Stories about: Teen Health

Coming of age in a Snapchat world: How do I keep my child safe?

How to keep your kids safe on social media

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Reddit. As a parent, your instinct is always to protect your child. But how 
do you protect them in the ever-evolving digital landscape? Social media has become a part of our everyday lives and is changing the way we interact with the world around us. According to a study by Common Sense Media, teenagers use an average of nine hours of entertainment media a day and tweens (ages 8-12) use an average of six hours per day. This does not include using media for school or homework.

What is the long-term impact of this amount of media exposure on the developing brain? We don’t yet know. What we do know is that it is impossible to prevent your child from using social media. So, how can you help them use it safely?

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Celebration = intoxication is a dangerous message for kids

For kids, celebrating should not go hand-in-hand with substance use

On New Year’s Eve, CNN fielded reporters all over the country to cover and arguably, to define how Americans celebrate. A report from a “puff, pass and paint” party in Denver, in which revelers flaunted their marijuana use, caught the attention of millions of viewers and became a subject of discussion nationally.

The arrival of marijuana in the realm of legal and now socially-accepted substances, strengthens the message that substance use is required for having a good time.Showcasing marijuana use on national television is relatively new following the recent liberalization of marijuana policy in several states and the novelty incited significant coverage. But the underlying message that strives to define substance use as a necessary (and perhaps sufficient) component of celebration is anything but new.

In fact, incessant references to drinking and being drunk have been part of popular film and television culture for decades and now usually goes largely unnoticed. We seem to have accepted that being drunk is synonymous to having a good time, though this message which has its roots in the alcohol industry is more the work of years of successful advertising campaigns than a biologically based truth.

The arrival of marijuana in the realm of legal and now socially-accepted substances, further strengthens the message that substance use is required for having a good time which is already implicitly accepted. This notion risks causing significant harms to our kids and deserves closer scrutiny.

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Teens and opioids: Time for an open conversation

woman shooting heroin

National surveys have found that teens today are much less likely to use alcohol and drugs compared to their parents’ generation. In fact, the proportion of high school seniors who chose not to use alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or other drugs has increased from 3 percent to 25 percent in the last thirty years. This remarkable good news is overshadowed by the growing number of teens who are daily marijuana users and the recent increase in opioid-related deaths among young people. It is important to understand the roots of this discrepancy in order to address it.

Statistics show that between 2014 and 2015, the rates of drug overdoses — mainly due to opioids — increased by 19 percent in teens, and are now double what they were in 1999, proving that young people are an important part of the equation. We know that most adults with addiction problems started using when they were teens and those with opioid use disorders are no exception. As a pediatrician and adolescent health specialist, I see this as both a challenge and an opportunity.

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Endometriosis and the gift of motherhood

Allie and her toddler son in their apartment

When my first period came at age 13, it involved blood clots and extreme pain. I didn’t know what to expect or what was considered “normal,” but, thankfully, my mother did. She recognized that my symptoms were unusual and immediately took me to see my pediatrician. I was first prescribed birth control pills, which seemed to help initially, but when my period remained heavy and painful, I was put on a different birth control pill that enabled me to have my period only four times a year.

I thought my situation was normal — albeit uncomfortable and inconvenient. No one ever suggested painful periods could be anything more than bad luck. I would hear women talk about menstrual cramping and see advertisements for medications to relieve menstrual symptoms … I just figured I had bad periods like so many other adolescent and adult women.

I believed that for years.

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