In It For Health

Where health and psychology intersect

Posts Tagged ‘adolescents’

The grim reality of spring break

Posted by Dr. Susan on April 3, 2010

It’s too bad that it takes a 17-year old with the prospect for a glowing future to remind us how dangerous spring break can be for high schoolers. When Ohio high school senior Matt James (headed for Notre Dame on a football scholarship), fell from a balcony to his death after drinking too much during spring break in Florida, we all stopped for 5 minutes to shake our heads and those of us with high school students were grateful that it wasn’t our kid.

But the thing is that unless you make the choice to supervise your teen on spring, winter and every other break it could just as easily be your kid! There is no specific type…most kids drink; many get drunk–they just don’t tell their parents. In fact, one national study (conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention) found that nearly 75% of high school students have had one or more alcoholic drinks in their life. That’s any kid–your kid or my kid!

Every teen’s life is worth saving, every teen has a glowing future and should have a chance to make better choices when their brain has developed and along with it, their judgment. Until then, it is the job of the adults–parents, teachers, chaperones, even hotel owners, to make sure that teens are well supervised and kept safe: even from themselves.

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Beware of weight-loss spam!

Posted by Dr. Susan on January 6, 2010

It’s interesting, but this new study shows that young adults and teens are more likely to be suckers for purchasing the products you receive in weigh-loss spam!! Don’t do it. No matter how bad you feel about your body in that moment (or the email makes you feel it), this stuff at best likely doesn’t work and at worst is bad or DANGEROUS for you. This includes supplements, liquids, and detoxification products. All of these can make your heart beat too fast and throw off your electrolytes–both of which can cause a heart attack, resulting in death–yup, really!

Stick with traditional, healthy weight loss techniquest–the kinds that come from your doctor or a well-balanced diet and exercise. Sorry!! There really are no quick fixes, expecially when it comes to your health. So make sure you hit the delete button, quickly.

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TV contributes to toddler violence

Posted by Dr. Susan on November 2, 2009

A new study finds that toddlers who watch TV are more likely to be violent! This study controlled for MANY other factors, such as mom’s depression, spanking, and living in an unsafe neighborhood. As a parent it is critical that you be aware that the TV and other media (movies, internet, video games) are not benign influences on your child–especially at young ages.

Limit exposure, and most of all pay attention to ratings. However, even during otherwise appropriate shows, the commercials may not be wholesome enough for younger viewers. For example, on Nick, during the most wholeome ‘Full House’, tantalizing ads for the super-racy ‘Degrassi’ are being shown to young kids who shouldn’t yet know about sex, sexting, drugs and other teen topics, let alone be having them role-modeled on TV. They’re already being primed to watch these shows as young as they can nag you into letting them, so be ready!

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Movie ratings really do count

Posted by Dr. Susan on June 11, 2009

When you’re taking kids or teens to the movies this summer, pay attention to the ratings. Sexual and violent content, as well as messages about people smoking, drinking and using drugs can impact negatively on a child for years to come. Read more about the importance of picking movies carefully, in my nationally syndicated column this month, A Teachable Moment.

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Even teens who THINK they’re overweight are at risk for suicide!

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 19, 2009

A huge study,  published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, finds that both BOYS and GIRLS who either are, or think they are overweight, are more likely to attempt suicide. This tells us two things:

1. We need to develop better social, school and peer supports for overweight kids and teens as well as those who have poor body images and don’t need to lose weight.

2. We need to become more effective at helping those kids who need to lose weight do so.

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TV time in teens linked to depression…interesting

Posted by Dr. Susan on February 9, 2009

Does your child watch a lot of TV? If so, here’s yes ANOTHER compelling reason to make a change! This new study finds that the more TV teens watch (especially boys), the more likely they are to become depressed as young adults. The researchers theorize that watching TV isolates kids, which makes them less likely to interact with peers–having a strong social network innoculates one against depression; or play sports–physical activity has been shown to be as effective as antidepressants for mild to moderate depression.

However, you can’t suddenly tell your teen to stop watching TV, you need to set the rules when your child is young and stick with them all the way through, beginning with no TV in bedrooms!

What’s more–if YOU are depressed, the same rules apply to you: TV isn’t helping you feel better. So turn it  off and get out…talk to your friends and go for a walk. Even better…go for a walk with your friends!

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crossing the street is harder than it seems…for kids

Posted by Dr. Susan on January 27, 2009

A really cool new study involving simulations and avatars, demonstrates that kids who talk on a cell phone while crossing the street are more likely to get hit by a car, than those who don’t. Since so many kids have phones, it is up to PARENTS to make sure that you teach your child when to hang up or STOP texting and when to really pay attention to what he or she is doing. Crossing the street can be dangerous–especially at a busy intersection. The age of technology requires rules of everything–including crossing the street!!

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Teens think they are perfect, even if no-one else does (except their parents, of course!)

Posted by Dr. Susan on November 13, 2008

For many years now, I (and many other mental health professionals) have been telling parents that it is important to balance praise with real life! Not every picture your child paints is perfect; not every poem she writes is unbelievable, and he doesn’t always play the best game of soccer ever. Sometimes your child is less than perfect and needs to know this–it is part of growing up. It will help him learn to grow as a person. Now, here is the research to prove it. This study demonstrates that teens today have self-esteems that are out of whack with reality! Basically they have become too self confidence and have lost touch with the real-life abilities. How unpleasant for the rest of us that have to deal with them in the real world. So, parents…there is still time: teach your child and teen that it’s fine to be confident, but it’s NOT cool to be bossy, self-important, smug and obnoxious. No-one other than you will put up with it in the real world!

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REALLY underage drinking…

Posted by Dr. Susan on October 25, 2008

Some parents have come to accept that their child will experiment with alcohol–and even perhaps drugs–in college, or even the upper high school grades. They hope that it won’t be serious, but they are realistic in recognizing that very few teens abstain completely.  However, this powerful and important study demonstrates that kids who drink or use drugs before they are fifteen-years old, are at much higher risk for substance dependence, sexually transmitted diseases, dropping out of school or acquiring criminal records in adulthood. Also, please note that a full fifty-percent of these kids had NO prior behavior problems!

The take home message: drinking or drugs and teens not a good combination. Be clear about your message of disapproval. Research clearly shows that parents who give their kids a clear message that they will not tolerate drinking or drugs are more likely to have kids that don’t use–especially at a younger age.

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Amethyst update

Posted by Dr. Susan on August 26, 2008

Here’s a great article  from Slate Mag. taking a look at the Amethyst Initiative!

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