They've had little to no warning that the device is going to explode."

The flame-burn injuries have required extensive wound care and skin grafting, and exposure to the alkali chemicals released from the battery explosion has caused chemical skin burns requiring wound care.

Why do these devices explode? NBC News put the question to Venkat Viswanathan, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in March of 2016.

“The electrolyte inside the battery is basically the equivalent of gasoline, so when these batteries short out, there's a surge of heat that causes this flammable electrolyte to combust and explode."

Well-made lithium-ion cells have a very small risk of failure. But the cheaper cells "have a much greater chance of having a manufacturing defect," which increases the likelihood for failure, Viswanathan said.

The risk goes up if the cells are overcharged or charged too quickly. This can happen if the e-cig comes with a poorly designed charger or the user switches chargers. Well-made lithium-ion batters have fail-safe mechanisms to prevent these problems. Poorly made ones do not. Just because a charger plugs into that e-cig doesn't mean you should use it.

E-cigarettes remain largely unregulated. Until recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had made little headway in the regulation of e-cigarettes. However, the FDA has recently extended regulatory authority to cover all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, although the prospects for battery regulation remain unclear. While these explosions were previously thought to be isolated events, the injuries among our 15 patients add to growing evidence that e-cigarettes are a public safety concern that demands increased regulation as well as design changes to improve safety. In the meantime, both e-cigarette users and health care providers need to be aware of the risk of explosion associated with e-cigarettes, the paper’s researchers noted.

Story sources: http://www.physiciansbriefing.com/Article.asp?AID=715566

Herb Weisbaum, http://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/what-s-causing-some-e-cigarette-batteries-explode-n533516

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1608478

Your Teen

Is Technology Sabotaging Teen's Sleep?

2:30

For the first time in history, we have adolescents that have never known an age without cell phones, tablets and computers. These marvels of technology have been a part of their lives from birth and they spend an extraordinary amount of time engaged with them. 

All their texting, posting and web surfing is robbing teens of the much needed sleep they need to think and function clearly, according to a new study.

Experts say teenagers need at least nine hours of sleep a night to be engaged and productive during the day. Anything less can cause daytime sleepiness and interfere with school or daily activities.

How much sleep is today’s teen actually getting? Researchers analyzed a pair of long-term, national surveys of more than 360,000 eighth- through 12th-graders to find out.

One survey asked 8th-10th- and 12th-graders how often they got at least seven hours of sleep. The other asked high school students how long they slept on a typical school night.

In 2015, 4 out of 10 teens slept less than seven hours a night. That's up 58 percent since 1991 and 17 percent more than in 2009 when smartphone use started becoming more mainstream, the researchers said.

"Teens' sleep began to shorten just as the majority started using smartphones. It's a very suspicious pattern," said study leader Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University.

The more time students reported spending online, the less sleep they got, according to the recent study published in the journal Sleep Medicine.

Teens that were online more than five hours a day were 50 percent more likely to be sleep-deprived than classmates who limited their time online to about an hour.

Studies have shown that the light emitted by smartphones and tablets can interrupt the body’s natural sleep –wake cycle.  The bright light can make the brain think that it’s daylight and time to stop producing melatonin, a hormone that cues to the body to sleep. By disrupting melatonin production, smartphone light can disrupt your sleep cycle, almost like an artificially induced jet lag. That makes it harder to fall and stay asleep.

If smartphones, tablets and computers are one of the causes for teens’ sleep deprivation, experts agree that moderate use can help change that. Everyone -- young and old alike -- should limit use to two hours each day, the researchers advised in a San Diego State University news release.

It’s not only the light from smartphones that can disrupt your ability to fall asleep, but the content you’re reading. Social media has a way of pulling teens into a discourse or “following” marathon that can eat up those precious hours of rest.

The best solution for electronic sleep deprivation is to make sure your teen puts his or her phone away and shuts down the tablet or computer at least an hour before bedtime.

Story sources: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, https://teens.webmd.com/news/20171020/smartphones-screens-sabotaging-teens-sleep

Kevin Loria, Skye Gould, http://www.businessinsider.com/how-smartphone-light-affects-your-brain-and-body-2017-7

Your Teen

10 Reasons Teens Act The Way They Do

2:30

Anyone in the midst of raising a teen knows that the adolescent years can be some of the most difficult to get through and understand.

As a parent or guardian of a teenager that wants to be more independent, but also needs supervision and guidance, the times can be challenging indeed.

If that’s the position you find yourself in, you may be asking – what’s going on in that youngster’s brain? Actually, there’s a lot happening!

There are several scientific reasons an adolescent brain can be similar to a toddler’s: After infancy, the brain's most dramatic growth spurt occurs in adolescence. Here’s 10 things you may not know about your teen’s brain.

10. Critical period of development. Adolescence is generally considered to be the years between 11 and 19. It’s easy to see the outward changes that occur in boys and girls during this time, but inside, their brains are working on overdrive.

"The brain continues to change throughout life, but there are huge leaps in development during adolescence," said Sara Johnson, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Parents should understand that no matter how tall their son has sprouted or how grown-up their daughter dresses, "they are still in a developmental period that will affect the rest of their life," Johnson told LiveScience

9. The growing brain. Scientists used to believe the greatest leap in neuronal connections occurred in infancy, but brain imaging studies show that a second burst of neuronal sprouting happens right before puberty, peaking at about age 11 for girls and 12 for boys.

The adolescent's experiences shape this new grey matter, mostly following a "use it or lose it" strategy, Johnson said. The structural reorganization is thought to continue until the age of 25, and smaller changes continue throughout life.

8. New Thinking Skills. This increase in brain matter allows the teenager to become more interconnected and gain processing power, Johnson notes.

If given time and access to information, adolescents start to have the computational and decision-making skills of an adult. However, their decisions may be more emotional than objective because their brains rely more on the limbic system (the emotional seat of the brain) than the more rational prefrontal cortex.

"This duality of adolescent competence can be very confusing for parents," Johnson said, meaning that sometimes teens do things, like punching a wall or driving too fast, when, if asked, they clearly know better.

Sound familiar?

7.  Teen tantrums. While teens are acquiring amazing new skills during this time, they aren’t that good at using them yet, especially when it comes to social behavior and abstract thought.

That’s when parents can become the proverbial guinea pig. Many kids this age view conflict as a type of self-expression and may have trouble focusing on an abstract idea or understanding another's point of view.

Particularly in today’s heavy media influenced world, teens are dealing with a huge amount of social, emotional and cognitive flux says Sheryl Feinstein, author of Inside the Teenage Brain: Parenting a Work in Progress (Rowman and Littlefield, 2009.)

That’s when they need a more stable adult brain (parents) to help them stay calm and find the better path.

6. Intense emotions. Remember the limbic system mentioned earlier (the more emotional part of the brain)? It’s accelerated development, along with hormonal changes, may give rise to newly intense experiences of rage, fear, aggression (including towards oneself), excitement and sexual attraction.

Over the course of adolescence, the limbic system comes under greater control of the prefrontal cortex, the area just behind the forehead, which is associated with planning, impulse control and higher order thought.

As teens grow older, additional areas in the brain start to help it process emotions and gain equilibrium in decision-making and interpreting others. But until that time, teens can often misread parents and teachers Feinstein said.

5. Peer pressure. As teens become better at abstract thinking, their social anxiety begins to increase.  Ever wonder why your teen seems obsessed with what others are thinking and doing?

Abstract reasoning makes it possible to consider yourself from the eyes of another. Teens may use this new skill to ruminate about what others are thinking of them. In particular, peer approval has been shown to be highly rewarding to the teen brain, Johnson said, which may be why teens are more likely to take risks when other teens are around.

Friends also provide teens with opportunities to learn skills such as negotiating, compromise and group planning. "They are practicing adult social skills in a safe setting and they are really not good at it at first," Feinstein said. So even if all they do is sit around with their friends, teens are hard at work acquiring important life skills.

4. Measuring risk.  "The brakes come online somewhat later than the accelerator of the brain," said Johnson, referring to the development of the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system respectively.

At the same time, "teens need higher doses of risk to feel the same amount of rush adults do," Johnson said. Not a very comforting thought for parents.

This is a time when teens are vulnerable to engaging in risky behaviors, such as trying drugs, sex, getting into fights or jumping into unsafe water.

So what can a parent do during this risky time? "Continue to parent your child." Johnson said. Like all children, "teens have specific developmental vulnerabilities and they need parents to limit their behavior," she said.

It’s when being a parent to your child instead of trying to be their “friend” is more difficult but much more important for their physical and emotional safety.

3. Yes, parents are still important. According to Feinstein, a survey of teenagers revealed that 84 percent think highly of their mothers and 89 percent think highly of their fathers. And more than three-quarters of teenagers enjoy spending time with their parents; 79 percent enjoy hanging out with Mom and 76 percent like chilling with Dad. That’s not 100%, but it’s probably more than you thought.

One of the tasks of adolescence is separating from the family and establishing some autonomy, Feinstein said, but that does not mean a teen no longer needs parents – even if they say otherwise.

"They still need some structure and are looking to their parents to provide that structure," she said. "The parent that decides to treat a 16 or 17 year old as an adult is behaving unfairly and setting them up for failure." 

Listening to your teen and being a good role model, especially when dealing with stress and the other difficulties life can present, can help your teen figure out their own coping strategies.

2. Sleep. Ah, yes, sleep. Although teens need 9 to 10 hours of sleep a night, their bodies are telling them a different story. Part of the problem is a shift in circadian rhythms during adolescence: It makes sense to teen bodies to get up later and stay up later, Johnson said.

But due to early bussing and class schedules, many teens rack up sleep debt and "become increasingly cognitively impaired across the week," Johnson said. Sleep-deprivation only exacerbates moodiness and cloudy decision-making. And sleep is thought to aid the critical reorganization of the teen brain.

"There is a disconnect between teen’s bodies and our schedules," Johnson said.

Shutting down the electronics an hour before bedtime has been shown to help teens as well as adults get to sleep quicker and sleep better. No computer, TV, video games or cell phones.

1.The “I am the Center of the Universe” syndrome. You may have noticed that your teen’s hormones are causing quite a bit of havoc. Experts say that’s to be expected. But you may still wonder- what the heck is going on with my kid?

The hormone changes at puberty have huge affects on the brain, one of which is to spur the production of more receptors for oxytocin, according to a 2008 issue of the journal Developmental Review.

The increased sensitivity caused by oxytocin has a powerful impact on the area of the brain controlling one’s emotions. Teens develop a feeling of self-consciousness and may truly believe that everyone is watching him or her. These feelings peek around age 15.

While this may make a teen seem self-centered (and in their defense, they do have a lot going on), the changes in the teen brain may also spur some of the more idealistic efforts tackled by young people throughout history.

"It is the first time they are seeing themselves in the world," Johnson said, meaning their greater autonomy has opened their eyes to what lies beyond their families and schools. They are asking themselves, she continued, for perhaps the first time: What kind of person do I want to be and what type of place do I want the world to be?

Until their brains develop enough to handle shades of grey, their answers to these questions can be quite one-sided, Feinstein said, but the parents' job is to help them explore the questions, rather than give them answers.

And there you have it. Teen’s brains are exploding with new data, confusing signals and dueling desires. It’s a tough time in one’s development- but rest assured, what you teach them by example and compassion as well as how you gingerly help guide them will last a life-time. Even when you do the best you can, there are no guarantees that they will turn out the way you’re hoping they will – they are after all- individuals with a will and a mind of their own. But now you know a little more about why your teen acts the way they do.

Story Source: Robin Nixon, http://www.livescience.com/13850-10-facts-parent-teen-brain.html

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