Archive | November, 2014

Developing a Healthy Relationship with Technology

Last week we had parent-teacher conferences, and as has been the case for the last few years — rather than grades — the majority of parents wanted to talk to me about one thing. Screen time. As in, how much of it is healthy, how do I help my child manage it, and what the heck am I supposed to do?

The average teenager spends 7 1/2 hours a day in front of a screen, and while recommendations have been made on specific limits for younger kids, with teenagers, it’s not so cut and dry.


The Scary Side Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep

When teens stay up staring at their phone screens instead of snoozing, it can actually be bad for their health. A new study says that teenagers who aren’t getting enough sleep may be at risk for health problems later in life. According to research, it increases inflammation throughout the body, which can cause heart disease or diabetes.

This study involved analyzing the levels of C-reactive protein (or CRP) levels in teens’ bodies. Higher levels of CRP are associated with poor health, and less sleep is a factor in such an increase.


Earlier School Start Times Increase Chances of Teen Car Accidents, Study Says

From an increased risk of obesity to trouble concentrating, there are a variety of reasons that teens need a good night’s sleep. This is exactly why some schools are pushing back their start time — a topic Choices has covered in the past with a feature on Jilly Dos Santos (a teen who successfully convinced her school to start later). In case you need further proof that this is a smart move, a new study shows that schools with earlier start times have higher rates of teen motor vehicle accidents.


No More Shame — The Social and Emotional Roots of Obesity

Sorry folks, but we’re going about this all wrong.

As teachers, we know that shaming rarely works to motivate behavior change, yet it still seems to be the focus of our fight against obesity.

Full disclosure here: I’m a health teacher, but I was not a healthy teen. I understand the damage of fat-shaming on a personal level, and it’s hard not to get angry about it… even though I now experience it from the other side. I’m constantly caught off guard when I hear people that I respect — people who only know me at my current size — making judgmental comments about other people based solely on their weight.


Here’s Why 2014’s Word of the Year is One You Need to Know

Vape: (verb) to inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device

What is this word and what does it have to do with teens? Well, for 2014, Oxford Dictionaries chose “vape” as its Word of the Year. Explaining this decision, Oxford writes on their site: “As e-cigarettes (or e-cigs) have become much more common, so vape has grown significantly in popularity.”


Teens’ Driving Habits Mirror Those of Their Parents

Adolescents learn a lot from their parents — from their first steps to their first words. These are typically lessons provided by mom or dad. Another skill they pick up on? Driving. A new study from Toyota and the University of Michigan shows that parents are the number-one influence on teen drivers — and that isn’t necessarily a good thing.


Teaching Kids to Evaluate Online Health Information

Adolescence is a time of change, uncertainty, and a boatload of questions. What other questions were my students going online with, and what were they stumbling across in the process?

Online health searches have become the third most popular activity on the web. Without the tools needed to search safely and effectively, we put our students at risk of falling for false information, receiving unhealthy or even dangerous advice, or — as my students like to say — seeing “inappropriate stuff.”


Celebrate Chicken Soup For the Soul Day with Stories to Teach Empathy

Each year on November 12th, the nation celebrates Chicken Soup For the Soul Day. This day is not only intended to celebrate the beloved series of true stories from the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, but to celebrate “who you are, where you have been, where you are going and who you will be thankful to when you get there.” Since their first title was released in 1993, it’s become almost impossible to not know and love at least one version of the series that explores emotional and inspirational […]


National Survey Analyzes Teen Relationships & Dating Abuse — The Results Are Surprising

In a survey featuring more than 660 participants across the country, teens opened up about topics including relationships and dating abuse. Conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, the 2014 National Survey on Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence found some pretty shocking results.

Surprisingly, nearly 20 percent of teens (ages 12-18) reported themselves as victims of physical and sexual abuse in relationships. When it came to psychological abuse, ranging from name-calling to stalking, more than 60 percent of teens of both genders reported being victims and perpetrators of this behavior.


The Reason Why Schools Have Cliques

If you’ve seen the movie Mean Girls, you may be familiar with cliques in the cafeteria. While the distinct difference between jocks, nerds, or band geeks may seem extreme in that film, there definitely are cliques in high schools, at least to some extent. A new study from the American Sociological Association takes a look at why some schools have more cliques or social hierarchies compared to others.