Your Teen

4 Dangerous Teen Trends Parents Should Know

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When kids get together they not only share the latest gossip or fashions, but also dangerous trends.

Children in middle school and high school are sharing videos of kids their age doing incredibly perilous activities and many times, their parents don’t have a clue.

Today, parents need to know what kinds of influences their kids are being inundated with. The types of trends that are gaining in popularity aren’t necessarily the ones that your child will easily divulge.

As the school year reconnects students and introduces new peers into the mix, pre-teens and teens-in search of recognition-are either doing or considering doing some seriously stupid things.

We know that kids in this age group act out impulsively with little thought given to consequences. There’s a scientific reason for this type of behavior.

Brain scans reveal that the frontal lobes, used in making critical and objective decisions, do not mature until about age 25.

Since the brain is still developing, choices teens make can be strongly influenced by peer pressure, a need to stand out among others and intense emotional feelings. A pre-teen or adolescent’s decision making may become overwhelmed by their immature circuitry.

While you may think your child would never do something truly dangerous, he or she may surprise you.

Here are four popular trends that parents need to be aware of:

The Fire Challenge: This one is particularly dangerous. Teens are taking the “fire challenge.” They are dousing themselves in flammable liquids, lighting it and — in theory —extinguishing it before being seriously injured, while recording the act and then sharing the video on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Yes, our kids are recording themselves being engulfed in flames, flailing and screaming in pain. 

There are thousands of the videos circulating and injuries have included severe burns and hospitalization. Officials around the country, along with the American Burn Association, are asking parents to warn their child about the game.

Many parents just can’t believe their child would actually do something like this, but even “good” kids are taking the challenge. Be sure and talk to your child about these types of videos and persuade them not to share or promote them with friends.

Synthetic Pot or Spice: Also called “Scooby snacks,” “K2,” or any of half a dozen other names, teens might consider this an “alternative” to pot, but it’s dangerously more potent. These “synthetic cannabinoids” consist of dozens of chemicals manufactured in China, Eastern Europe and American labs.

The drug looks like potpourri or lawn clippings. The pieces have been sprayed or soaked with a solution of designer chemicals.

 Because of the popularity of these drugs, there has been an explosion of ER visits related to Spice or K2 over the past few years. There’s been a reported death in California of a 19 year –old that took one after he took just one hit of Spice. So if you hear your kids talking about it, know that despite the name, the only thing that is being cooked here is your teen’s brain.  

Dirty Sprite: Although this may sound like a soda that’s got dirt on it- it’s much more insidious than that. When you hear a reference to “Dirty Sprite,”. Kids are talking about the latest teen party drink. It’s also called “Drank” or “”Lean.” It’s a combination of Sprite, candy (usually Jolly Ranchers) and prescription drugs or codeine cough syrup.

There are YouTube videos of teens creating the concoction, and even sweatshirts with the recipe printed on it.

Experts warn that Dirty Sprite can be addictive and tell parents that it’s best to keep prescription meds locked up, as well as discarding ones that have expired. If you think that it won’t help to talk to your kids about prescription drug abuse, you’re wrong. Children who learn a lot about the risks of drugs are up to 50 percent less likely to use them, according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Texting and Walking or Driving:  Every year a new batch of teens is behind the wheel, especially once school begins.  Never stop reminding your teen of the dangers of texting and driving. They may roll their eyes or give you the typical “I get it mom (dad)” response, but repeated warnings stick in the mind. A recent study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health found that among teens, 25 percent reported responding to a text message at least once every time they drive, and 20 percent admitted to holding multi-message conversations.

Since videos are one way that other dangerous trends are spread, you can share more valuable videos by showing your teen stories that show the outcomes of teens’ texting and driving. They act as a third-party negotiator that makes the point clearly.

But perhaps the best type of parental influence is to just be a good role model. Sadly, adults are the biggest offenders of texting and driving. The “Do as I say, not as I do” attitude never brings about the desired results.

It's not just driving, either. Pedestrian injuries among 16 to 19-year olds have been increasing and the death rate among older teens is at least twice that of younger kids, according to SafeKids.com. It's unclear how many of those are because of mobile devices, but it's worth reminding your teen, "eyes up while walking." 

These are only four of the most dangerous trends this year. Kids are often too afraid to say no to their peers. As parents, it’s our job to teach them how and to report what they are seeing and hearing from other teens.

Research, open communication and reminders are essential to helping your child understand that these are not the sort of activities that will bring a brighter, happier or healthier future.

Source: Kavita Varma-White, http://www.today.com/parents/fire-challenge-spice-4-things-parents-should-get-clue-about-2D80183586

Your Teen

“Sexting” and Teen’s Sexual Activity

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Sexting is texting accompanied with sexual pictures of your self to someone else. They can be nude photos, pictures of genitalia only or provocative poses. A new study looks at teens and sexting to see if teens that participate in sexting are more likely to become sexually active. A kind of which comes first scenario- sexual activity then sexting, or sexting then sexual activity?

Earlier research has shown teens that sext with explicit images are more likely to be sexually active than kids that don’t sext.

But which comes first?

The new findings suggest that, at least for some kids, the sexting comes first – the activity later. It’s being referred to as the current form of “getting to first base.”

“This behavior isn’t always new, it’s just a new medium,” said Jeff Temple, an associate professor and psychologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and the study’s author. “But it’s not safe because it can be shared.”

The study’s findings come from a 2012 study covering a 6-year period. Almost 1,000 teens in Texas answered anonymous surveys detailing their history of sexting, sexual activity and other behaviors.

Temple and his postdoctoral fellow, Hye Jeong Choi, then looked at data from years two and three of the surveys to determine if sexting led to risky behaviors or if risky behaviors came first.

“Sexting preceded sexual behavior in many cases,” Temple said. “The theory behind that is sexting may act as a gateway or prelude to sexual behaviors or increases the acceptance of going to the next level.”

The study also found that among the teens having sex, most weren’t engaging in risky sexual behaviors.

Temple, who spends much of his time working with teens in local high schools and middle schools to discuss issues related to sexuality said this news shouldn’t send parents locking their kids away. In fact, he welcomed the findings, as a “call to arms to talk to your kid about sexual health or behavior,” he said. “This is kind of good news that sexting comes first. So if I catch them sexting, then maybe I have an opportunity to talk to them.”

While sexting is certainly a concern for parents, the subject itself is something that teens and parents should spend time discussing. The more trust worthy information teens have on the subject of sex, the better decisions they are able to make and the better they are at protecting their mental and physical health.

Source: Amy Joyce, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/10/06/sexting-is-the-new-first-base-yes-maybe-even-your-child/

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

Is Your Teen’s Aching Knee More Than “Growing Pains”?

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Many kids experience what is commonly referred to as “growing pains” as they get older.  Children may experience aches and pains as young as 3 to 4 years old, then again around 8 to 12 years of age.

When a teen’s legs and knees hurt, he or she may also be told that they are probably suffering from growing pains and that they will grow out of it. 

There are times when a youngster or teen has simply overdone it by running and / or jumping too much. Like anyone else, if they haven’t used those muscles enough – they’ll be sore.

However, consistent knee pain is something else.

A Danish study says that if a teen’s knee pain persists, it could become a chronic condition affecting their quality of life.

"We can see from the study that one in three young people between the ages of 12 and 19 experience problems with pain in their knees," said Michael Skovdal Rathleff, a physiotherapist from Aarhus University. "Seven percent of the adolescents experience daily knee pain in the front of the knee. More than half still have problems after two years, so it is not something they necessarily grow out of."

The study involving 3,000 teens revealed knee pain is a more significant problem than previously thought.

"If knee pain is not treated there is a high risk of the pain becoming chronic. And this clearly has a big consequence for the individual's everyday life and opportunities," Rathleff noted in a university news release. "Our findings show that these adolescents have as much pain symptoms and reduced quality of life as adolescents on a waiting list for a cruciate knee ligament reconstruction, or as a 75-year-old six months after receiving a new knee."

Other studies have shown that about 25 percent of patients who've undergone a knee replacement because of osteoarthritis of the kneecap also had knee pain since they were teenagers. Osteoarthritis of the kneecap, the researchers concluded, may sometimes begin early in life. They added, however, that earlier treatment and proper training could help.

According to a study published in BMC Pediatrics, pain resolves in about half of the young people with knee pain when they get the right physical therapy. Unfortunately, many kids may not get the therapy they need soon enough.

"It is worrying that the pain only disappears in the case of half of the young people who actually do the training," said Rathleff. "The indications are that we should start the treatment somewhat earlier where it is easier to cure the pain."

Do all teens with a bad knee need physical therapy? Not necessarily, it all depends on the child's circumstances, Rathleff noted.

If your child has knee pain that doesn’t seem to go away or consistently comes and goes, you might want to talk with your family doctor or pediatrician about physical therapy and see if he or she recommends it. The benefits could be life changing for your active teen. 

Source: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/teen-growing-pains-may-persist-for-years-690210.html

Your Teen

Teens More Stressed Than Adults

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Teens are feeling more stressed than adults and it’s affecting every aspect of their lives according to the results from a new national survey.

The 2013 “Stress in America” survey involved responses from 1,950 adults and 1,018 teens. Teens reported that during the school year an average stress level of 5.8. That is way above 3.9, which is considered a normal level of stress. Even during the summer months, when the stress level typically decreases, teens averaged a 4.6 score. Ten was the highest score on the stress scale.  

Adults reported more stress as well with an average of 5.1 on the scale.

Teens reported that their main stressor was school, with one out of ten saying that stress led to lower grades. Money was the top reason given for stess among adults, followed by work and the economy.

Thirty-one percent of the teens reported feeling overwhelmed and thirty percent said they feel depressed or sad. Adolescent girls were more likely to feel down from stress than boys, which holds true in the adult population with more women reporting feeling depressed than men. 

 This is the first time the group has focused on teen stress. Other research has studied teen depression and other mental health concerns, but officials say this may be the most comprehensive national look at stress in teens to date. Despite anecdotal reports of high stress, researchers say stress itself in adolescents hasn't been studied broadly; global comparisons have focused on adult stress rather than teens.

Teens reported feeling irritable, angry, nervous, anxious and tired at around the same rate as adults. More than one-third of teens said they were exhausted due to the stress in their lives, and 25 percent skipped a meal because of the added pressure.

Teens seem to realize they are not doing enough to manage their stress with four out of 10 reporting that weren’t actively working towards finding positive ways to cope with their stress and thirteen percent saying that they didn’t do anything to help deal with the added pressure on their lives.

“It is alarming that the teen stress experience is so similar to that of adults. It is even more concerning that they seem to underestimate the potential impact that stress has on their physical and mental health,” APA CEO and executive vice president Norman B. Anderson said in a press release.  “In order to break this cycle of stress and unhealthy behaviors as a nation, we need to provide teens with better support and health education at school and home, at the community level and in their interactions with health care professionals.”

Like adults, stressed kids are not getting enough sleep, overeating, and not exercising.

“When spending time with teens, we can encourage them to exercise, eat well, get the sleep they need and seek support from health care professionals like psychologists to help them develop healthier coping mechanisms for stress sooner rather than later,” said Anderson.

How parents handle stress impacts how their children are able to handle stress. Family dinners together or time that is specifically set aside for family discussions provide a good opportunity to discuss what is going on in each others lives. Talk to your kids about your day and what events caused you stress, what you learned from them and how you handled them. Ask your child to be honest about the kinds of things that make them feel overwhelmed or stressed. It’s not a parent’s job to try and protect their children from everything that is unpleasant, but to teach them positive coping mechanisms so they can grow into healthy and happy adults.

Source: Michelle Castillo, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/stress-in-america-survey-reveals-teens-feel-more-pressure-than-adults/

Sharon Jayson, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/02/11/stress-teens-psychological/5266739/

Your Teen

Studies: Smoking and Students

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Everyone knows that smoking is really bad for you. But, how do you help kids keep from starting the expensive and nasty habit in the first place? Peer pressure seems to help. And for young adults who are already smokers, what will it take to break the habit? Perhaps being able to breathe better is a key motivator.

Kids as young as 10 admit to sneaking a smoke every once in a while, while 17 percent of high-school students and 5.2 percent of middle-school students admit to being daily cigarette smokers. Many college students bring their habit with them when they enroll.

What helps kids keep from starting to smoke? A new study suggests that kids who are involved in team sports with teammates, who do not smoke, are less likely to start. 

Interestingly, the study showed that girls involved in sports with teammates who do smoke, are more likely to give it a try. Peer pressure seems to have more of an impact among girls.

"This result suggests that peers on athletic teams influence the smoking behavior of others even though there might be a protective effect overall of increased participation in athletics on smoking," study leader Kayo Fujimoto, who conducted the research while at the University of Southern California, said in a journal news release.

Researchers questioned 1,260 sixth through eighth graders about their smoking behavior. The children were middle class, lived in urban areas and ethnically diverse. The study, appearing Feb. 8 in Child Development, found that the more sports the kids played, the less likely they were to smoke.

The authors of the study believe that these findings may be helpful in improving anti-smoking campaigns aimed at children.

"Current guidelines recommend the use of peer leaders selected within the class to implement such programs," said Fujimoto. "The findings of this study suggest that peer-led interactive programs should be expanded to include sports teams as well."

Another recent study focused on college students who smoke.

Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, studied 327 college students- ages 18 to 24 years old- who participated in a program to help motivate them to quit smoking. More than half the students smoked five to 10 cigarettes a day and had smoked for one to five years.

Participants who quit smoking for two weeks or more reported substantially fewer respiratory symptoms, especially coughing, than those who failed to kick the habit.

"That the benefit of stopping smoking starts in days to weeks -- not years or decades -- is important. Now health care providers can counsel young smokers that their breathing can feel better soon after they stop. This can help to motivate young adults to stop smoking before the severe damage is done," journal editor Dr. Harold Farber, an associate professor of pediatrics in the pulmonology section at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said in a journal news release.

Smoking has continued to decrease on college campuses, perhaps due to stricter smoking policies. Many colleges prohibit smoking anywhere on campus, and others do not allow smoking within a certain amount of feet from doorways. Cigarettes are expensive as well. Many college students are barely getting by with the increase costs in tuition. Something has to give, and cutting out cigarettes can save a pretty tidy sum. Also, smoking has lost a lot of its “cool” factor. Many students just find it annoying. 

Health professionals are always looking for ways to impress upon young people that smoking isn’t only a social nuisance, it can also become a serious long-term health problem.

Perhaps these studies can offer counselors, parents and friends, new discussion points in the battle to help kids avoid smoking or to help them quit. 

Sources: http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=66152 /  http://www.doctorslounge.com/index.php/news/hd/26596

Your Teen

Study: No Health Risks for Kids From Mobile Phones

A new study conducted by the German government shows that radiation from mobile phones has no short-term health impact on children and teenagers. The study, which measured radiation levels in over 3,000 children aged eight to 17 over a 24-hour period, showed there was no direct link between exposure to radiation and health complaints such as headaches and dizziness.

However, the study did say that radiation may still result in longer-term health risks for children as their nervous and immune systems are not fully developed. As a precautionary measure, researchers urged caution in the use of wireless technology, especially for children.

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Your Teen

Cyberbullying

It used to be that parents only had to worry about their child being bullied while on the playground. But now, with over 50 million children online, parents need to take steps to make sure their children are not being bullied while online.

“When a child is online, you can’t see how the victim is reacting, you can’t see how many people are against one person,” says Dr. Kristy Hagar, an assistant Professor of Psychiatry UT Southwestern Medical Center. She says some of the warning signs of cyberbullying include a child not wanting to go to school, behavioral changes and spending a lot of time online. “Girls tend to cyberbully more frequently than boys,” says Dr. Hagar. She also adds that pre-teens are more likely to tell their parents about it than older children. It is important for parents to talk with their children at an early age about internet safety and predators. Dr. Hagar also says parents should monitor their child’s online activities. “Set ground rules and time limits for computer use, this is the best way to insure safety.”

Your Teen

Glee Star is the New Face of Heroin Addiction

2.00 to read

Headlines recently announced the death of Cory Monteith, one of the stars of the TV show “Glee.” Looking at the fresh-faced young man, you’d never suspect that he struggled with alcohol and drugs. But experts say he fits the new profile of heroin users.

Many Americans are not aware of the new realities of heroin use among kids, teens and young adults. In fact, according to statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Monteith largely fits the new profile of a heroin user: a white male in his 30s.

“I deal with drug users every day,” Dr. Richard Clark, an emergency room physician and director of toxicology at the University of California San Diego Medical Center, told NBC News. “The stereotypical user on the street? That’s the past as far as heroin use in the U.S. is concerned. Lots of people are using it these days – kids, teenagers, white-collar workers.”

Many of the young adults using heroin started when they were teenagers. Many of them live in suburbs and rural communities. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), documented an alarming 80 percent increase in first use of heroin among teens since 2002.

In 2009, 510 teens and young adults between 15 and 24 died of a heroin overdose, up from 198 a decade earlier.

“People think it’s totally impossible that they could know somebody who could be on that trajectory,” said Caleb Banta-Green, a research scientist at the University of Washington School of Public Health who writes frequently about heroin use. Monteith, Banta-Green said, “is what a heroin user looks like.”

Heroin is now cheaper and more plentiful than in the past. Where heroin was once obtained from the Far East and Southwest Asia, it is now transported into the U.S. from South America and Mexico making it much more affordable and easier to get. Heroin is also coming in from Afghanistan where production has steadily increased.

Why is heroin becoming popular among teens? One reason may be because the U.S. government has made a strong push to crack down on prescription opiates, a popular drug of choice among kids. Drugs like Oxycodone and other painkillers are now harder to get and more expensive. Heroin, on the other hand, is cheap and plentiful. It also packs a stronger punch or “rush.”

Heroin use dropped sharply during the height of the late 1980s-1990s AIDS crisis because drug users didn’t want to risk injections. Now, though, heroin is often snorted or smoked, giving it the same kind of ease of use, and even societal popularity that cocaine once had.

When a heroin user overdoses, they often just stop breathing. While most teen drug users are not typically going to be snorting or injecting heroin when they are in the middle of a crowd, they may be consuming a lot of alcohol. Once they get home they may decide to top off the evening with heroin. That can be a deadly combination especially when they are in their room and no one knows to check on them.

Too many parents think that their child doesn’t fit the typical heroin user stereotype. They are simply unaware that heroin is the new “in” drug and it’s in the schools, on the playgrounds and in the malls. Dealers may be kids that you’ve known since they were little.

The sad news of Cory Monteith’s death shocked his fans, friends and family. He reportedly had been struggling with alcohol and drug abuse since his early teens. After a recent stay in rehab, many thought he had licked his demons and was on the way to a true recovery. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. He made the decision to give heroin one more try and this time it killed him.

Heroin is extremely addictive. It doesn’t play favorites. It doesn’t care if you are rich, middle-class or poor. Whether you live in a mansion, a suburb or the inner city.  It treats everyone exactly the same way and it can quickly stop a heart. 

If you suspect that your child is using ANY drugs, make it your business to find out for sure. And if they are – get them the help they need to deal with whatever is causing their use. It will not make you popular, but it may save your child’s life.

Source: Brian Alexander, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/glee-stars-od-shows-new-fresh-face-heroin-6C10658371

 

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