Stories about: addiction

Don’t let your kids be JUUL fools

Smoke from a JUUL e-cigarrette
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: FAWN GRACEY/BOSTON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

Chances are your senior in high school has JUULed. In parent-speak, this means they’ve used the popular vaping pod-based nicotine e-cigarettes called JUUL. In my experience as a pediatrician, at least 70 percent of the juniors and seniors I meet have JUULed.

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Are kids addicted to their cell phones?

Michael Richard, MD
Michael Richard, MD

Media expert Michael Rich, MD, MPH, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston, answers your questions about media use.

Last week he answered your questions about parenting with television. Here’s this week’s question:

Q: It seems like today’s generation is always on their cell phones, iPods, Nintendos, etc., whether they are 8 years old or 18 years old. How does this happen? Is this simply a fad, or are these children addicted?
Curious about Kids in Lamar, CO

A: Dear Curious,

I recently came across an interview with three girls who are labeled “extreme texters.”  It was fascinating to listen to them talk about how and how often they use technology, but what was most interesting to me was this comment:

Reporter: Would you say that you’re a little bit addicted to your cell phones?
Teen: I don’t think it’s being addicted to my cell phone, it’s the need to be talking to my friends, and the cell phone is just the way I get to that.

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Teen brains really are different

Your teens may actually have an excuse for their erratic, irrational and even downright odd behavior. Children’s neurologist, Frances Jensen, MD, spoke to NPR about how she discovered that contrary to previous beliefs, human brain development isn’t complete until the early 20’s. A couple of reasons for this are:

  1. A crucial part of the brain — the frontal lobes — are not fully connected.
  2. Adolescents have a much more robust habit-forming ability that is helpful when it comes to learning new things, but also causes an increased risk for addiction.

Read more about Jensen’s findings in this Dream article and watch these videos where Jensen explains why teens behave the way they do.

You can also listen to Jensen’s personal story, as told to NPR, on what sparked her interest in the teen brain.

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Internet overload: Are we spending too much time online?

We’re all familiar with the myriad benefits of the Internet, a tool which has undeniably changed the way we communicate, learn and use entertainment. But how much of a good thing is too much? For a small fraction of kids, the Internet’s draw may prove too enticing, as Internet addiction (loosely defined as excessive use of the Internet that negatively impacts academic, social and family life) appears to be on the rise in much of the industrialized world.

We spoke to a neurologist specializing in the teen brain, media expert Michael Rich and a psychologist for this article about Internet addiction and its possible effects. Read on to find out what you need to know about your child’s Internet use–and how you can help them manage their screen time effectively.

That’s important to do, as a national survey recently found that the amount of time young people spend with entertainment media has risen dramatically: Today, 8 to 18 year olds spend an average of almost eight hours a day using digital media. And because they are often “media-multitasking” (like instant messaging on the computer while watching TV and texting friends on their cellphones) they actually manage to cram a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media content into those eight hours.

So, is it bad for kids and adults alike to spend so much time using digital media? The answer isn’t straightforward, as the article makes clear, and much more research needs to be done. A Frontline documentary also probes the question.

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