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Teen Help

5 Things Parents Need to Know About Teen Vaping

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 09, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

5 Things Parents Need to Know About Marijuana E-Cigarettes

 

By Jane Parent, Your Teen Magazine

Susan was in her 16-year-old son’s room recently. She discovered a weird looking sort of pen on his dresser. She didn’t know what it was, but she did a little digging and discovered it was a vape pen. “I was shocked to learn that my son could be using this pen to smoke any number of substances, says Susan.” “There was no smell or smoke in his bedroom while I was in the next room. I had no idea.”

Electronic cigarettes in the form of vape pens and cartridges are more popular than ever, especially among high school students. E-cigarette use among teenagers has been rapidly increasing nationally, with more than 32% of 10th graders reporting vaping in the past year, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “The good news is that middle and high school kids understand the health risks of smoking cigarettes,” says Dr. Laura Offutt, founder of online teen health resource Real Talk with Dr. Offutt. “Unfortunately, they’ve also absorbed the marketing message that e-cigarettes are a safer, healthier alternative.”

Marijuana E-Cigarette: Vaping THC To Get High

And teens use vaping devices to do more than just vape nicotine. According to the Yale study, nearly one in five users has also used e-cigarettes for marijuana. Law enforcement officials warn parents that teens are also using these devices looking to experiment with drugs. Beware that e-cigs can be used to vaporize opiates, synthetic substances like flakka (an amphetamine-like drug similar to bath salts), and designer forms of “synthetic  weed” such as K2 and Spice.

How are teens using e-cigarettes for marijuana? E-cigarettes are powered by batteries that activate a heating element when inhaled. The heat vaporizes a liquid nicotine solution contained in a small tube. Hash oil can be substituted for the nicotine solution. Some vendors sell hash oil cartridges. More worrisome, kids are also learning to make their own. “Some kids are dissolving hash oil or THC in glycerin or vegetable oil. Or they steep the leaves in the liquid (like making tea with tea leaves), and then vaporizing that liquid” says Offutt. “Numerous social media outlets have extensive discussion about how to do this. The information is available and accessible online.”

5 Things to Know and Look Out For:

Here are 5 things parents should know about vape pens and signs of vaping weed.

1. Vape pens are a discreet way to use drugs.

“These devices like a ballpoint pen, a USB memory stick, or a stylus,” says Offutt. “And they’re easy to conceal. Some are specifically designed to disguise what they are. Kids can casually use them on the school bus or even in class. And you won’t know they’re getting high because they are smokeless and odorless.” Parents should familiarize themselves with vape pens.

2. Inhaling pot from a vape pen intensifies the user’s “high.”

THC is used in vape pens to get high. THC is the active compound in marijuana responsible for the sensation of being “high.” Studies have found these liquids can be thirty times more concentrated than dry marijuana leaves. “Today’s pot is also much stronger than the pot that parents may have smoked when they were young. And now marijuana plants are specifically bred for higher THC concentration,” says Offutt. “Vaping may deliver a far more potent form of whatever drug is being used. Your teen might not anticipate the intensified side effects and the increased risk of addiction.”

3. Vape pens are easy to acquire.

Federal regulations make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to children under 18. But these regulations don’t prevent teens from buying the devices online. Regardless of age, kids can order a wide selection of vaping and legal weed paraphernalia. The illegal purchase will be conveniently delivered, no questions asked. “If your son is suddenly getting packages delivered at home and is very enthusiastic about getting the mail,” warns Offutt. “This should be a red flag to investigate what he’s buying.”

4. Marijuana is addictive and harmful for developing brains.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, marijuana use interferes with brain development. Usage can cause short-term memory loss, slow learning, decreased sperm count, and lung damage. “It continually amazes me to discover parents who give their blessing to their kid’s pot use. Like it’s no big deal,” says Offutt. “Marijuana is addictive. And today’s marijuana is far more potent and poses a higher risk of addiction, particularly for kids with a family history of addiction.”

5. Watch for physiological symptoms of drug use.

If your teen is using e-cigarettes for pot and has an abuse problem, you may observe side effects. Your teen can experience nosebleeds, dry mouth syndrome, red eyes, and increased appetite. There may also be behavior changes. Red flags include suddenly becoming withdrawn, seclusion beyond what is normal, a different friend group, or erratic behavior.

If parents observe any of the above signs, they may have good reason to suspect that their teen is vaping drugs. In that instance, connect your child with treatment resources for help—before it’s potentially too late.

**This article was republished with permission from Your Teen Magazine.

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If you believe your teen is struggling with substance use, and you have exhausted your local resources, contact us to find out if residential therapy is your next step.

Also check out the parent vaping workshop offered by Your Teen for Parents.

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Teen Depression and Sadness: What Parents Need to Know

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 01, 2019  /   Posted in Bullying, Cyberbullying, Featured Article, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

10 Common Causes of Teen Depression

We are living in a time where teen depression is on the rise. Sadly, we are seeing suicide as the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24.

With today’s digital lives there could be so many reasons.  Are they missing the routine of a real-life social life?  Are they being harassed online?  Or are they watching their friends on social media have a blast while they believe their life is boring or they are simply missing out?

What was true a generation ago is still true today, teens are unpredictable and still difficult to figure out. However depression is a very real emotion.

Adolescence can be a very turbulent and difficult time, even for the most well-adjusted child. Depression strikes teenagers and adults alike, and can have far-reaching implications when kids suffer from emotional difficulties that they aren’t sure how to manage.

After noticing the signs of depression in your teen and helping him to get the treatment he needs, understanding the root of his depression can help to make the situation more manageable for everyone involved.

TeenStress55While this is by no means a comprehensive list of all causes of teen depression, these ten situations can be very common contributing factors to depression.

  1. Academic Stress –(Especially if your teen is applying to colleges). Kids are under an enormous amount of pressure to succeed academically, especially as the costs of higher education rise and more families are reliant upon scholarships to help offset the expense. Stressing over classes, grades and tests can cause kids to become depressed, especially if they’re expected to excel at all costs or are beginning to struggle with their course load.
  2. Social Anxiety or Peer Pressure – During adolescence, teenagers are learning how to navigate the complex and unsettling world of social interaction in new and complicated ways. Popularity is important to most teens, and a lack of it can be very upsetting. The appearance of peer pressure to try illicit drugs, drinking or other experimental behavior can also be traumatic for kids that aren’t eager to give in, but are afraid of damaging their reputation through refusal.
  3. Romantic Problems – When kids become teenagers and enter adolescence, romantic entanglements become a much more prominent and influential part of their lives. From breakups to unrequited affection, there are a plethora of ways in which their budding love lives can cause teens to become depressed.
  4. Traumatic Events – The death of a loved one, instances of abuse or other traumatic events can have a very real impact on kids, causing them to become depressed or overly anxious. In the aftermath of a trauma, it’s wise to keep an eye out for any changes in behavior or signs of depression in your teen.
  5. Separating or Divorcing Parents – Divorced or separated parents might be more common for today’s teens than it was in generations past, but that doesn’t mean that the situation has no effect on their emotional well-being. The dissolution of the family unit or even the divorce of a parent and step-parent can be very upsetting for teens, often leading to depression.
  6. Heredity – Some kids are genetically predisposed to suffer from depression. If a parent or close relative has issues with depression, your child may simply be suffering from a cruel trick of heredity that makes him more susceptible.
  7. FamilyDiscussionFamily Financial Struggles – Your teenager may not be a breadwinner in your household or responsible for balancing the budget, but that doesn’t mean that she’s unaffected by a precarious financial situation within the family. Knowing that money is tight can be a very upsetting situation for teens, especially if they’re worried about the possibility of losing their home or the standard of living they’re accustomed to.
  8. Physical or Emotional Neglect – Though they may seem like fiercely independent beings that want or need nothing from their parents, teenagers still have emotional and physical needs for attention. The lack of parental attention on either level can lead to feelings of depression.
  9. Low Self-Esteem – Being a teenager isn’t easy on the self-esteem. From a changing body to the appearance of pimples, it can seem as if Mother Nature herself is conspiring against an adolescent to negatively affect her level of self-confidence. When the self-esteem level drops below a certain point, it’s not uncommon for teens to become depressed.
  10. Feelings of Helplessness – Knowing that he’s going to be affected on a personal level by things he has no control over can easily throw your teen into the downward spiral of depression. Feelings of helplessness and powerlessness often go hand in hand with the struggle with depression, and can make the existing condition even more severe.

It’s important that you speak to a medical professional or your teen’s doctor about any concerns you have regarding his emotional well-being, especially if you suspect that he’s suffering from depression.

Depression is a very real affliction that requires treatment, and is not something that should be addressed without the assistance of a doctor. You can also try the The Depression Workbook for Teens for insights and more information on mental wellness.

If your teen continues to struggle with depression, don’t hesitate to reach out to local help such as a counselor (therapist). If they refuse to get help or you find it isn’t benefiting them (your teen refuses to engage in the session), contact us to determine if residential therapy would be an option. Exhausting your local resources is always your first path.

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The Depression Workbook for Teens: Tools to Improve Your Mood, Build Self-Esteem, and Stay Motivated

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 01, 2019  /   Posted in Bullying, Cyberbullying, Featured Book, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

The Depression Workbook for Teens: Tools to Improve Your Mood, Build Self-Esteem, and Stay Motivated

By Katie Hurley, LCSW

Don’t face depression alone―advanced tools for teens.

You can feel better and The Depression Workbook for Teens is going to help you do it. Drawing on the most effective and up-to-date techniques―including cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness―this depression workbook is filled with helpful exercises designed specifically for teens that will help you conquer depression. Develop the skills you need to manage your emotional wellbeing and bring happiness back into your life.

Get information all about depression―its symptoms, causes, and risk factors―so you can identify the differences between normal stress and depression. There is a light at the end of the tunnel―The Depression Workbook for Teens will show you the way.

The Depression Workbook for Teens includes:

  • Just for teens―Tackle your depression head-on using a depression workbook filled with strategies written with your unique needs (and time constraints) in mind.
  • Useful tools―With quizzes, journaling prompts, conversation starters, and more, you’ll discover simple skill-building exercises to improve your mood and build your self-esteem.
  • Practical problem solving―Find ways to work through the challenges you’re facing―including fighting with your parents, getting up in the morning, struggling with homework, and more.

The Depression Workbook for Teens gives you the helping hand you need to get through this difficult time.

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About Katie Hurley: Katie is a child and adolescent psychotherapist, parenting expert, and writer. Hurley is the author of No More Mean Girls and The Happy Kid Handbook. Her work can be found in The Washington Post, PBS Parents, US News and World Report, and Psychology Today.

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Parenting The New Teen In The Age Of Anxiety

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 09, 2019  /   Posted in Bullying, Cyberbullying, Digital Parenting, Featured Book, Mental Health, Parenting Books, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help

Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety: A Complete Guide to Your Child’s Stressed, Depressed, Expanded, Amazing Adolescence

There are no retakes when it comes to digital communication, so it’s imperative that we consider how to tap into empathy and compassion from behind the screen.

By Dr. John Duffy

Parenting is more difficult and complicated than it has ever been. Our kids today are psychologically and emotionally burdened by social media, unreasonable academic and social stressors, and an unprecedented stream of information. They are exposed to the harshest elements of the world much too soon. The upside is that they have this thoughtful, compassionate worldview and sense of justice that we may have lacked. The downside is that our kids are in an undue degree of psychic pain. They suffer far more anxiety, depression, attention issues, and suicidal ideation than any generation preceding them.

More than ever, our kids need us to help them make sense of, and integrate, all they take in, starting at a very early age. To do that, we must know and truly understand their world.

This book is a complete guide to all of the issues that your child, teen and young adult will face.

So when your kid is overwhelmed (and your kid is going to feel overwhelmed), when you kid is exposed to too much (and your kid will be exposed to too much), she will know: I have mom and/or dad, and they are my constant, they are my solid. I can go to them and they are going to hear me out, without judgment. I know that. I know that I can talk to them and they are going to be there for me unequivocally. In their complicated world, with all of this stimuli, with all of this identity traffic, kids need some compass. They need you to be that compass.

Inside Parenting Inside the New Teen In the Age of Anxiety:

Learn about the “New Teen” and how to adjust your parenting approach. Kids are growing up with nearly unlimited access to social media and the internet, and unprecedented academic, social, and familial stressors. Starting as early as eight years old, children are exposed to information, thought, and emotion that they are developmentally unprepared to process. As a result, saving the typical “teen parenting” strategies for thirteen-year-olds is now years too late.

Urgent advice for parents of teens. Dr. John Duffy’s parenting book is a new and necessary guide that addresses this hidden phenomenon of the changing teenage brain. Dr. Duffy, a nationally recognized expert in parenting for nearly twenty-five years, offers this book as a guide for parents raising children who are growing up quickly and dealing with unresolved adolescent issues that can lead to anxiety and depression.

Unprecedented psychological suffering among our young and why it is occurring. A shift has taken place in how and when children develop. Because of the exposure they face, kids are emotionally overwhelmed at a young age, often continuing to search for a sense of self well into their twenties. Paradoxically, Dr. Duffy recognizes the good that comes with these challenges, such as the sense of justice instilled in teenagers starting at a young age.

Readers of this book will:

  • Sort through the overwhelming circumstances of today’s teens and better understand the changing landscape of adolescence
  • Come away with a revised, conscious parenting plan more suited to addressing the current needs of the New Teen
  • Discover the joy in parenting again by reclaiming the role of your teen’s ally, guide, and consultant

Order today on Amazon.

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Teen Vaping Addiction: How to Help a Teen Stop Vaping

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 21, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Article, Parenting Teens, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Teen Vaping Addiction: Tips on How to Help Your Teen Stop Vaping

By Sandra Gordon, Your Teen Magazine

Using e-cigarettes (vaping) is now a teen epidemic. Between 2017 and 2018, e-cigarette use among middle schoolers increased by 48 percent and among high schoolers by 78 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. More than a quarter of all high school students are frequent e-cigarette users, with 28 percent vaping more than 20 times per month.

About a year ago, the trend hit home for Keri Williams, 42, a banking business systems consultant in Charlotte, North Carolina. That’s when the mom of five discovered that her children Amias, 16, and Kayla, 15, had been vaping on and off for about a year using a popular device called JUUL.

When Williams found out both of her teens were vaping, she made them keep their bedroom doors open unless they were changing clothes and took away their cellphones and media for one month. “I wanted to ‘go big’ so they understood just how serious this was,” Williams says.

She was right to be concerned. “Almost all e-cigarettes contain nicotine, even those that claim they don’t, because there’s no FDA oversight of the manufacturing,” says Jennifer Hobbs Folkenroth, national senior director, tobacco control at American Lung Association.

Nicotine is highly addictive; it’s what gets users hooked, Folkenroth says. Nicotine exposure during adolescence can harm a teen’s developing brain. The inhaled aerosol also contains other potentially harmful chemicals, such as acrolein and diacetyl, both of which have been linked to serious lung damage.

How to Get Teenagers to Stop Vaping

Many schools are implementing policies aimed at reducing vaping in school, such as employing bathroom monitors and imposing consequences like suspension or even expulsion. But these measures may not be enough, especially if your teenager is becoming a more frequent—and addicted—user. If you suspect your teen is vaping, there are some things that parents should do.

1. Get your teenager talking.

Vaping is easier to hide because it doesn’t leave a telltale odor of traditional cigarettes or visible secondhand emissions, says Steven Schroeder, M.D., director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California San Francisco.

To figure out what’s up with your teen, create an environment where it’s easier for your teen to talk about it, Dr. Schroeder says. Rather than asking your teen directly (You’re JUULing, aren’t you?), ask nonjudgmental questions, maybe while you’re driving somewhere, such as: I keep hearing about JUULing. Are your friends doing that?; Is it popular at school?; What do you think about it?; and How safe do you think it is?

2. Weave in the facts.

If you get the sense from your conversations that your teen is vaping, even just occasionally, such as at parties, talk about the risks. Be prepared to hear that JUULing isn’t a big deal.

“Many teens know cigarettes are bad for you but think vaping is inconsequential,” Dr. Schroeder says. Many teens don’t realize, for example, that all JUUL pods contain nicotine—as much as a pack of cigarettes.

Also, appeal to your teen’s natural sense of rebellion. “Talk to teens about how the vaping industry is manipulating them,” Folkenroth says—for example, by making JUUL pods in flavors that appeal to young consumers, such as mango, crème, and fruit. (Under pressure from the Food and Drug Administration, JUUL recently agreed to eliminate some flavors from retail stores, but they are still available online.)

You might say, for example: “The company is trying to make JUULing cool so you’ll get hooked and buy more JUUL pods. But shouldn’t you be the master of your own body and health? You’re the one who makes the decision about what goes in.”

3. Help your teen get help.

About a month after she banned vaping, text messages on her teens’ phones clued Williams in to the fact that they were vaping again. Determined to stop them, she ordered nicotine urine tests on Amazon and tested each teen daily until they were clean. Since then, she’s been randomly testing them a few times a month.

Parents can feel lost and even a little desperate when it comes to stopping vaping, but the American Lung Association cautions against this kind of screening, instead favoring education, consistent parent-teen communication, positive support, and parents connecting teens with intervention or cessation programs.

This is Quitting is a smoking cessation program developed by Truth Initiative in collaboration with Mayo Clinic that offers a texting program to help quit e-cigarettes. Teens can enroll by texting “QUIT” to 706-222-QUIT. The program delivers tailored messages via text that give age-appropriate quitting advice.

The American Lung Association also offers several programs to help educate teens on e-cigarette use, including Not On Tobacco (a voluntary youth cessation program) and Intervention for Nicotine Dependence: Education, Prevention, Tobacco and Health. To learn more, call 1-800-LUNG-USA or visit lung.org.

You may even send your teen to the pediatrician. “We know for combustible cigarettes, if your physician tells you not to smoke, it doubles your chance of quitting,” Dr. Schroeder says. “Just the authority of a pediatrician talking to a teen about not vaping in the absence of his parents might be helpful.”

For more great information on this topic, enroll in the Your Teen Workshop on Vaping, featuring a panel of experts discussing the facts and answering real parents’ questions.

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If you feel your teen is at-risk and you have exhausted all your local resources, contact us for information on residential therapy. Be proactive before a crisis happens.

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Middle School Matters: The 10 Key Skills Kids Need and How Parents Can Help

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 06, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Book, Parenting Books, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

Middle School Matters: The 10 Key Skills Kids Need to Thrive in Middle School and Beyond–and How Parents Can Help, author Phyllis Fagell

A counselor and popular Washington Post contributor offers a new take on grades 6-8 as a distinct developmental phase–and the perfect time to set up kids to thrive.

Middle school is its own important, distinct territory, and yet it’s either written off as an uncomfortable rite of passage or lumped in with other developmental phases. Based on her many years working in schools, professional counselor Phyllis Fagell sees these years instead as a critical stage that parents can’t afford to ignore (and though “middle school” includes different grades in various regions, Fagell maintains that the ages make more of a difference than the setting).

Though the transition from childhood to adolescence can be tough for kids, this time of rapid physical, intellectual, moral, social, and emotional change is a unique opportunity to proactively build character and confidence.

Fagell helps parents use the middle school years as a low-stakes training ground to teach kids the key skills they’ll need to thrive now and in the future, including making good friend choices, negotiating conflict, regulating their own emotions, be their own advocates, and more.

To answer parents’ most common questions and struggles with middle school-aged children, Fagell combines her professional and personal expertise with stories and advice from prominent psychologists, doctors, parents, educators, school professionals, and middle schoolers themselves.

Order your copy of Middle School Matters today from Amazon.

 

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2019’s States with the Most At-Risk Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 17, 2019  /   Posted in Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Are you struggling with your teenager?

You’re not alone!

Growing up can be hard. Without a stable home, positive role models and tools for success, many young Americans fall behind their peers and experience a rocky transition to adulthood. Today, about one in nine individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither working nor attending school. Others suffer from poor health conditions that hinder their ability to develop physically or socially.

Such issues not only affect young people later in life, but they also prove harmful to society as a whole. For instance, more than 70 percent of young adults today are ineligible to join the U.S. military because they fail academic, moral or health qualifications. Research shows that when youth grow up in environments with economic problems and a lack of role models, they’re more at risk for poverty, early pregnancy and violence, especially in adulthood.

To determine the places where young Americans are not faring as well as others in the same age group, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 15 key indicators of youth risk. Our data set ranges from share of disconnected youth to labor force participation rate among youth to youth poverty rate.

States with the Most At-Risk Youth States with the Least At-Risk Youth
1 Louisiana 42 Rhode Island
2 District of Columbia 43 Connecticut
3 Mississippi 44 Virginia
4 Arkansas 45 Maryland
5 Nevada 46 Hawaii
6 West Virginia 47 New Hampshire
7 Oregon 48 Utah
8 Wyoming 49 Minnesota
9 Oklahoma 50 Massachusetts
10 New Mexico 51 New Jersey

Key Stats

  • New Mexico, West Virginia and Louisiana have the highest share of disconnected youth, 19.00 percent, which is 3.2 times higher than in North Dakota, the lowest at 6.00 percent.
  • Louisiana has the highest share of youth without a high school diploma, 17.80 percent, which is 2.4 times higher than in Hawaii, the lowest at 7.40 percent.
  • Oklahoma has the highest share of overweight or obese youth, 61.50 percent, which is 1.9 times higher than in Massachusetts, the lowest at 32.10 percent.
  • Vermont has the highest share of youth using drugs in the past month, 40.32 percent, which is 2.5 times higher than in North Dakota, the lowest at 16.18 percent.
  • Nevada has the highest share of homeless youth, 0.56 percent, which is 18.7 times higher than in Mississippi, the lowest at 0.03 percent.

Read the full report for the findings, insight into the future of America’s young population and a description of the methodology.

If you are at your wit’s end with your teenager and have exhausted your local resources, it might be time to consider residential therapy. Contact us for more information.

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Teens Use Burner Phones To Hide Online Behavior From Parents

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 12, 2019  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Featured Article, Internet Safety, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

Are you a parent that believes taking your teen’s device is a punishment?

Think again! This is one of the reasons burner phones are on the rise among young people.

As a tech-savvy parent, you’ve established rules with your teens about responsible cell phone usage and drawn up a detailed family contract. And by all accounts it seems to be working.

But teenagers can be ingenious about getting around the rules, and many of today’s teens turn to burner phones as a workaround to parental limitations. Here’s how to discover if your child has found this alternative, plus some tips on curbing the habit.

What Is a Burner Phone?

Burner phones are cheap, prepaid mobile phones you can discard once you’re done using them. They offer access to Wi-Fi and a phone number that can’t be traced to the individual using the device.

There are a few good reasons to use a burner phone. If you’re buying or selling something on Craigslist, for instance, having an untraceable number offers a degree of safety when communicating with strangers.

However, their anonymity and low cost make burner phones ideal for teenagers looking for a way to sneak around behind their parents’ backs. And that anonymity can get kids into problematic situations where they don’t have a parental lifeline to keep them safe.

Why Do Teens Turn to These Disposable Devices?

Teens consider cell phones a virtual lifeline, and many experience fear of missing out (FOMO) without them. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey found some eye-opening stats about teens and social media:

  • 81% say social media makes them feel more connected.
  • Approximately 2/3 of teens say online friends give them support in difficult times.

 Losing cell phone access as a punishment—and effectively losing access to their online networks—is one reason why teens may acquire a burner phone. But they might also buy second phones to maintain secret social media accounts. A finsta (fake Instagram), for example, is a private account where kids post content that only certain people have access to.

Teens may also turn to burners if they’re engaging in activities they think parents won’t approve of—getting involved in drugs or alcohol, or pursuing romantic relationships.

Some of these habits can be dangerous, putting kids in a place where they can be taken advantage of. Burner phones can also create a space for cyberbullying to go unnoticed, and thus unchecked. 

How Can You Know Your Child Is Using a Burner Phone?

If you’ve ever taken away your teen’s phone, you’re familiar with them pleading to get it back. If they suddenly stop doing so, that’s a hint they may be using a burner phone. Here are a few other ways to discover they’ve gotten a second phone:

  • Look for a dip in data use. Check your wireless carrier for overall data usage and details about specific applications. A decrease in visits to your teen’s favorite social media site may point to use of a burner phone.
  • Check your child’s other apps. Burner phones aren’t the only way to communicate anonymously; there are multiple apps that let you set up a temporary number. If your child has an app like Burner or Hushed, it’s possible they’re doing something that requires anonymity—which could be a red flag. 

What Can You Do to Manage the Behavior?

  1. Maintain consistent rules of use. If you’ve gone to the trouble of setting ground rules, then stick with them and make sure the consequences for breaking them are fair and applicable to everyone in the family. Consistency equals credibility. 
  1. Help your teen set boundaries. Encourage your child to understand and embrace core values that will drive healthy online interactions. If your child can feel okay about posting online because they always consider how it will reflect upon them first, they’ll have less interest in setting up secret accounts.
  1. Reward honesty. Let your kids know they can come to you when they’ve made a mistake online, such as going to an inappropriate website. Being able to do so without risking punishment will maintain the level of communication that pays dividends in all kinds of parent-child interactions—not just those related to cell phones.

At the end of the day, this burner phone trend is more about behaviors than devices. If you can set clear expectations and have open conversations about smart phone conduct, you’ll see a lot more progress than if you focus solely on managing your kids’ access to a phone.

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Contributor: Hilary Bird is a digital journalist who writes about the things that fascinate her the most: relationships, technology, and how they impact each other. As more and more people become more and more reliant on their tech devices, Hilary wants to help them stay safe and understand how these devices will reshape the way we communicate.

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The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 07, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Book, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens
Renowned neurologist Dr. Frances E. Jensen offers a revolutionary look at the brains of teenagers, dispelling myths and offering practical advice for teens, parents and teachers.

The Teenage Brain demystifies the teen brain by presenting new findings, dispelling widespread myths and providing practical advice for negotiating this difficult and dynamic life stage for both adults and teens.

Dr. Frances E. Jensen is chair of the department of neurology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. As a mother, teacher, researcher, clinician, and frequent lecturer to parents and teens, she is in a unique position to explain to readers the workings of the teen brain. In The Teenage Brain, Dr. Jensen brings to readers the astonishing findings that previously remained buried in academic journals.

The root myth scientists believed for years was that the adolescent brain was essentially an adult one, only with fewer miles on it. Over the last decade, however, the scientific community has learned that the teen years encompass vitally important stages of brain development.  Samples of some of the most recent findings include:

  • Teens are better learners than adults because their brain cells more readily “build” memories. But this heightened adaptability can be hijacked by addiction, and the adolescent brain can become addicted more strongly and for a longer duration than the adult brain.
  • Studies show that girls’ brains are a full two years more mature than boys’ brains in the mid-teens, possibly explaining differences seen in the classroom and in social behavior.
  • Adolescents may not be as resilient to the effects of drugs as we thought. Recent experimental and human studies show that the occasional use of marijuana, for instance, can cause lingering memory problems even days after smoking, and that long-term use of pot impacts later adulthood IQ.
  • Multi-tasking causes divided attention and has been shown to reduce learning ability in the teenage brain. Multi-tasking also has some addictive qualities, which may result in habitual short attention in teenagers.
  • Emotionally stressful situations may impact the adolescent more than it would affect the adult: stress can have permanent effects on mental health and can to lead to higher risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression.

Dr. Jensen gathers what we’ve discovered about adolescent brain function, wiring, and capacity and explains the science in the contexts of everyday learning and multitasking, stress and memory, sleep, addiction, and decision-making.  In this groundbreaking yet accessible book, these findings also yield practical suggestions that will help adults and teenagers negotiate the mysterious world of adolescent development.

Read an except of The Teenage Brain here.

Order your copy on Amazon today.

Visit our P.U.R.E. Library for more parenting book suggestions.

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What Parents Need To Know About Juuling

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 07, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Article, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Keeping up with teens today, it’s not easy.

From vaping to juuling, we’re here to educate you.

Photo credit: YourTeenMag.

By Sandra Gorden, contributor for Your Teen Magazine

While searching for my iPhone earbuds in my 16-year-old daughter’s bedside table, I came across a coin purse with tiny cartridges that look like a computer thumb drive. When Jane got home from school, I asked her what they were. “They’re Penelope’s,” Jane said. “I’m holding them for her.”

That seemed plausible. Penelope is a friend whose mom is very strict. But I still didn’t know what they were, and I thought: This can’t be good.

“What do you do with them?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Jane said.

Slowly, we got to the bottom of it. They were Juul pods, nicotine cartridges for the latest, trendy version of an e-cigarette.

“The whole school does it,” Jane said. “It’s not a big deal.”

In fact, more than 3 million middle school and high school students in the U.S. use e-cigarettes—also known as “vaping.” And the numbers continue to grow every year. Suddenly, I realized that Jane and her friends were among them.

What is Juuling?

E-cigarettes are typically battery-powered devices that heat a liquid (“juice”) that turns into an aerosol that teens inhale into their lungs. Until this point, I thought vaping involved using a vaping pen, a small round device with a mouth piece on the end. But Juuling, as it’s popularly known, is much easier to hide. Juul is a sleek, rectangular vaporizing device that delivers a concentrated form of nicotine. It looks like a USB flash drive, and can even be plugged into a laptop to charge.

According to the Juul website, each cartridge contains 0.7 mL with 5 percent nicotine by weight. One Juul pod is equivalent to smoking one pack of cigarettes or 200 puffs. But the biggest draw for teens is that the pods come in fun flavors, such as cucumber, mango, and mint, says Koorosh Rassekh, an addiction therapist and founder of Evo Health and Wellness, an outpatient addiction treatment program in Venice, California.

What are the Risks of Vapor Smoking?

While teens may believe that vaping is relatively safe, there are numerous health risks. “You can get addicted to e-cigarettes,” says Bill Blatt, director of Tobacco Programs for the American Lung Association. Like smoking a regular cigarette, the nicotine from Juul or other e-cigarettes gets into teens’ lungs and bloodstream and keeps them coming back for more.

And because the smoke isn’t as noticeable as regular cigarettes, teens can take a draw from their Juul and put it in their pocket without the teacher seeing it. Forget about running to the restroom: “They can smoke in class,” Blatt says.

The FDA has banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, so Juul pods and other vaping devices can’t legally be sold to them. But teens still find ways to get them, so parents need to address this trend.

How to Talk to Your Teens about Juuling:

To talk to your teen about Juuling, vaping, or any other substance use, Rassekh offers four helpful tips for having productive conversations.

1. Don’t lecture.

Just saying, Don’t Juul (or vape) because it’s bad for you, doesn’t help. (Guilty!) Lecturing about its harmfulness will only compel your teen to keep it a secret from you, Rassekh says.

2. Be open to the conversation.

Not every teen will be tempted to Juul or vape. But it’s worth having the conversation if you suspect they may be. In my daughter Jane’s case, she may truly be holding the cartridges for Penelope. But I suspect that she too is Juuling because her friends are—and like many teens, Jane lives for her friends. “The risk of being ostracized and the social benefit can motivate teens to Juul and try other substances,” Rassekh says.

3. Try to understand why your teen is Juuling.

Teens can be tempted to Juul for many reasons, including not wanting to be bullied, peer pressure, or getting a break from the rigors of the school day. “To get to the bottom of any substance use, ask yourself, What is impacting my teen’s self-esteem negatively?” Rassekh says.

Once you understand why your teen might be drawn to Juuling or vaping, then you can begin to address your teen’s vulnerabilities and build the resilience to counterbalance it.

4. Get outside help.

If your teen has developed a nicotine habit in any form, it may be time to have a pediatrician or therapist talk with them. You can also call the Center for Disease Control’s national tobacco quit line, 800-784-8669, for more guidance from their professional counselors.

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Sign-up for the parent workshop for more information on vaping.

If you suspect your teen is juuling or their behavior is escalating and you have exhausted your local resources, contact us to discuss if residential therapy might be an option.

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