Internet Addiction of the Young and Not so Young

AddictionParents today have no shortage of things to worry about when it comes to the online world in which their kids are growing up. From online predators, to scam artists and explicit pages, the web houses many threats to today’s youth. However, in addition to these known digital dangers, parents should also be wary of the long-term damage their children are doing to themselves every time they place themselves in front of their laptop, tablet, or other mobile device.

With the average U.S. internet user spending 32 hours online per month, it’s evident that the digital revolution shows no signs of slowing anytime soon, and sadly, our children’s minds and bodies could eventually pay the price for it. Read on for an overview of just some of the effects our children—from toddlers to teens—may have to deal with in the future.

Impaired Vision

Sure bad vision and corrective eyewear are by no means new concepts, but unlike past generations who only had to worry about genetics or age sabotaging their sight, adolescents now have to consider how their extended periods of screen time might affect their eyes. Bright, beaming screens reflecting onto our faces for the majority of the day is far from healthy. Recent studies suggest that approximately 17% of all eye exams performed in a year were initiated due to indicators such as light sensitivity, double or blurred vision, eye strain and even dry eye—symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome. Sure, the majority of us are all exposed to inordinate amounts of digital screens daily, but today’s youth have never known a world without it. Cell phones, tablets and laptops have always been a part of their life, and most likely always will be, leaving them with an entire lifetime of eyestrain and exhaustion.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Another physical impairment the children of today have to look forward to in the future is the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome. Characterized as a nerve dysfunction, symptoms include numbness, tingling and muscle weakness in the hand, wrist and fingers. Hours of typing away on keyboards, phones and other gadgets is one of the main causes of the wear and tear. Numerous people already show signs of the disorder and as time goes on it’s likely only to get worse—as time spent online increases. Before, it was bad enough that someone was subjected to this from 9-5 while they were at work, but now everything from classes to games and even meetings are conducted via virtual means and require us to subject our and bodies to this overuse.

This is especially hard on children who have been dealing with this since these advancing methods since they could read and write. Time will only tell how soon they will start to feel the effects of this excessive action.

Inactivity

There’s no denying that the more time we spend sedentarily staring into a screen, the less time we are allowing ourselves to exercise and be fit. Sure some people are still disciplined enough to unplug, get up and DO SOMETHING active, but, obviously this isn’t always the case. And children will follow your lead, so if they see you coming home from work and planting yourself behind a sea of screens rather than enjoying the day, odds are they’ll do the same. This can be detrimental to your child in the long run—not only will they increase their chances of gaining weight, they will also risk weakening their bones—which can prove problematic the older they get.

Overview

Now, this is not to say that all online activity or screen time is a bad thing; it can actually be quite helpful and efficient. The digital revolution has streamlined many activities and practices, we just have to maintain a healthy balance and not abuse our gadgets and technology. As our children and teens age, their bodies will and minds will face obstacles with which we never had to deal—which may cause issues in terms of insurance coverage and health care in their adult lives.

As more and more schools and businesses move online and embrace the digital age—it’s important to give yourself time to unwind, or risk becoming a liability.

Contributor: Carol Wilson

Teens Struggling with Substance Abuse

With summer about here and teens with more free time, parents need to be aware of what today’s latest statistics are with drug use.

Yes, teen substance abuse, according to the latest study, is up 33%. TeenSubstanceAbuse

What does this say to parents of teenagers?

Are the parents too trusting of the teens or are the teens too smart for the parents?

Are you still digesting that?

Let’s understand this.

One in four teens (24 percent) reports having misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime (up from 18 percent in 2008 to 24 percent in 2012), which translates to about 5 million teens. That is a 33 percent increase over a five-year period.  -According to Drugfree.org

That is a lot teens using illegal prescription drugs to get high or alter their moods.

Where are they getting these drugs from? 

Parents, grandparents, a friend’s home or simply buying them off the street.   This isn’t  blame game it is time to get a grasp on it and communicate to your kids about the risks of prescription medicine when it is not taken for the reasons it is prescribed for by a doctor.  Sometimes it takes a near death of a friend to make your child wake-up, let’s just hope it is not the end of someone’s life.  The attitude that it can’t happen to me is common, and it is followed by a parent’s denial that their child would use drugs.

Communication and education.

This is a nationwide problem.  Go to www.drugfree.org/medicineabuseproject and educate yourself and your family. Take the Pledge with your family to end medicine abuse, before it’s too late.  Then go to www.stopmedicineabuse.org and educate yourself and your kids about the dangers of over-the-counter medicine (OTC) abuse.  OTC are potentially deadly can be extremely harmful to your teens also.

Have a conversation with your teen, don’t wait for a confrontation.  As the report also stated, parents seems to lack concern about prescription drug use in comparison to getting caught or using such drugs as crack or cocaine or other illegal drugs, as follows:

Almost one in four teens (23 percent) say their parents don’t care as much if they are caught using Rx drugs without a doctor’s prescription, compared to getting caught with illegal drugs. – According to Drugfree.org

 

Drug use (substance abuse) is a serious cry for help, and making your teen feel ashamed or embarrassed can make the problem worse. Some common behavior changes you may notice if your teenager is abusing drugs and alcohol are:

  • Violent outbursts, rage, disrespectful behavior
  • Poor or dropping grades
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Skin abrasions, track marks
  • Missing curfew, running away, truancy
  • Bloodshot eyes, distinct “skunky” odor on clothing and skin
  • Missing jewelry, money
  • New friends
  • Depression, apathy, withdrawal, disengaged from the family
  • Reckless behavior

Tips to help prevent substance abuse:

  1. Communication is the key to prevention.  Whenever an opportunity arises about the risks of drinking and driving or the dangers of using drugs,  take it to start a conversation.  Remember parents, it is important to be a parent first – friendship will come in time.
  2. Have a conversation not a confrontation.  If you suspect your teen is using drugs, talk to them.  Don’t judge them, talk to them about the facts of the dangers of substance abuse.  If your teen isn’t opening up to you, be sure you find an adolescent therapist that can help.
  3. Addict in the family?  Do you have an addict in your family?  Sadly many families have been effected by someone that has allowed drugs to take over their lives.  With this, it is a reminder to your teen that you want them to have bright future filled with happiness.  The last thing you want for them is to end up like ____.
  4. Don’t be a parent in denial.  There is no teenager that is immune to drug abuse.  No matter how smart your teen is, or athletic they are, they are at risk if they start using.  I firmly believe that keeping  your teen constructively busy, whether it is with sports, music or other hobbies they have, you will be less at risk for them to want to experiment.  However don’t be in the dark thinking that your teen is pulling a 4.0 GPA and on the varsity football that they couldn’t be dragged down by peer pressure.  Go back to number one – talk, talk, talk – remind your teen how proud you are of them, and let them know that you are always available if they feel they are being pressured to do or try something they don’t want to.
  5. Do you know what your teen is saying?  Listen or watch on texts or emails for code words for certain drug lingo. Skittling, Tussing, Skittles, Robo-tripping, Red Devils, Velvet, Triple C, C-C-C-, Robotard are some of the names kids use for cough and cold medication abuse.  Weed, Pot, Ganja, Mary Jane, Grass, Chronic, Buds, Blunt, Hootch, Jive stick, Ace, Spliff, Skunk, Smoke, Dubie, Flower, Zig Zag are all slang for marijuana.
  6. 6.     Leftovers.  Are there empty medicine wrappers or bottles, burn marks on their clothes or rug, ashes, stench, etc in their room or if they own a car, in their car? Teens (and tweens) either take several pills or smash them so all of it is released at once.  Be sure to check all pockets, garbage cans, cars, closets, under beds, etc. for empty wrappers and other evidence of drug use.  Where are your prescription drugs?  Have you counted them lately?
  7. Body language. Tune into changes in your teen’s behavior. Changing peer groups, altering their physical appearance and/or lack of hygiene, eating or sleeping patterns changing, hostile and uncooperative attitude (defiance), missing money or other valuables from the home, sneaking out of the house, etc.
  8. 8.     Access to alcohol.  Look around your home, is there liquor that is easily accessible?  Teens admit getting alcohol is easy-and the easiest place to get it is in their home.  Know what you have in the house and if you suspect your teen is drinking, lock it up!  Talk to them about the risks of drinking, especially if they are driving. 
  9. Seal the deal.  Have your teen sign a contract to never drink and drive. Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) www.saddonline.com provides a free online contract to download. It may help them pause just the second they need to not get behind that wheel.
  10. Set the example, be the example.  What many parents don’t realize is that you are the leading role model for your teen.  If your teen sees you smoking or drinking frequently, what is the message you are sending?  Many parents will have a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage, however the teen needs to understand you are the adult, and there is a reason that the legal drinking age is 21.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

Teen Drug Use: Warning Signs If Your Teen is Using

TeenDrugUse5This is a difficult question that many parents have to face on a daily basis. Parents who spend a great deal of time with their teenagers are often tuned into what is normal behavior and what is not.

However, even parents who are actively involved in the daily activities of their teenagers may overlook – or subconsciously deny – the earliest signs of a substance abuse problem.

Some of the clues that your teenager may exhibit when using drugs or alcohol are fairly subtle, but others are rather obvious:

• Many hours spent alone, especially in their room; persistent isolation from the rest of the family. This is particular suspicious in a youngster who had not been a loner until now.

• Resistance to taking with or confiding in parents, secretiveness, especially in a teenager who had previously been open. Be sure that your teenager is not being secretive because every time he tries to confide in you, you jump on him or break his confidence.

• There is marked change for the worse in performance and attendance at school and/or job or other responsibilities as well as in dress, hygiene, grooming, frequent memory lapses, lack of concentration, and unusual sleepiness.

• A change of friends; from acceptable to unacceptable.

• Pronounced mood swings with irritability, hostile outbursts, and rebelliousness. Your teenager may seem untrustworthy, insincere or even paranoid.

• Lying , usually in order to cover up drinking or drug using behavior as well as sources of money and possessions; stealing, shoplifting, or encounters with the police.

• Abandonment of wholesome activities such as sports, social service and other groups, religious services, teen programs, hobbies, and even involvement in family life.

• Unusual physical symptoms such as dilated or pinpoint pupils, bloodshot eyes, frequent nosebleeds, changes in appetite, digestive problems, excessive yawning, and the shakes.

These are just a few of the warning signs that can be recognized.

• Be careful not to jump to the conclusion that your teenager may be using when you see such behavior.
• Evaluate the situation.
• Talk to your teenager.
• Try to spend time with her so that she feels that she can trust you.
• By creating a home that is nurturing, she will understand that despite of unhealthy choices that she will always get the love and moral support that she deserves.
• Building a strong relationship with your teenager now will mean that in time of crises your love, support, wisdom, and experience won’t be shut out of your teenager’s decision making.
• If you have a suspicion that your teenager is involved in the use of drugs or alcohol, don’t hesitate to bring the subject up.

The sooner the problem is identified and treated, the better the chances that your teenager’s future will be safeguarded. Raising the subject will be easier if you already have good communication in the family. Discuss the ways in which you can seek help together. An evaluation by a substance abuse professional may be the key to understanding what is really going on with your teenager.

Contributor: Shawnda Burns, LCSW

Visit http://www.helpyourteens.com if you feel you are at your wit’s end and have exhausted all your local resources.

Dangers of Over the Counter Drug Abuse and Teens

Dangers of Over the Counter Drug Abuse
Via: Rehab International

Teen Internet Addiction: Facebook Addict – Warning Signs and Treatment Tips

Does your teen’s life revolve around Facebook?

The Faculty of Psychology at the University of Bergen in Norway has found that Facebook addiction is real, and younger Facebook users, including teens, are the most susceptible to addiction.

Facebook addiction, like any addiction, has noticeably detrimental effects. It interferes with a person’s day-to-day life and causes him or her to neglect responsibilities. For your teen, this could mean that Facebook dependence could interfere with academic performance and have a negative impact on your child’s relationships with family members and friends. With some research linking excessive social media use to depression in teens, Facebook addiction could even take a toll on your teen’s mental health.

The researchers at the University of Bergen have developed a Facebook addiction scale that helps determine whether someone is unhealthily dependent on Facebook.

Here are some of the warning signs that could indicate that your teen is addicted to Facebook, according to their research:

1. Your teen spends an excessive amount of time on Facebook and plans his or her day around using the social media site.
2. Your son or daughter’s Facebook use has steadily increased since he or she began using the website.
3. Facebook seems to be a means of escaping from the pressures of everyday life for your teen.
4. When Facebook time is limited, your child becomes agitated and upset.
5. Homework and studying takes a backseat to Facebook, and your child’s grades suffer. His or her dreams of getting into an Ivy League college have fallen by the wayside. Facebook is now your teen’s top priority.

Since Facebook addiction is a relatively recent phenomenon, there isn’t much research that indicates how to treat it. Researchers have been aware of internet addiction, which is similar in many respects to Facebook addiction, for a while.

If you want to help treat your son or daughter’s Facebook addiction, you might want to try out some of these strategies, which are based on the findings of internet addiction researchers at the University of California, San Francisco:

1. Sit down with your teen and come up with a list of all of his or her favorite activities that aren’t related to Facebook. Take the list out whenever your child has some free time, and encourage him or her to take part in the activities on the list.
2. Set time limits for your teen’s internet use. If your teen’s only able to spend forty-five minutes on the computer each evening, it’ll be rather difficult for him or her to stay addicted to Facebook. If you try out this strategy, you can expect that your teen won’t be very happy at first. Just remember that you’re the parent, you’re in control, and you’re doing what’s best for your child.
3. Reward your teen for decreased Facebook use. Each week or month your child uses Facebook appropriately, reward him or her with a book, movie, mp3, trip to the museum, or other incentive. This will help encourage healthy internet habits and encourage interest in other forms of entertainment that are separate from Facebook.
4. If your teen’s Facebook addiction is particularly worrisome, consider therapy and medication options. Certain types of medication have worked wonders for people with internet addiction. Talk to your family doctor about treatment in the form of medication, and consider setting up an appointment for your teen to meet with a therapist.

Facebook addiction is a real problem. If you think your teen is dependent on Facebook, it’s your job to be proactive about it and nip the dependence in the bud. The life of a teenager should be exciting and full of opportunities. So, don’t let any sort of addiction hinder your child’s growth into a healthy and happy adult.

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Parenting At Risk Teens: From Home to Homeroom

Parenting teens is a challenge today.

Schools and parents today need to work together to help prevent teen drug use.

Fast Facts: Preventing Teen OTC Cough Medicine Abuse – From Home to Homeroom

A Wake Up Call for Parents

  • Thirty-three percent of American high school teens know someone who has abused cough medicine, a wake up call for those parents who think that their teen is not affected or being exposed to the issue.
  • Six percent of high school teens admit to abusing cough medicine containing dextromethorphan, or DXM, to get high in the past year.

Cough Medicine Abuse Does Not Happen By Accident

  • While safe and effective when taken as directed, teens looking to get high from cough medicine take excessive amounts, sometimes 25 to 50 times the recommended dosage. This translates to multiple bottles or packages of medicine at one time.
  • Teens often abuse cough medicines with other prescription drugs, illicit drugs, or alcohol.
  • Even the best kid in the world doesn’t have the same ability as adults to assess risk because the part of their brain that processes risk, the frontal cortex, doesn’t finish developing until their mid 20s.

Parents Have the Power to Keep Teens Drug-free

  • Research shows that kids who learn a lot from their parents about the risk of drug abuse are up to half as likely to use.
  • Parents are not alone in their fight to prevent medicine abuse; reaching out to the school nurse can help parents learn more about the issue and access local resources.
  • Parents can learn more about the Home to Homeroom campaign by logging onto www.StopMedicineAbuse.org

Parents can interact and help raise awareness by joining online communities including:

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Teen Using Drugs to Teens Selling Drugs

Yes, this is a trend I am hearing more and more of – and it is quite disturbing.

Parents fear their teens using drugs – well, some parents even make excuses – “it’s just pot, I did it when I was a teen,” please understand – this is not the marijuana you did when you were a teen – in most cases marijuana can be laces with other substances that can be addictive or even deadly.

Now phone calls are coming more frequently of teens that are dealing drugs not only to support their habit – but to make money.

A cry for help?  Yes!  Well, no – not according to the teenager, but the parents should wake up and realize they have to intervene before this escalates to major drug trafficking and your child is no just arrested for possession but now is dealing with drug trafficking, selling to minors – and maybe more serious charges.

I recently wrote an article for School Family  – 10 Tips to Help Prevent Teen Drug Addiction.

This combined with getting your teen outside help are steps, you, as a parent can take.

Visit www.helpyourteens.com for more information.

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