Internet vigilance can protect children, teens from online predators

Internet vigilance can protect children, teens from online predators

Devin Vargas didn’t think there was anything to worry about when interacting with people online. Vargas, like many teenagers, had heard it all before in school assemblies, from parents, or in lectures from people older than them. For many children growing up in a digital age, online safety is something hammered into them from a young age. However, when Vargas was old enough to be in online spaces, things were different than expected. “You’re told in school that predators are going to look a very specific kind of way. They’re going to come and ask for your personal information, but you don’t really expect they’re going to come to you under the guise of friendship,” Vargas said. On social media accounts, Vargas could find people to connect with in ways that felt more authentic than most real-life friendships. Vargas had friends at school, but online friends were different. These friends... Read more

A growing number of American teenagers – particularly girls – are facing depression

A growing number of American teenagers – particularly girls – are facing depression

Depression has become increasingly common among American teenagers – especially teen girls, who are now almost three times as likely as teen boys to have had recent experiences with depression. In 2017, 13% of U.S. teens ages 12 to 17 (or 3.2 million) said they had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year, up from 8% (or 2 million) in 2007, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. One-in-five teenage girls – or nearly 2.4 million – had experienced at least one major depressive episode (the proxy measure of depression used in this analysis) over the past year in 2017. By comparison, 7% of teenage boys (or 845,000) had at least one major depressive episode in the past 12 months.   The total number of teenagers who recently experienced depression increased 59% between 2007... Read more

Depression Symptoms in Teens: Why Today’s Teens Are More Depressed Than Ever

Depression Symptoms in Teens: Why Today’s Teens Are More Depressed Than Ever

After a decline in the 1990s, the number of young people that commit suicide has been increasing every year. While no one can explain exactly why, many experts say adolescents and teens today probably face more pressures at home or school, worry about financial issues for their families, and use more alcohol and drugs. “This is a very dangerous time for our young people,” Kathy Harms, a staff psychologist at Kansas City’s Crittenton Children’s Center, told the Portland Press Herald. “We’re seeing more anxiety and depression in children of all ages.” Why Are So Many Teens Depressed? Here are some disturbing statistics about teen depression. According to suicide.org, teen and adolescent suicides have continued to rise dramatically in recent years. Consider these alarming figures: Every 100 minutes a teen takes their own life. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24. About 20 percent... Read more

Addressing the mental health of today’s teens

Addressing the mental health of today’s teens

The pandemic has left the world’s teenagers more stressed and anxious than ever, challenging both their mental health and well-being. For help navigating these mental and emotional waters, we turned to Courtney L. Washington, PsyD, CSYAC, HSPP, clinical training director, Park Center, Parkview Behavioral Health Institute, for some much-needed advice and guidance for parents wanting to help. What effect has the pandemic had on teens’ mental health? The pandemic significantly impacted everyone’s mental health, causing increased levels of anxiety and nervousness. We all saw and/or experienced a lot of social isolation during this past year when stuck in our homes, unable to connect with each other, beyond a screen, on a basic human level. This separation can and did lead to higher levels of depression. Individuals could also experience the effects of trauma, which involves an increased hyper-vigilance and concern for people’s safety, simply because of how unsafe everyone has... Read more

The key to a happy teen? Listen and support — and resist solving problems for them.

In a new book, two experts advise parents on how to talk to their teenagers in ways that foster closeness and help them cope with adversity on their own. You’ve probably heard that to raise a successful person, you need to allow your child, especially adolescents, to have autonomy. That if you micromanage everything, they won’t learn how to do it themselves and thus won’t thrive later in life. You’ve probably heard that to raise a successful person, you need to allow your child, especially adolescents, to have autonomy. That if you micromanage everything, they won’t learn how to do it themselves and thus won’t thrive later in life. But how do you actually do that? William Stixrud, a clinical neuropsychologist, and Ned Johnson, founder of test-preparation company PrepMatters, have a new book out that aims to answer all of that. “What Do You Say? How to Talk With Kids... Read more

The Life-Changing Magic Of Having “Good Parents”

The Life-Changing Magic Of Having “Good Parents”

One day, when I was a teenager, my mom and I were driving down the highway listening to a playlist I'd made on my iPod, moving easily from one conversation topic to another, as we always did — and still do. This wasn’t a particularly special day; it was just another day for us — we were always going on drives or taking road trips together. On this day, though, she suddenly looked at me, and said that she wished she'd had moments like this as a daughter. She said she could never have imagined going on drives with her mother, enjoying music together and talking like friends. She didn't mean it in a "you should be grateful for your life" kind of way, because she's never been that person. She was just wistful. It was the first time I consciously reflected on the idea that maybe the way my... Read more

Sandy Hook Promise Sounds the Alarm for Adults: The Kids Are Not Alright

Sandy Hook Promise Sounds the Alarm for Adults: The Kids Are Not Alright

Staying in a bedroom for 20 hours a day. Being constantly plugged in online. These are just a few of the stressors that youth have faced over the last year due to the pandemic, leading to heightened anxiety and depression, among other new or worsening mental health struggles. This emotional situation can give rise to various forms of youth violence -- not just shootings, but also suicide and self-harm. News. Social media. Online classes. Teenagers are plugged into bad news and challenging learning environments. Social media, which can be a positive place to connect, may spark feelings of isolation and low self-esteem. Learn how to help them unplug by knowing the signs at https://www.sandyhookpromise.org/how-to. The kids are not alright. Learn the warning signs to prevent a tragedy. Tweet this To help adults better understand the "powder keg" of turmoil threatening the lives and well-being of kids right now, Sandy Hook... Read more

Sleep Problems in Teens with ADHD: Causes and Solutions

Sleep Problems in Teens with ADHD: Causes and Solutions

Sleep problems commonly plague individuals with ADHD — particularly during the teen years, when sleep hygiene and patterns go haywire in even the most neurotypical brains and households. Studies estimate that up to 70 percent of children and adolescents with ADHD have problems with sleep that stem from reasons ranging from racing thoughts to coexisting conditions and even environmental factors that can impact sleep patterns.No matter the underlying causes, persistent sleep problems can impact functioning and impair quality of life over time. Thoughtful interventions and practices, however, can significantly improve sleep quality — especially when implemented during the childhood and adolescent years. Sleeping Problems in Teens with ADHD: Causes and Outcomes Common sleep problems in teens with ADHD include: Insomnia , or difficulty falling asleep even when going to bed later. This often comes with early awakenings and an inability to fall back asleep. Sleep onset association , or when... Read more

Adolescent Brains Are Wired to Want Status and Respect: That’s an Opportunity for Teachers and Parents

Adolescent Brains Are Wired to Want Status and Respect: That’s an Opportunity for Teachers and Parents

Credit: Alison Seiffer Here is a parable for our time: There once was an adult who wanted to encourage eighth graders to eat healthier food. The adult designed a lesson plan full of nutritional information—why fruit and vegetables are good for you, why junk food is bad for you, and so on. A similar approach had worked with younger children. But the eighth graders declared the intervention—and, if we’re being honest, the adult—boring. They carried on eating junk food, some of them in greater quantities than they had before.Versions of that story play out in real life all the time, although the age of the adolescents varies, and the goal could be anything from reducing bullying or depression to increasing engagement with math. With discouraging regularity, researchers find that what works with younger children is no longer effective with adolescents. Eighth grade seems to be the inflection point.If we thought... Read more

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