Culture Snapshot: Benefits of Teen Drinking Don’t Outweigh the Dangers

Culture Snapshot: Benefits of Teen Drinking Don’t Outweigh the Dangers

HomeWord.com –HomeWord.com

A Purdue University study found that teen girls might benefit from having a few beers with friends. Really. Before we dismiss the notion as crazy, it’s important to note that research does not often deal with morals and values, but with behaviors their effects, and their causes.

In this case, the researchers reached their conclusion noting that teen girls who occasionally had a few beers with friends were less depressed because of their ability to “blow off steam, get together, have fun, and joke around with their peers.”

On face value, teen drinking is largely a social behavior. Not many occasional teen drinkers are pounding beers by themselves.

But the study was unclear as to the role the beer drinking played. Could it be that the social interaction itself — the blowing off steam, getting together, having fun, and joking around with peers –was the cause of the benefits? Frankly, it is likely that the beer drinking only provided the context for the social interaction to take place between teens. Perhaps the important (but lost) finding was that social interaction among teens reduces depression.

Let’s be clear: teen drinking –whatever the context — is far more dangerous than any perceived benefits might imply.

Studies have shown that teen drinking can lead to dangerous consequences, such as driving while drinking, alcohol poisoning, and sexual abuses. Occasional drinking for teens can also lead to heavier drinking, drunkenness, alcoholism, and other at-risk behaviors.

Yes, there’s a good possibility that your teenager will experiment with alcohol before he or she graduates from high school, but hang in there. Stay the course in setting clear expectations and consequences for drinking. Helping your kids make wise choices regarding alcohol is the best course of action.

And when it comes to social interaction among teens, yes, there are some great benefits in providing kids with opportunities to be kids: to blow off steam, have fun, and joke around with peers. But surely you can help them to identify and choose better options than drinking beer.


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Culture Snapshot: E-Cigarette Use by Teens on the Rise

Culture Snapshot: E-Cigarette Use by Teens on the Rise

HomeWord.comHomeWord.com

While teen cigarette use has declined by half since 2000, parents should be aware that three studies released in the fall of 2014 point to a significant rise in e-cigarette use by teenagers.

An e-cigarette is a device that turns nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals into an inhalable vapor. Many e-cigarettes are designed to resemble tobacco cigarettes, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly 12% of high school students and 3% of middle school students have tried e-cigarettes at least once, and 4.5% of high school students use them regularly. The 2014 Monitoring the Future survey raises more red flags, finding that 8.7% of eighth grade students had used an e-cigarette in the previous month. The numbers for previous month use by 10th graders was 16.2%, and for 12th graders, it was 17.1%. Finally, a study of 1,900 ninth and tenth grade teens in Hawaii found that 29% of these had used e-cigarettes.

 

Why it matters:
– Adolescence is a season of experimentation for teenagers. With the rise of popularity in e-cigarette use by teens, it’s likely that teens will face increasing temptation to experiment with them. A teen’s closest friends are extremely influential during these years of experimentation. Parents should be proactive to know their child’s friends, as these provide a window of understanding into your teen’s values, behaviors, and temptations.

– Nicotine is an extremely addictive drug, and one of the most heavily used addictive drugs in the United States. It activates brain circuitry that regulates feelings of pleasure and provides the body with a “reward” sensation. Both cigarettes and e-cigarettes are nicotine delivery devices.

– Currently e-cigarette manufacturers are unregulated in the U.S., and many e-cigarette products are made outside of the country. Because of the variety of manufacturers and products, it has been very difficult to determine what chemicals other than nicotine are contained in e-cigarette vapor. These chemicals may or may not be harmful to the human body.

– E-cigarette use may or may not be a better alternative than smoking tobacco. Science is clear on the dangers of cigarette smoking to health but has not yet determined the scope of risks found in e-cigarette use. Research has not yet determined whether e-cigarette use is a gateway to smoking tobacco.


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Culture Snapshot

Culture Snapshot: Today’s Marijuana 3X More Potent Than When You Were a Teen

HomeWord.com –HomeWord.com

Today’s marijuana is not the same weed that was available when your generation was growing up as teenagers. These days, marijuana carries a much bigger punch.

A new study released in March 2015 found that marijuana today is up to three times more powerful than back in the 1980s.

The research was conducted in Colorado using more than 600 legal marijuana samples provided by recreational retail merchants. Results of the study found that the test samples contained quantities of the chemical that makes people “high” – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) –of between 20% and 30%. By contrast, the THC levels from marijuana samples tested during the 1980s were all under 10%.

Why the big uptick in the levels of THC in marijuana? The researchers pointed to pot growers crossbreeding different marijuana strains – as users have demanded stronger marijuana — for the cause of the increase.

Why it matters:

– Cultural acceptance of recreational marijuana use (and specifically within youth culture) is on the rise. Parents should assume that their teenagers will be exposed to marijuana use.

– Teens might be aware of the increase of marijuana potency, but likely do not have any realistic perspective of what more powerful pot means, especially for those teens who have never experimented with marijuana before.

– Parents should take the initiative to discuss marijuana use with their teenagers, to gain insight into the prevailing attitudes and behaviors concerning marijuana among their teen’s peers and friends, and to set clear expectations and consequences regarding experimentation and use by their kids.


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Culture Snapshot: Parents Influence Teen Sleep Habits

Culture Snapshot: Parents Influence Teen Sleep Habits

HomeWord.com

A recent study by researchers at UCLA and published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that teenagers’ sleeping habits are highly influenced by their parents. Although teens and parents often went to bed and got up at different times, the duration of sleep, general bedtimes and wake up times for both were eerily similar — with teens only averaging 17 minutes more of sleep than their parents on weekdays.

The study followed over 300 pairs of teens and parents for nearly two years, with researchers tracking the daily activities and sleep habits of the participants.

With the results of the study in mind, parents should evaluate their own sleeping habits, and make changes where necessary in order to role model behaviors that may result in improved sleeping habits by their teens.

 

Why it matters:
– Today’s teens are notorious for not getting adequate sleep. A recent study found that in 2012, just 63% of 15-year-olds reported getting seven or more hours of sleep a night, a figure that is down from 72% in 1991.

– Researchers have linked the lack of adequate sleep for teens to a multitude of substantial adolescent problems including decreased level of overall health, poorer school performance, an increase in depression, and an increase in the likelihood of involvement in at-risk behaviors.

– In February of 2015, the National Sleep Foundation released updated recommendations on the amount of sleep teens and adult should get nightly. The updated recommendations were based on a review of published scientific studies and consensus from a panel of sleep, medical and psychological experts. The new recommendation for teens is 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night, and 7 to 9 hours for adults.


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Creating a Media-Safe Home

Creating a Media-Safe Home

Jim Burns –President of HomeWord and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University

For better or worse, media has a powerful influence in our kids’ lives! Today’s media sends nonstop communication, delivering its voice through television, movies, Internet, music, magazines, books, computers, smartphones, tablets, and more. Frankly, it is impossible for parents to have control over every message that is being sent to our kids.

Because parents can’t control all of their kids’ media consumption, some feel lost, hopeless, or paralyzed when facing today’s technology and media. We may complain, but it is time for us to quit whining, and do something. Don’t give up. Don’t bail out. There are things we can do and environments we can foster to create a media-safe home.

Watch, Listen, and Read. Creating a media-safe home requires that you become a student of the culture. The easiest way to get a handle on what media your kids are consuming is to watch what they watch, listen to what they listen to, and read what they read. Look for every opportunity to ask and learn from your kids.

Evaluate. Evaluate everything you see and hear with your kids. When you evaluate, don’t just play the bad-guy role. At times, this will likely be necessary, but also tell your kids what you like and why, and help them learn to discern what they are putting into their minds.

Examine Your Own Behavior. Too many parents want their kids to make good media choices but aren’t willing to discipline themselves. Remember the old adage: Children see, children do. Set the example you want your kids to follow.

Discuss and Listen; Don’t Lecture. Anytime we can truly dialog with our kids about media use and influence, it is better than any lecture or sermon we could ever deliver to them. Ultimately, you may choose to disagree with your kids’ opinions but they will at least feel you were willing to listen.

Develop Clear Expectations. Work together with your teens to come up with clearly expressed expectations about media consumption and use of the devices that deliver media. As technology changes rapidly, you’ll need to revisit the expectations from time to time to keep them relevant and current.


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Teenology: The Art of Raising Great Teenagers

Teenology: The Art of Raising Great Teenagers

Jim Burns (Review by Jake Kircher) –President of HomeWord and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University

The teenage years can be some of the most stressful times in a child’s life as they try to figure out their identity and begin making decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. It would be very easy to argue that although the time is stressful for the child, it is probably even more stressful and frustrating for parents.

Although there are a number of resources available for parents about raising teenagers, Jim Burn’s book Teenology: The Art of Raising Great Teenagers definitely rises to the top. From his years of working with and studying adolescents, coupled with the years he spent navigating his own children through their teenage years, Teenology provides some fantastic insights, wisdom and advice communicated in a straightforward, easy-to-apply format.

Tackling a wide variety of issues that arise during the teenage years, Burns covers issues such as the developmental stages of adolescence, correcting behavior and teaching healthy sexuality. Beyond the larger issues of teenage development and parenting advice, the second half of the book provides a fantastic and direct look into specific problems many teens face.


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Celebrate Your Family Identity

Celebrate Your Family Identity

Jim BurnsPresident of HomeWord and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University
On Monday nights when our girls were growing up, Cathy and I would take them to the Golden Spoon for frozen yogurt after dinner. The weekly yogurt run was part of our family identity — part of what made us who we were. Even the neighbors knew our routine and sometimes shouted to-go orders as we pulled out of our driveway. Our three daughters are now grown, but when our family gets together, we still make trips to the Golden Spoon. It’s one of those simple traditions that have kept our family bonds strong.
 
Not surprisingly, a strong family identity also helps children develop a strong and healthy self-identity. Knowing what makes their family unique — traditions, values, and ways of relating to one another — gives children a clear starting point for discovering their own place in the world. Studies have shown that kids who identify with their family’s values tend to be less promiscuous and face less risk of drug and alcohol abuse.
 
I’m a big fan of parents who make the effort to build a strong family identity. But how is it done? Here are three principles that I believe are critical to the process.
 
1. Be present. Children regard your presence in their lives as a sign of care and connectedness. Families who eat meals together, play together, and build traditions together thrive. Your presence matters! Does your family eat together at least four times a week? If so, there is a greater chance your kids will perform better in school and be less likely to exhibit negative behavior.
2. Celebrate everything! Don’t miss a single chance to celebrate your family. You can celebrate birthdays, graduations, and other rites of passage, but don’t miss out on celebrating life’s smaller occasions such as Little League victories, learned skills, and school achievements.
3. Talk about faith. For some families, spiritual discussions are easier said than done. But having faith conversations with your kids helps to build your family identity. They also help your kids build strong convictions, as they get older. When you regularly expose your kids to God’s truth, it can, as a friend of mine says, “help them develop a sweet tooth for Jesus.” And that’s something far better than buying your kids frozen yogurt at the Golden Spoon.

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Be A Jesus Coach For Your Kids

 

Be a Jesus Coach for Your Kids

Doug FieldsAuthor of Intentional Parenting

When I first began mountain biking, I quickly found it was not like the type of bike riding I did when I was a kid. It’s not “jump on the bike and ride all day.” It’s much different! There are so many moving parts like front and back sprockets, brake levers, and multiple shifting systems. Add to this the extreme terrain, and it gets very confusing. Today, I own most of the gear that is “required” for the sport. Basically, I have everything needed except for…the needed skills and the personal coaching. On a recent ride I began to think about how little I know about this sport. I really need a coach/mentor. I have so many technical questions. I’m not always sure when is the best time to shift on different slopes. I have front shocks that need to be adjusted based on the terrain and I don’t have the slightest idea what to do. My list of “how to” questions could fill pages. As I was riding and thinking about my need for a mountain bike coach/mentor, I began to think about the teenagers in our homes and the process of faith development. What are we doing with all their questions about following Christ? Do we even know the questions they’re asking (or not asking)? Or, do we assume they’ll catch everything about Jesus as they begin their “ride with him”? Much like I need a riding coach, teenagers need a “Jesus coach.” While mountain biking is much more complex than “jump on a bike”…so following Jesus is much more complex than a simple “go to church.” Could it be that we, as parents, have become good at getting kids involved at church…but we’re not so good at coaching them on how to walk with Jesus? I fear that if they don’t know how to walk with Jesus, when they graduate from high school and go on to college and their adult lives, they will also graduate away from church and perhaps even Jesus.

Some questions:
(1) Do your kids know that you want to coach them in the ways of Jesus?
(2) Do they know they can ask simple questions and have a confidence that you will care enough not to laugh at their questions?
(3) Do they know that in you, they have someone to “ride with” even though they struggle and occasionally fall?

 

Jesus spent most of his time with the few, pouring into their lives. I’d like to suggest that your “few” are living within the walls of your home. They don’t need to be told to “go to church,” they need you: a coaching, listening, loving, and caring you.

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Adolescent Research: Update on Teen Athletes and Concussions

Adolescent Research: Update on Teen Athletes and Concussions

Jim Liebelt for HomeWord.com –

In recent years there has been a considerable focus on the dangers and consequences of concussions, particularly those associated with athletics. While much of the spotlight has fallen on professional sports and athletes, plenty of information has also been revealed about teen sports and concussions. A recently released study by data examiners at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of over 900,000 medical claims found that concussion diagnoses for patients between the ages of 10 and 19 rose by 71% from 2010 to 2015.

Two new studies published in 2017 have revealed several new findings:
• A longitudinal study among men who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957 found that on average, there was no statistical or clinical harmful association between playing high school football and cognitive impairment or depression in later life. As most high school football athletes do not go on to play college or professional football, these findings may serve to alleviate some parents’ concerns over whether they should allow their kids to play high school football.
• A Canadian study has reported that for college athletes participating in high contact and collision sports, participants did show altered brain structure and function (via brain scans), but that participants did not report impairment in day-to-day functioning. The researchers remained concerned about the cumulative effects of repeated head impacts over time.

From other recent research, here are some of the findings when it comes to teens and concussions:

  • Concussions are the most common injury among teen athletes.
    • Teenage brains are particularly vulnerable to concussions.
    • Teen athletes may hesitate to report concussion symptoms.
    • Teen concussions increase risk for depression.
    • Teenage concussions can produce negative effects on academic performance.
    • Teenage concussions can result in persistent attention and memory problems for up to a year.
    • Kids with a history of previous concussions take longer to recover.
    • Second concussions can be devastating to teens.

What Can Parents Do?
• Parents should become familiar with the signs and symptoms of concussions (Google these!).
• If your teenager has suffered a concussion, seek medical attention right away.
• If your teenager has had a recent concussion, take the initiative to ensure that he/she takes the needed time to heal. Consult with your health provider and follow instructions for your teen’s recovery. Limiting exercise and activities that require concentration is typically part of the recovery process.
• Consult school officials to develop an appropriate plan before your teenager returns to school.
• Consult with coaches to develop an appropriate timetable for your teen’s safe and healthy reentry back into the sport.
• If the sport in which your teenager suffered a concussion is particularly prone to multiple concussions, by all means, consider whether or not your teen should continue participating in the sport. Investigate the current state of available protective measures and the concussion protocols taken by coaches and team staff. Reevaluate the risks and rewards of participation. Be sure to include your teen in this process.
• Have a conversation with your teen about any previous concussion symptoms she or he may have had experienced in prior seasons or sports, and about the importance of reporting all concussion symptoms in the future.


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Be a AAA Parent

Be a AAA Parent

Doug FieldsAuthor of Intentional Parenting
When I’m asked about what parents can do everyday (besides praying) that can make a huge difference in their kids’ lives, I tell them three things that can make them “AAA Parents.”
  • Affection. Everyone needs affection to thrive, but kids want affection from their parents. I’m convinced that one of reasons teenagers are so sexually promiscuous (especially girls) is because they lack affection from the significant male figure in their life. My parents were great, but they weren’t overly affectionate, so I chose to change the script in how I parented. I pour affection on my kids through hugs, back rubs, and snuggling during TV time.
  • Affirmation. Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on one good compliment.” Unfortunately, many kids go two months without any genuine affirmation from their parents. Through their words parents yield so much power to shape their kids. Imagine your child has a bank account and each encouragement, affirmation, positive comment, intentional and personal word of kindness is a deposit of a penny to their account. Each negative comment is like withdrawing a quarter. How is your child’s bank account doing?
  • Attention. Simply stated, this means parents need to focus and engage on what’s happening in their kids’ lives. Giving kids attention means more than popping by their bedroom and waving goodnight — it means tucking them in. It means more than asking how their day went — it means asking and really listening to the answer and then asking more questions. It means more than making sure they get homework done — it means helping and coaching in a way that they feel confident and empowered. Kids need to feel that they matter to their parents!
 
Parenting isn’t easy. Intentional parenting is even more difficult, but the rewards your child will reap through affection, affirmation and attention are worth the difficulty it takes for parents to make these into daily habits!

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