Born to Be Wild: Why Teens Take Risk, and How We Can Help Keep Them Safe
By Jess Shatkin
A groundbreaking, research-based guide that sheds new light on why young people make dangerous choices–and offers solutions that work
Texting while driving. Binge-drinking. Unprotected sex. There are plenty of reasons for parents to worry about getting a late-night call about their teen. But most of the advice parents and educators hear about teens is outdated and unscientific–and simply doesn’t work.
Acclaimed adolescent psychiatrist and educator Jess Shatkin brings more than two decades’ worth of research and clinical experience to the subject, along with cutting-edge findings from brain science, evolutionary psychology, game theory, and other disciplines — plus a widely curious mind and the perspective of a concerned dad himself.
Using science and stories, fresh analogies, clinical anecdotes, and research-based observations, Shatkin explains:
* Why “scared straight,” adult logic, and draconian punishment don’t work
* Why the teen brain is “born to be wild”–shaped by evolution to explore and take risks
* The surprising role of brain development, hormones, peer pressure, screen time, and other key factors
* What parents and teachers can do–in everyday interactions, teachable moments, and specially chosen activities and outings–to work with teens’ need for risk, rewards and social acceptance, not against it.
Ways to Help Teenagers Reduce and Manage School Stress
Middle and high school students are under more stress than ever before. The number of U.S. high school students who experience academic pressure increased by 62 percent over seven years even though performance improved only modestly.
The number of students who spend more than 10 hours per week doing homework rose from 12 percent to 21 percent over three years.
Increasing Concerns About Academic Stress
Some schools are experimenting with turning down the heat on students. A few have taken such measures as eliminating advanced placement classes, reducing the emphasis on textbook learning, and administering fewer tests. However, others worry that such measures are too extreme and will hurt a college-bound student’s chance of competing for spots in the nation’s best colleges.
Many schools and parents are focusing, instead, on giving students the tools for coping with the constant demands of school. This might include more counseling, yoga classes, breathing techniques, or designated homework-free days.
Helping Teenagers Cope with School Stress
All of this increased pressure to perform academically can leave young adults feeling hopeless and parents feeling helpless. However, many experts agree that there are definitive steps parents can take to help their teenagers cope. The American Academy of Pediatrics, for instance, stresses teaching children resilience through such methods building confidence, strengthening family connections, and instilling character.
Here are some specific ways in which parents can help teens become more resilient:
Teaching Organization Skills
Perhaps the only thing more stressful for a student than having to complete homework assignments in several subjects is having to complete the work in an environment full of scattered papers and misplaced supplies. The fact that a child needs special knowledge for advanced mathematics is widely known, but both parents and students often take organization skills for granted.
Just like calculus, the organization is something that has to be learned. Children should be taught as early as elementary school to keep their workspaces and backpacks well-stocked and orderly. However, it is not too late for even the most disorganized teen to learn the basics of organization.
Parents who have not mastered this themselves may face the added challenge of learning along with their teens. Depending on the situation, a teen may need guidance in one or more of the following: removing excess clutter, arranging a desk into a workable space, storing supplies, sorting school papers into folders, or writing organized notes. Some great organization tips can be found in the book Organizing from the Inside Out for Teenagers.
Teaching Time Management Skills
Time Management skills are a subset of organization skills. However, since time is less tangible than papers in a folder, its management can be a little harder to grasp.
Teen stress due to over-scheduling has often been the subject of discussion in parent circles, but the lack of scheduling can sometimes be a source of even greater pressures. Having multiple assignments, projects, and tests in the works with no study plan can lead to several major stressors, including cramming, late assignments, and poor performance.
Parents can help teens to develop the habit of keeping track of all assignments on a calendar, school planner, chart, or computer. They can also stress the importance of making a checklist of tasks to be completed and demonstrate how to quickly prioritize responsibilities.
Showing teens how to form a schedule for long-term projects or daily study plans for tests can prevent work from piling up and leading to stressful late-night cram sessions. In his book Fighting Invisible Tigers: Stress Management for Teens, psychologist Earl Hipp states that learning to set aside time for relaxation is also an important time management skill.
Teaching Relaxation Techniques
The ability to rest seems like something that should be second nature, but many people in today’s busy world simply do not know how to do it. Teaching teens simple breathing or meditation techniques can go a long way to help relieve tense muscles or calm nerves before an oral presentation. Some numerous books and videos describe such simple techniques. Parents can also advise their teens to enroll in a yoga class.
Offering as Much Support as Possible
Comprehensive way parents can help their middle or high school students to relieve stress is to simply offer their full and unwavering support. Understandably, parents want their children to learn independence, but this can be a gradual process as their children build knowledge and self-confidence.
A parent should continue to provide tutoring and emotional support as well as being actively involved in her child’s education well into the adolescent years. Even something as simple as helping a teenager with a regular household chore during final exams can reduce stress.
About the author: Diane H. Wong is a family coach. Besides, she is a research paper writerDoMyWriting so she prefers to spend her spare time working out marketing strategies. In this case, she has an opportunity to share her experience with others and keep up with advancing technologies.
If you feel you have exhausted your local resources and your teenager is experiencing extreme levels of stress, anxiety or depression – you may want to consider residential therapy. Contact us to learn more about residential treatment.
Although teens need parents to express love with all five love languages, a
teenage child usually has a primary love language they prefer.
What is a Love Language?
The idea of “love languages” – the way that people “speak” or “express”
love to others and how they prefer love to be expressed to them. People need all
five love languages, but that everyone has preferences about the love languages
they like the most.
The love languages are divided into five basic categories:
● Words of Affirmation
● Quality Time
● Acts of Service
● Receiving Gifts
● Physical Touch
How to Discover the Love Language of a Teenage Child
Parents of teens who pinned their child’s primary love languages when the
child was younger will be happy to know that the love languages stay fairly
constant. Although the love language is still the same, parents may need to “speak
the language” slightly differently during the teen years.
For parents of teens who have not yet determined their child’s love
language, there are several ways to discover the primary love language of a
teenage child. Some websites offer free online quizzes for teenagers. Parents can
send a teenage child an e-mail with a link to a quiz that will reveal a teen’s
preferences for receiving love.
Parents can also casually observe a teen notice how a teen expresses love.
People often express love in a way they like to receive love. So if a teenager often
gives compliments to others or appreciates others with words, it’s a good clue that
the teen values words of affirmation as a preferred love language.
Examples of Applying the Love Languages for Parents
Due to developmental changes in teens, parents may find that what worked
to express love to their child before the teen years may not work as well once their
children become adolescents. Parents may need to change their expression of the
love language of physical touch.
Although a child may have enjoyed and accepted hugs and kisses before
adolescence, teens may more appreciate high fives, elbows, and roughhousing.
Parents of teens can use the ideas below to better understand the expressions
of love that fit into the categories of the love languages, but parents should also
remember that teens are individuals and should take note of personal preferences
by their own children.
● Words of Affirmation – “Thanks for mowing the grass.”, “Did you
know I love you no matter what?”, “I notice you’ve been working hard on that
school project”. Teens who appreciate words of affirmation usually like cards, e-
mails, or even a simple sticky note tucked in a backpack or planted in a bathroom
● Quality Time – Parents can set up a certain time each week to spend quality time with a teenage child. Parents can also plop next to a teen who’s
watching television alone and simply “hang out” or be there. Family meals
or cooking dinner together are another way to spend quality time with a teen
throughout the week.
● Acts of Service – A teenager who receives love through acts of service
will appreciate even the smallest of tasks. Even if a teen never makes her bed, it
will most likely be noticed and appreciated if a parent makes the bed for the teen.
Other small acts of service include serving a teen a simple breakfast in bed once a
month on a school day, assisting a bit when a teen cleans her room, washing a
teen’s car every once in a while.
● Receiving Gifts – Gifts should be personal and reflect a teen’s
interests and needs. Extreme gifts aren’t necessary. Gifts can be small and
sometimes hand-made including an iTunes gift card for $5, a hand-made
personalized bookmark, a box of homemade favorite cookies, a photograph of a
● Physical Touch – Although some teens do still enjoy hugs and kisses
from parents, others don’t feel comfortable with such affection from parents. A pat
on the back, a touch on the shoulder, or a soft pat to the face may be more accepted
by teens. Games such as arm wrestling or a playful game of rough basketball are
other ideas for giving teens physical touch.
Parents of teens should also note that although a teenage child will have his
favorite love languages, teens still need a little of all of the love languages. Parents
should try to fit in a little bit of physical touch, acts of service, words of
affirmation, gifts, and quality time with teen daughters and sons on a routine
About the author: John J. Gregg is an experienced essay writer
where he provides students with an opportunity to get high grades.
Besides, He is fond of reading and playing the guitar. By the way, John dreams of
traveling a lot and visiting as many countries as possible.
Adolescents Benefit from Sessions With Their Reflexologist
Teenagers can benefit from reflexology for mood and hormone balancing, general wellness, recovery from a sports injury or simply as a stress coping tool.
Parents are likely to bring their teenaged son or daughter to a reflexologist with a specific wellness goal in mind – be it stress or pain management, mood balancing, or help with focus for school.
Reflexology is thought to be a wonderful modality for young people to get started in natural medicine therapies. The entire body is mirrored on reflex maps found on the hands, feet and ears making this form of therapy ideal for whole-body health and wellness.
Using Reflexology for the Athletic Teen
Sports are increasingly demanding on the teenaged body – often resulting in soft tissue injuries. Reflexology can be a helpful tool in speeding the healing and recovery process after a rough game.
Students that are trying to juggle a full class load as well as extra curricular activities such as dance, basketball, soccer, wrestling and the like may find their calendar overwhelming. Self-help reflexology tips from the practitioner can help the adolescent cope with these feelings and manage stress in tense moments.
Balancing Hormones with Reflexology
Nobody ever said it would be easy going through puberty and today’s teens are bombarded with hormone disrupters since conception. Advanced reflexology techniques from a qualified reflexologist can be used on the endocrine system reflexes to restore a level of balance to the body’s hormone levels.
Preteens facing their first menstrual cycle and with classic signs of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can find comfort in a nurturing reflexology session. Techniques can emphasize reproductive system reflexes and pelvic area reflexes to ease cramping and discomfort.
Reflexology as a Coping Tool for Teen Stress
Pressures from school, friends and the community can be a daily source of stress for teens. Changes in family relationships can be difficult to cope with as well. While mom can enjoy a relaxing bath and dad can knock down a couple of beers after a hectic day, how do teenagers relax?
Families can set wellness goals and health plans to incorporate regular coping tools to combat the day to day stressors of life. These might include regular exercise, healthy meal plans, and family time together – like game night or pizza dinner.
Reflexology can fit nicely into a wellness plan for the teen. Frequency will be based on factors such as stress levels and health goals. The reflexologist may suggest initial appointments be kept weekly or every other week with the goal of tapering off to monthly or seasonally.
Self-Help Reflexology for Family Bonding
Many mothers report great satisfaction in their relationship with their preteen or teen when reflexology is taken home. Exchanging foot rubs can be a nightly or weekly event between a parent and the preteen or teen child. Don’t mistake this for a girls’ only activity though – many boys enjoy giving and receiving therapeutic touch at home too.
Ask the reflexologist for suggestions on techniques or specific reflex points that would be beneficial to work between appointments. Or consider enrolling in an introductory workshop on reflexology to learn the basics from a reflexologist. Adding reflexology into a wellness plan for the whole family can be a great way to encourage communication and gird up relationships.
Leaving Reflexology up to the Teen
It is not recommended to force the teenager to attend a reflexology session. The first appointment may elicit feelings of awkwardness or embarrassment – as with most new ideas from parents. Leaving the frequency up to the teen will give him a sense of control over his wellness so he can request a session without having to explain the need for one.
If the teen is particularly reluctant to trying something new, the reflexologist may offer an introductory meeting to answer any questions and explain what to expect from a reflexology session. Most adolescents find reflexology thoroughly enjoyable – it is relaxing, safe, and can be controlled by requesting changes in pressure techniques.
About the author: Bianca J. Ward is a professional marketing manager atessaywriterfree. Besides, she is a passionate photographer and traveler who has visited 52 countries all over the world. Bianca dreams about creating a photo exhibition to present her works to others.
Students with disabilities face many challenges in their learning process as compared to normal students. Several educational institutions have been created to cater for their special needs. Disabled students can be grouped into different sub-categories depending on the nature of the disability they have.
“Students with physical impairments face a lot of challenges especially in a school environment,” says Amanda Gates, a health writer. There are students who do not have upper limbs; others do not have lower limbs. Such students suffer when it comes to mobility. Moving from one place to another is a very big problem for them. Most of them are sometimes frustrated because they feel as if other children do not want to associate with them.
Children with physical disability often times are not able to do certain things on their own; therefore parents will have to support them. Parents of such children are so frustrated to the extent that their children feel which affects the development of disabled children. Because of this kind of anger, their academic performance deteriorates a great deal. Learning how to write is normally very challenging, therefore, teachers will have to always spend much time teaching such students.
Blind students also face many challenges in their pursuit of education. Someone must always be present to ensure that they are safe. In most schools, blind children are sometimes being mocked by other students from neighboring schools and this actually affects them academically. This situation normally occurs in their first years of school life. “Unlike normal students, blind students need to read using Braille, which requires extra effort to learn,” notes Brian Winston, Managing Medical Writer. In most cases, teachers who are working with blind children do not understand how best to teach blind students because they were never taught in the same way. Perhaps, their teacher training programs did not prepare them well.
Teaching a student with hearing problems is not an easy task. Teachers need to invest a lot of time teaching them how to use sign language. Special attention should be given to such students in order for them to learn effectively. In the society, for example, you will realize that very few deaf people are employed in high profile jobs. Consequently, because deaf students lack role models who have achieved positively, they do not get motivated to work harder resulting in poor performance in their respective schools. Parents of deaf students should play a major role in their children’s education.
Spinal Cord Disability
Students with spinal cord disability face more serious problems with regard to their education. This kind of disability differs significantly from one individual to the other. There are those students who cannot move without the use of the wheelchair and this poses a major problem in a school environment. Such students will not be able to do certain things on their own resulting in poor performance.
In some cases, socializing with their peers is not possible because they cannot engage in school physical exercises. Isolation is very common among such students because normal students do not understand what happened to them. When such things happen to them, they feel unwanted and rejected making them not to achieve their goals in life.
Brain injuries differ from one person to the other. As time advances, the effects become unique to an individual especially for students pursuing education. A student who sustains head injury can sometimes find studies very challenging because of brain damage resulting from heavy impact. Impaired judgment is one of the characteristics associated with this kind of injury, which normally results in poor performance. Most brain injuries can sometimes be fatal; therefore, teachers attending to such students should be extra cautious when handling them.
Teachers have encountered students with varying disabilities. Cognitive disability is one of them. Students with this kind of disability find it hard to grasp information faster as compared to their counterparts. Studies have shown that their intelligence quotient is below average.
Therefore, their respective teachers should try to learn the methodology of teaching them in order for them to become productive people in their mature life after school.
Conclusively, it is evident that students with disabilities have several issues affecting them negatively in their process of learning. Parents and teachers should work closely to ensure that these students are provided with the best education possible. Governments should take a key role in ensuring that their citizens with disabilities are offered the best education. This can only be achieved by training teachers properly.
There is a rough idea that managing and understanding emotions increase the human chances of success. So here are some of the science of emotional intelligence.
Thinking about feelings
Emotional intelligence starts with social and self-awareness, which is roughly the ability to recognize human emotions in oneself and others. Awareness begins with reflection, which leads to someone asking themselves about their emotional strengths and weaknesses.
For example, medical students use nursing assignment help to find their weaknesses when performing emotional resilience tasks. People also go a long way into asking how their mood affects their decision-making and thoughts. Having questions like those may generate valuable insights that can get utilized to someone’s advantage.
It entails taking a moment to halt, and I think well before speaking or acting. The deed can assist you from embarrassing yourself or giving out comments quickly. It, therefore, helps you not to make a permanent decision while you have a temporary emotion.
Striving to control thoughts
A slight moment may not give you enough room to control your emotions, but you can control how you react to such feelings, and that can get done by focusing only on your thoughts. If you strive to maintain your thoughts, you can resist being coming to a Messenger or a slave to your feelings and emotions, and that can allow you to live in harmony with yourself along with your values and goals.
Benefiting from criticism
There is no single person that enjoys getting negative feedback. But, on the other hand, criticism is a Golden chance for learning even if you don’t get it in the best way possible. It will also allow you to see how others think. So, instead of feeling bad when you get negative feedback, hold your emotions and ask yourself how you can make it better.
To be authentic does not mean that you share everything concerning yourself with everyone. It means speaking out what you mean and telling whatever you say while sticking to your principles and values above anything else. Not everyone will come around to accept or appreciate your thoughts or feelings, but the people who matter will do it.
Showing empathy includes understanding the feelings and thoughts of other people and understanding that can help find more that you have a deeper connection with other people. Instead of labeling and judging other people, you will work hard to see how they view things through their eyes. Of course, to be empathetic does not mean that you agree with other people’s points of view or perception. Still, understanding how they see things allows you to be more connected and build stronger relationships.
All human beings are grateful for appreciation and acknowledgment. When you praise other people, you will satisfy their craving, and in the process, you will find yourself building trust. It all begins with focusing on the good that you see in others. Afterward, if you share what you appreciate in them, you’ll inspire them to become the best version that they can be.
Giving positive feedback
When you give negative feedback to people, they will get their feelings hurt and after you realize this, try reframing criticism as a constructive type of feedback so that the recipient can see it as a helpful thought instead of a harmful one.
Parents wondering how to best prevent drug use may only need to look in the mirror for their best answer. How parents approach their duties to their teenagers makes a major difference in whether their young teens will experiment, abuse, or become addicted to drugs.
Parents need to focus on three primary areas. These include setting appropriate rules and guidelines for teen behavior outside of the family, expressing and enforcing appropriate rules with their adolescent in regards to school achievement, and setting strong boundaries by conveying education and limits about drug and alcohol use.
Drugs That Teenagers Commonly Use
Commonly used drugs by teenagers include marijuana, alcohol, ecstasy, cocaine, mushrooms, acid, and amphetamines. Some teenagers are exposed to drugs such as heroin, crack, and ketamine. These drugs all have different effects on the body, but each one can lead to dependency and a complete change in the teen’s behavior.
The Effects of Drugs on the Body
Drugs can have various effects on the body of teenagers. Some serious health effects come from using and abusing drugs. These include severe depression, mood swings, violence, heart problems, seizures, organ damage, anorexia, obesity, and brain damage. Drugs can also lead to overdoses, causing comas or death.
Signs That Your Teen is on Drugs
Signs that a teenager is on drugs vary depending on the drug being used. Signs that a teen is using marijuana include uncontrollable laughter, red or glossy eyes, slow and loud talking, eating large amounts of food, and sleeping a lot.
Signs of alcohol or downers – such as heroin and ketamine – abuse include slurred speech, difficulty standing or walking, anger, uncontrollable crying, vomiting, and passing out. Signs that a teen is on stimulants such as ecstasy, cocaine, and amphetamines include fast-talking, high energy levels, lack of appetite, weight loss, poor sleep habits, mood swings, anger, and euphoria. Upon signs of drug use in teens, parents should do their research to best help their teenagers get help for the problem.
Establishing Influence on the Behavior of Your Teen Outside the Family
Parents need to remember their teens will likely carry social skills learned within the family into their lives outside the family.
This means parents need to adopt a priority in helping teens learn to interact with others.
These skills include:
The ability to express their opinion clearly.
The ability to stand up to peers while feeling good about themselves.
The ability to ask for help with questions and situations which confuse the teenager.
The ability to find friends with supportive values.
These skills are communicated through everyday activities within the family. Parents may wish to consider specific exercises to increase these skills. Parents must also keep the channels of communication open, responding with empathy and information when a teenager seeks advice.
Encouraging School Achievement
Students’ performance in comparison to their peers seems to have a relation with drug behavior according to Dishion. Parents need to make homework and other school objectives a paramount concern.
Some ideas to focus on homework success include:
Setting up specific times for homework and being available to teens during this time.
Rewarding successful completion of homework projects.
Providing discipline for failing to complete homework or projects.
Contacting teachers and principals to clarify and verify assignments.
Setting Clear Limits about Drugs
Parents need to be very clear about their non-tolerance of drug and alcohol use by their teens. Discipline and punishments should be made clear to the teenager. Education about drug effects and dangers should also be reiterated. Many experts agree that education does not increase drug use, but rather may serve to provide teenagers more reasons to say no.
Have a no-drug policy at home.
Address drug dangers and effects with their teens.
Reflect sober living to their teens.
React immediately and seriously to any violations of the home’s no drug policy.
Provide ongoing education to the teenager about drugs, especially those drugs receiving social or media attention.
Parents hold an incredible ability to influence their teens away from drug and alcohol abuse. By teaching teens to hold onto their values in the face of peer pressure, establishing good classroom habits, and providing clear boundaries on drug use, parents play an essential role in preventing drug abuse.
About the author: Nicholas H. Parker is an essay writer atBuyEssayClub. He used to manage the content team at the company he worked for. Currently, Nicholas writes articles to share his knowledge with others and obtain new skills. Besides, he is highly interested in the psychology sphere.
Helping Your Teens Hone Useful Skills for the Future
Every parent wants to see their teens succeed in life. That’s the biggest job of parenting, after all – raising someone who can eventually go out on their own and do good things in the world.
Sometimes, it can feel like teaching them how to be a good person is easier than teaching them how to be successful in a career.
You don’t have to come up with any grand schemes or techniques when it comes to helping your teen succeed. They might already have certain skills that can help them in the future. It’s just a matter of honing those skills and discovering their true passions.
How can you help your teenager do that? Why is it so important for them to become self-sufficient in the first place? Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of useful skills and how they can positively impact your teens’ future.
Why Self-Sufficiency is Important
When you turn in a resume for a job, there are two different skill sets a potential employer will look at – hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills include specific talents and strengths as they pertain to a job, like computer skills, management skills, or marketing skills.
Soft skills have become more important in recent years as employers are looking for well-rounded individuals. Soft skills include things like:
Soft skills can help your teens to become more self-sufficient and emotionally intelligent. Those are incredible tools and characteristics to have in the working world. Almost anyone can learn a hard skill, but soft skills require time to build and grow. Some people naturally have more of them than others, but honing in on them will make it easier for your teenager to “leave the nest,” understand what others are thinking and feeling, and use their instincts to get a job done.
If you’re concerned that your teen doesn’t have many soft skills, they can be taught. Most people do have them but may not show them often. Find ways to encourage your teen to express themselves more frequently. Doing so can show them how important those skills are and how far they will get them.
Practical Skills Your Teen Should Know
Encouraging your teen to develop their soft skills doesn’t mean the hard skills should be ignored! There are some practical things every teenager should know – not just for career success, but when it comes to self-sufficiency and being able to take care of themselves. Useful skills for the future aren’t just about work. Teaching your teens life skills will boost their confidence, reduce stress levels, help them set goals, and motivate them to learn more.
Start with some basic life skills you’re most comfortable with. Maybe you’re handy with car repairs. Teaching your teen some DIY car maintenance solutions like how to change their oil or fix a flat tire can go a long way.
Do you like to be in the kitchen? Cooking is an incredible skill that your teen can either use in their personal or professional life if they want to pursue it as a career.
Ask your teen what they’re interested in, too. Maybe they’ve always watched you doing things around the house or using your own skills for something and they want to try it for themselves. Life skills are about learning and taking on new challenges. Whatever you teach your teen – whether it’s career-focused or not, make sure it’s something they will be able to utilize on their own for a lifetime.
Harnessing Your Teens’ Strengths
Teenagers (and adults) should always be willing to learn and grow. No matter how old you are, lifelong learning will teach you the skills needed to succeed and thrive in every area of your life. But, that doesn’t mean skills should ever be forced – especially as a teenager.
If you’re having a hard time helping your teen hone useful skills for the future, consider the things they already enjoy doing. How can their current strengths, hobbies, and interests better their future? Could they fuel a career? You might be surprised at how certain things your teens enjoy could actually help them become successful.
For example, if it seems like your teenager spends a lot of their time playing video games, you might assume they’re just being lazy. But, gaming skills can be extremely helpful in the real world. Video games can help with:
Talk to your teen about the things they enjoy most when they’re playing video games, and help them to focus on those specific skills. The same rings true for any hobby or passion they might have.
Whether they’re into sports, music, art, animals, or spending time with people, there are strengths to be found everywhere. Sometimes, it just takes a little encouragement and digging to find them. As a parent, offer that encouragement consistently and freely, and you’ll be able to stand by proudly as your teen steps into a successful future.
Teenagers today could probably be known as the “iPhone generation”. They never knew a world without technology at their fingertips, and they’ve grown up with screens and digital devices at every turn. So, smartphones, tablets, and computer screens are part of everyday life for most teenagers.
But, is that a good thing?
Parents and scientists alike have shown great interest in the effects of screen time on a teenager’s health. Some studies have argued that too much of it can cause physical health issues. On the other hand, many teens use technology as a way to stay connected. Taking it away could impact their mental health.
So, what’s the answer? As a parent, that’s up to you. But, it’s important to know what screen time can really do to your teen – especially when it comes to their mental health.
Common Mental Health Concerns
It’s estimated that teenagers spend over seven hours looking at their phones each day. Whether they’re scrolling through Instagram, creating TikToks, or chatting on WhatsApp, it’s easy for teenagers to get lost in the social aspect of being on their phones. Of course, phones and tablets are also used for entertainment, like watching videos and playing games. The options are endless, which makes it easy to waste hours without really thinking about it.
That connection can lead to things like peer pressure, bullying, or even just the desire to “fit in” on different social media platforms. Your teen might feel as though they have to constantly be plugged in just to keep up with their friends.
Unfortunately, that can take a toll on their mental health. One study found that teens who spend at least three or four hours a day looking at a screen have an increased risk of depression, thoughts of self-harm, and even suicide. Another study found that young people who spend at least seven hours in front of a screen each day are more likely to officially be diagnosed with depression or anxiety. It also found that the less screen time a teen had, the better their overall wellbeing.
The mental health issues associated with too much screen time can lead to bigger problems. Depression and anxiety can cause teenagers to:
Have trouble concentrating
Losing interest in things they love
Have lower test scores
It can be difficult to understand teen depression. But, paying attention to these warning signs can alert you that something isn’t right. If you know that your teen spends most of their time in front of a screen, it won’t be hard to connect the dots and find out where their problems are stemming from.
Don’t Overlook the Physical Issues
In addition to mental health concerns, spending too much time in front of screens can lead to physical problems, too. For starters, starting at a screen all day can wreak havoc on your eyes. When a teenager spends too long looking at a screen, they can strain their eyes because the constant movement makes it harder to focus.
In addition to damaging the eyes, staring at a digital device all day can cause back and neck problems. It can even lead to poor sleep quality, which could leave your teen feeling tired and make them more prone to getting sick or injured. While feelings of depression and anxiety are important to recognize, don’t ignore the physical problems your teen could have to deal with because of their phones or tablets, either.
How to Talk to Your Teen About Screen Time
As a parent of a teenager, you probably already know it’s not always easy to talk to them – especially about things they don’t want to give up. But, knowing how screen time can impact them, it’s important to set boundaries. That’s especially true if your teen is spending most of their time at home.
Create a schedule that works for everyone, allowing them to use their electronic devices during certain hours of the day and only for a set amount of time. You might get some pushback at first. But, creating a schedule is a great way to be fair. Eventually, your teen will look forward to those times when they have their devices and will know how to handle it when each time is over.
To promote less screen time, encourage your teen to try other things. What are their other interests and hobbies? Or, what’s something you think would love if they tried it? If they have a passion for art, encourage them to create their own art, like a comic book. Do they love music? Suggest an instrument.
Maybe they have gotten into running or strength training. Why not encourage a sport? When your teen really discovers their passion, they’ll be less enamored with their screens. As a result, they can be mentally and physically healthier, and you can take comfort in knowing they aren’t depending on a digital device to find contentment.
If you feel you have exhausted your local resources — and your teen needs more help, contact us about how residential might be able to benefit your family.
The myths of teen boot camps and scared straight programs for troubled and defiant teens
Years ago parents would threaten to send their children, especially defiant and belligerent teens to military school or boot camp.
Then some sheriff’s departments developed Scared Straight programs through their jails.
Inmates would speak to the youth about their experiences, both inside and on the outside, hopefully giving them enough of a jolt to realize they don’t want to be in their shoes.
If you are interested in scared straight programs, sometimes they can be effective with certain teenagers. Check with your local sheriff’s department to see if they offer them. They are becoming more and more scarce – likely because they are non-effective.
In regards to military schools, parents are making false threats since they will be quick to learn that these type of boarding schools are typically a privilege and honor to attend.
Your child will need a good GPA to be accepted as well as be willing to attend. Not to mention, if they are struggling with any type of experimentation of substance use, military campuses are not immune to students bringing in drugs or alcohol.
They will be reprimanded, and like a traditional school – will be expelled within their school policy. However, you will forfeit your tuition with that that typically starts at $25,000.
Boot camps are what parents think about initially. They believe it’s a quick way to teach their teen a lesson – which typically can backfire on them.
They are very difficult to locate at this point. With a lot of negative press as well as very poor results, most have been closed and no longer in operation.
Boot camps were usually a weekend where teens were placed in a military-style environment with rigorous physical exercise in an effort to break your child down.
It is an in-your-face type of discipline that isn’t resolving any of their emotional issues that is causing their negative behavior at home or school.
Many of these teens are already broken – emotionally. They are usually depressed and struggle with low self-esteem, placing them in an environment that only degrades them will likely build more anger and resentment – especially towards the people that put them there – the parents.
We challenge parents to switch places. If you are going through a rough time in your life, whether it be a divorce or a friend that is not treating you well, how would you feel if no one was speaking with you and you had people screaming at you constantly and degrading you as you are struggling just to get by?
Healthy Teen Help Choices
Art therapy helps inspire teens.
Residential therapy, which includes emotional growth programs helps your teen work through their issues. Having conversations with counselors, peers and also participating in activities that can help build their confidence to make better choices is what can help start the recovery process.
Before you think your child needs a good punishment, think about what it will really achieve?
Being a teenager today is not easy.Being a parent is even more of a challenge today – we all have to do our best to make it work and give our kids the best future. Choosing the primitive and punitive road usually isn’t the best decision.
Do you have questions or want to learn more about quality residential therapy? Concerned about how to pay for it? Schools and programs offer financial options that parents have considered.
Contact us today to learn more about teen help programs.