It's hard to think of sunburn when you're battling sub-zero February temperatures every day -- but summer will be here soon enough.

And when it arrives, you can bet that two things will happen: You'll hear a lot of mainstream noise about the supposed importance of wearing sunblock... and kids will get sunburned anyway.

Now, that same mainstream is in a tizzy over a small survey that shows kids aren't interested in wearing sunscreen -- and that as they grow up, they simply stop putting it on.

Take that, mom!

The survey of 360 kids found that half of them used the stuff regularly when they were in fifth grade -- and half of them got sunburned at least once during the summer.

Three years later, the number of kids using sunscreen fell dramatically: By the time the kids reached eighth grade, only 25 percent of them reported using sunscreen regularly -- despite reporting even more time out in the sun.

More time in the sun, less sunscreen -- the mainstream coverage of this ends pretty much there. And naturally, they're all screaming for these kids to put on their sunscreen.

But here's the "rest of the story" -- the part you couldn't hear over those screams: In eighth grade, the number of kids reporting at least one sunburn didn't change. It was still 50 percent.

Maybe sunscreen isn't all it's cracked up to be after all.

And it's not just that these chemical goos don't work nearly as well as their backers claim. In fact, many of them are actually far more dangerous than a summer full of sunburns.

Common sunscreens contain well-known hormone-disrupting chemicals such as oxybenzone. Until recently, many sunscreens -- including some of the best-selling brands -- contained a form of vitamin A that could actually speed the growth of skin tumors.

In other words, the very chemicals that were supposed to protect people from sunburn and, eventually, skin cancers can actually cause the disease and speed its progression.

That's why the best defense against sunburn isn't a layer of dangerous chemicals. It's common sense: Get some sun at every age, because it's the best (and cheapest) way to get your vitamin D.

And when you've had enough, cover up -- or at least seek shade or head inside before you get burned.

Some kids will of course get burned anyway. So be it -- at least they're outside, where they belong, and not parked on the sofa.