Archive | December, 2014

Driving Older Cars May Increase a Teen’s Risk of Accidents

While passing down an old car may seem like an easy solution when your teen starts driving, you may want to hold off on hand-me-down vehicles. That’s because new research suggests that teens who drive cars that are older are more likely to get in fatal accidents.

According to Science Daily, “Almost half of teen drivers killed on US roads in the past few years were driving vehicles that were 11 or more years old, and often lacking key safety features.”


One School’s Brilliant Response to Sexist Dress Code Policies

Are school dress codes sexist? We asked students to weigh in with their opinions in the January 2015 issue of Choices, and we received several responses from both sides. This question has been a hot topic lately, after a string of disciplinary actions from schools sparked the discussion publicly. For instance, one Canadian school has begun sending students home for visible bra straps, and just three days after moving across the country and starting at a new school, one Clay Country, FL student was forced to wear a “shame suit” for her dress code violation.


10 Healthy Ideas for Teens Over Winter Break

It’s winter break!!! Why not use your extra time to try something new or develop a healthy habit? While I don’t believe in homework over break—especially for health!—here are some things you can do with your time to improve your health, so you can go into the spring semester refreshed and ready for action.


Can Fast Food Affect Students’ Test Scores?

Before you head to McDonalds for dinner again this week, listen to this! A new study from Ohio State University suggests that the amount of fast food kids eat can be linked to their school performance.

If kids reported eating at fast food restaurants frequently in fifth grade, their test scores in reading, math, and science were lower when they reached eighth grade. Their scores were approximately 20 percent lower than classmates who didn’t eat fast food fries or burgers on a regular basis, according to an article on Science Daily.


The Surprising Health Benefits of Hugs, Including Reduced Stress

Did you know there are actually scientific benefits of hugs? According to a new study, hugging can help prevent stress and protect you from getting sick. Research from Carnegie Mellon University found that hugs are a form of social support that can protect stressed people from increased infections.

Science Daily explains, “They found that greater social support and more frequent hugs protected people from the increased susceptibility to infection associated with being stressed and resulted in less severe illness symptoms.” Essentially, showing people you care can work wonders for not only their mental health, but physical health too.


The Power of Social Media to Teach Kids Advocacy

The Internet is an amazing thing. When we look at the impact it has on the social and emotional health of our kids, it’s easy to go negative—especially with some of the headlines out there—but if we take time to focus on the good, then they’re more likely to come to us when they need help with the bad.

One of the ways we can do that is by sharing stories with them about kids who are using the Internet to bring about big social change.


Cigarette and Alcohol Use Among Teens Hits an All-Time Low

Every year, the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey looks at substance use among middle and high schoolers across America. This year, while illicit drug use continues to show a national decline, cigarette and alcohol use are at their lowest points since the study began in 1975.

This annual study polls between 40,000 and 50,000 students in 8th, 10th, and 12th grade from over 400 schools across the country. The results are then compiled and used to track substance abuse trends in teens.


Teens’ Use of E-Cigarettes Continues to Grow

Since “vape” is the Oxford Dictionary’s word of 2014, this news may not be too surprising. At the same time, it’s pretty alarming. New studies show that teen use of e-cigarettes continues to rise. While some may think e-cigs are safer than regular cigarettes, these electronic devices still contain nicotine, a highly addictive chemical that can affect the developing brain. Studies also suggest e-cigarettes can be a gateway drug.


This News About Sugar Isn’t So Sweet

While sweets are OK in moderation, new research suggests that certain types of sugars affect the brain differently. According to a study presented at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, fructose is worse for the brain’s reward center than glucose. In fact, fructose can even increase the brain’s desire for food and lead to overeating.

So what’s the difference between these sugars? Fructose is a simple sugar found in high-fructose corn syrup. Examples include soda, salad dressing, and processed snacks. Meanwhile, glucose is produced mainly through the breakdown of complex carbohydrates. Examples include most fruits, such as apples or pineapples.


Setting a Tech Curfew & the Amazing Benefits of Sleep

OK, it’s settled. Teens are sleep deprived.

The American Association of Pediatrics is telling us that in order to get the 9.25 hours they need, rather than the 7.1 hours they’re getting, we’re going to have to let them sleep in.

Luckily, there are advocates on the case, like Jilly Dos Santos—check her out in the September issue of Choices—and resources for anyone who wants to join in. Mainstream media has jumped on board, and there was even a special on The National Geographic Channel last Sunday night—Sleepless in America. Could be a great one to show the class.