teens

  1. Teen texting tied to risky behavior

    If there are any teens in your life, you know the drill: Don't try to talk to them, even if they're in the same room as you.

    Send a text message instead.

    But new studies show that all those text messages come with real risks, and not just in the form of thumb and wrist pain.

    One new study finds that kids who send the most text messages are more likely to engage in bad behavior... while another shows how all that texting may be keeping them awake at night.

    In the first new study, researchers found that kids who send the most text messages--an average of 120 per school day (yes, it's possible!)--have a much higher risk of engaging in unhealthy behaviors than those who send few messages.

    Researchers say these super-texters were 40 percent more likely to have tried smoking and 43 percent more likely to be binge drinkers than those who didn't text much.

    These kids were also 41 percent more likely to have used drugs, 55 percent more likely to have been involved in a fight and 3.5 times more likely to have had sex.

    They're also 90 percent more likely to have had four or more sexual partners.

    The same study found that 11.5 percent of kids spent more than three hours a day on social networking Web sites like Facebook, and that these children were also more likely to be smokers, drinkers, drug users and sexually active than those who spent less time online.

    But let's get back to texting--because another new study finds that kids who can't sleep might be staying up just to send and receive those little one-liners.

    A researcher who examined 40 insomniac children and young adults between the ages of 8 and 22 years old found that the kids were actually sending out waves of text messages after their supposed bedtimes.

    In all, these kids were sending an average of 33.5 texts each night after lights-out. Some of them even woke up throughout the night to check for new messages--and respond to them.

    Truth be told, that sounds like some adults with their BlackBerry devices--so maybe the apples aren't falling all that far from some of those trees.

    Of course, none of this means your text-happy children or grandchildren will turn into drinking, smoking, sex-addicted insomniacs. But keep tabs on them just the same--even if you have to send a text message to schedule a little face time.

  2. Saving teens from depression

    There are few things worse than a depressed child – but a depressed child loaded up on meds he doesn't need is one of them.

    Two of the biggest problems when it comes to teens and depression is that many are overtreated – while many others are not treated at all.

    Both approaches are wrong, and both can lead to lifelong problems and even the saddest ending of all – suicide.

    New research shows that it doesn't take much to get a child back on the right track – it just needs to take place early.

    A study in the June issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association shows how well teens respond to simple non-drug therapies, such as cognitive behavioral instruction.

    In this study, researchers followed teens with a history of depression or symptoms that fell just short of a depression diagnosis. These kids also had at least one parent who had suffered from depression.

    Half of the kids were sent to weekly cognitive behavioral instruction sessions for 8 weeks, and monthly sessions for six months. The other half were allowed to seek whatever treatments they wanted.

    The kids who went through the 90-minute sessions were less likely to suffer from an episode of depression. In fact, just 21.4 percent of kids in the group sessions experienced depression during a nine-month follow-up, versus 32.7 percent in the control group.

    These group sessions won't help everyone, but even then drugs are not always the answer. The real answer lies in your child's body.

    Sometimes, the answer is simple – just not in the place most doctors look. I've found that many depressed patients just need additional tryptophan, vitamin B6 and/or vitamin B12.

    The single most important thing to understand is that your child's depression should not go untreated.

    Just as you shouldn't rush to put your teenager on expensive prescription drugs, you shouldn't ignore the symptoms and hope they'll just go away, either.

    Chances are, they won't.

    Remember, depressed teens often go on to become depressed adults. And depressed adults are at risk for a number of problems, including drug and alcohol abuse and suicide.

    The good news is, it doesn't have to be that way, especially if you treat it early.

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