Most of us realize that social media is here to stay, for some time to come at least. While the official, scientific verdict may still be out on just how safe social media sites are, there is so much speculation on the pros and cons!
Some say that being in online communities can increase social interaction with friends and family, and people have lots of access to educational information on all ranges of topics. Some say that such interaction can facilitate social and political changes and that social media serves as one of the fastest ways to disseminate useful information.
On the other hand, many say that social media sites prevent the important face-to-face communication, and that much time is wasted on useless activities. Also, some say this has the power to alter one’s brain and change behavior, and of course kids are more exposed to pedophiles, burglars, other predators, and that social media sites can spread incorrect and possibly dangerous information.
While this may apply to just about anyone (and assuming it is correct), what about other higher risks, especially for our teens? They are in that in-between stage, no longer young children but they don’t yet have the full capacity that adults have, to reason and be careful. After all, they’re at the beginning of their lives, and hindsight has not yet developed to a great degree!
One study found that teens use social media every day. This means they are at greater risk for depression, aggression, and being socially isolated. A significant number of teens also develop addictive behaviors associated with social media use, especially when social media constitutes most of their social life. They don’t have much contact with friends and family in person. These individuals may experience social anxiety, more than those with more in-person social ties.
Given their less than ideal state of mind, such teens may be more vulnerable to predators (think
sexual predators), and to cyberbullying. This also puts their developmental growth at risk – in other words, they may not be developing as well as they could be emotionally.
Teens’ self-esteem can take a major hit! Teens tend to compare themselves to others and end up not feeling like they’re good enough. There is also scientific information linking excessive social media use to the possible development of ADHD!
Teens may divulge very private information, and this could have both immediate consequences as well as long-term issues. (Think ahead to applying to colleges and to applying for jobs in the future.)
You see this pattern of potentially very serious problems developing that are linked to social media use. It has even been scientifically linked to post-traumatic stress, something that can take a very long time to neutralize and conquer.
So how do we help teens to develop safe habits and more resiliency? You, the parent, can play a large role in ensuring that your teen develops good habits of social media use, ensuring a more positive experience, and keeping them safe and happy. Would you like to learn some tips on how to do this? We have many of the answers!
And as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Yes, it’s true – the number of prescriptions for stimulant medication has been rising in recent years. One study found that along with these rising rates, payments to the doctors who treat kids with ADHD increased. Some forms of payments come in the form of frequent, low-amount dollar payments but often in the form of foods and beverages.
In this study, it was noted that pediatricians, psychiatrists, and family physicians got most of the payments from the pharmaceutical companies marketing the drugs. And prescription stimulant use doubled in the 10 year span from 2006 to 2016, which was the highest expenditure for kids. This increase in stimulant prescriptions matches the increase in kids getting the ADHD diagnosis or label. What’s sad is that much of these prescription drugs are then sold on the streets.
It is suggested by the study that the marketing efforts from the pharmaceutical companies may be the largest contributing factor to these rises. Between 2013 and 2018, more than $20 million went to doctors who prescribed such stimulant medication. Another study found a correlation between doctors who get free meals prescribe the brand-name drugs more that big pharma is promoting. (Isn’t that the point of marketing?!)
To review a bit, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder, or, ADHD, is also sometimes called ADD (short for Attention Deficit Disorder, an earlier designation). The authors of the diagnostic manual which professionals use to diagnose says it “is characterized by a pattern of behavior, present in multiple settings (e.g., school and home), that can result in performance issues in social, educational, or work settings.” Their behavioral symptoms are either inattentive or hyperactive or a combination of both. Those who are likely to get this diagnosis usually fail “to pay close attention to details, [have] difficulty organizing tasks and activities, [do] excessive talking, fidgeting, or [have] an inability to remain seated in appropriate situations.”
If you or someone suspects your child “has” ADHD, some signs to look for may be your child starting their schoolwork or chores at home, but they may lose focus and get easily distracted. So, they often don’t finish what they start. Perhaps your child’s teachers are telling you your child is having trouble paying attention to their lessons or can’t stay organized or follow instructions. Another sign might be that if you speak directly to your child, you notice that his/her mind seems to be somewhere else. Also, your child may lose their school materials, they may often misplace their glasses, keys, wallet or purse, and their cell phone.
Many children leave their seats and move around the classroom a great deal. You need to wonder if your child is even capable of staying still for an extended period of time. This would be something excessive, because we know that children are full of energy and impulsive and that’s not necessarily ADHD! If your child can’t play quietly or participate in social activities, this is another possible sign. Your child may also be completing other people’s sentences or cannot wait in line easily.
Remember – if your child has many of these symptoms/behaviors, it may still mean they do not have behavior that rises to the diagnostic level of ADHD, even any of the three subtypes. So, it’s important to have your child evaluated by a competent professional. And also remember that many cases are diagnosed when symptoms can be corrected by diet and supplements.
To review the medications and their side effects, there are multiple medications that are typically given to kids and teens who have a diagnosis of ADHD. A few examples include:
Jornay PM – a stimulant medication prescribed for kids aged 6 and over. It is a federally controlled substance because it has methylphenidate (sold under the name Ritalin) and is considered addictive. Some serious side effects include sudden death in people who have heart issues, stroke, and heart attack (in adults), increase in blood pressure, and it can cause new or worse behavior and thought problems.
Ritalin – methylphenidate is a first-line stimulant medication and often used with kids and teens for ADHD although it is a controlled substance. Side effects can include trouble sleeping (narcolepsy), decreases in appetite which may result in weight loss, anxiety, dry mouth, nausea, stomach pain, irritability, lethargy, dizziness, heart palpitations, blurred vision, and dry eyes.
Adderall – is another controlled substance prescribed to kids and teens for ADHD diagnoses. It is a stimulant (amphetamine, or an “upper”, containing dextroamphetamine saccharate, amphetamine aspartate, dextroamphetamine sulfate and amphetamine sulfate). This can also cause sudden death with people who have heart problems, stroke, and heart attacks (in adults), increased blood pressure and heart rate. It can also cause new or worse behavior and thoughts. Children and teens may also experience psychotic symptoms, such as hearing voices, believing things not true, other manic symptoms, and suspicion. Fingers and toes may feel numb or painful and may change color.
So, in addition to all these physiological side effects, they can also cause even worse behavioral and mood changes…buyer beware!
To review more holistic approaches to handling ADHD, changing a child’s or teen’s diet can be very challenging! We all know that. However, if your child has a diagnosis of ADHD or you suspect she/he could easily be diagnosed, but you don’t want to go the prescription medication route, it’s worth it to try changing what your child eats.
Start slowly. Introduce new foods perhaps cooked in novel ways (like veggies we all love to hate), so it actually tastes good! Your brain “eats” one fourth of the calories that we ingest. So, a poor diet equates to a poorly functioning brain. A more ideal diet for those with ADHD or its symptoms has lower carbohydrates, and more proteins and fats. Proteins are involved in making neurotransmitters, so they directly impact moods.
An ideal plate may have about 65% plant-based foods (lower starch veggies and salads, lower sugar fruits like berries), 25% high quality protein, and 10% healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, and seeds. However, this may vary depending on your child’s individual needs.
Find out which foods your kids may be sensitive to - there are numerous, lower-cost ways to test for these. Also, take foods containing refined wheat (and other grains) way down or out of their diet, and try to reduce/eliminate all sugar. There are very palatable and healthy sugar substitutes (not aspartame, etc.). There are many recipes free of charge that help you make nearly every dish you and your child love using healthier ingredients, including pizza! Yes, there's even a healthy version of pepperoni. Almond flour makes a fine substitute for wheat, by the way. Try to stop eating foods which are more than "minimally processed" - highly processed foods like vegetable oil do not create healthy kids. Watch out for chemical food additives and genetically modified ingredients.
As far as supplementation goes, some helpful choices may be fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids, the B vitamins, vitamin D, probiotics, magnesium, zinc, and iron. Although there are very few, if your child is on medication, you will want to check for possible contra-indications. For optimal results, please work with a competent health care provider!
Now some people do not respond well enough to lifestyle changes, and it may be the case that a combination of low-dose medication coupled with such holistic changes may produce the best results in your kids and teens. Working with competent health care professionals can assist you in finding out the best way to help your kids and teens (and thus, you, the parent), and give everybody involved a better quality of life.
And, as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
So, you have a teenager and you’re wanting to make sure you keep your teen away from the drug scene. Why wouldn’t you want that?! Teens want to fit in with their peers and many of them are experimenting with drugs, perhaps at an even younger age. Teens usually have a bit of money in their pockets, and alcohol and cigarettes are fairly inexpensive to purchase.
As we may remember from our own, teen years are challenging – for everyone involved! For many kids, these challenges can seem overwhelming. Teens, in high school, are pressured to get and maintain good grades, get involved with extracurricular activities, later they feel pressure to go to college…. They also want and need a social life, and they are wondering what they’re going to do with the rest of their lives, as they get very close to adulthood.
Then there’s peer pressure, bullying, ridicule, and parents add to the pressure a teen may feel. So do family problems. There may be parental substance use going on. So do teachers add to a teen’s stress unintentionally. In the current environment, as if all of this were not enough, there are even more mental health challenges arising.
It’s not surprising that many teens decide to self-medicate and escape from all the stress. Many teens use performance enhancing drugs, stimulants, to feel like they can meet the expectations of everyone. Also, kids being naturally curious, may want to know first-hand how it feels to be on drugs, alcohol, and other drugs.
You, as a parent, have many options to help prevent teen drug use (although there is no completely foolproof way).
*Know where your teen is and what your teen is doing at all times.
*Establish rules with reasonable consequences and be prepared to enforce these consequences. Parents, be on the same page about this – present a united front.
*Know your teen’s friends.
*Keep track of all prescription drugs.
*Have open dialogs with your teen about drug use. Find out your teen’s opinions.
*Discuss reasons not to use drugs.
*Consider your teen’s exposure to media messages.
*Discuss ways to resist peer pressure.
*Be open about your own drug use. And remember, you are a very strong role model.
*Know the warning signs of teen drug use, like sudden changes in moods, friends, eating habits, sleeping, etc.
*If you suspect your teen is experimenting, talk about it and encourage honesty.
*Put your focus on the using behavior; don’t make it about being a certain type of person.
*Check in regularly with your teen.
We could go on and on. A wonderful resource is the Search Institute and their 40 Developmental Assets model (searchinstitute.org). Be informed about all the latest research which can help your teen thrive. And don’t forget to take a cold, hard look at the style in which you parent – this can make a huge difference in whether your teen takes the slippery path to drug use … or not.
If you are doing everything you can and your teen still falls into the trap of substance use, no self-recriminations please! Just go get help for your teen and engage the family with this.
And, of course, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Everybody seems to be at least somewhat fearful of adolescence – the years of the teenager. I know I was! I didn’t really know what to expect – I just had some crazy ideas of what they would be like when I was raising my kids, and a lot of it turned out to be nonsense.
It is much easier in many ways when kids are younger. Younger kids like getting a hug, getting a book read to them, etc. But teens present a great deal differently and seem much harder to please.
Deep down inside, though, even though they may not admit it, they still need a whole lotta loving care. For example, they might like small surprises, and having a well-stocked refrigerator may make your teen a lot easier to deal with! Their young metabolisms often run so high, that they seem constantly hungry. But make sure to have healthy versions of yummy foods and drinks that do not sabotage their health please!
If you didn’t already know this, in adolescence, friends usually seem more important than family. How and what their peers think of them can be highly stressful, and they may want to do extreme things to fit in that may not seem acceptable to you, the parent.
Teens can be argumentative and will seem to take out their feelings on the people they trust the most – you! They are experimenting with independence.
Teens can become emotionally distant, but they usually swing back to their sweet selves later on.
Teens may be embarrassed to be seen with you in public.
They are experimenting with their image, identity, and they may become sexually active.
They can become quite impulsive and take big risks, so you’ll want to have a plan in place to deal with that effectively.
Teens often have issues with sleeping. It becomes biologically more difficult for them to fall asleep early.
And of course, they will want to make their own decisions about what affects them and their lives (even if they’re not making the best ones).
The teen body is changing, and your teen may have a lot of feelings and thoughts about the way they look. Yet they don’t always share that with you.
The teen brain changes biologically, and your teen’s body is making sex hormones, which in turn triggers physiological changes and romantic feelings. This can be very confusing!
Cognition, the ability to think and reason, will continue to change throughout the teen years well into the 20s (and beyond). Regulation of emotions in the brain is among the last stages of brain development. So, it’s harder to control emotions for them (as it is for so many adults too).
Some tips for you as parents are try not to be judgmental or come across as critical; this may seem pretty hard to do but your love means more to them than they can ever admit.
Understand that they are trying to learn to be more independent, so they need some space to do this. Eventually, their values may line up more closely to your own.
As their behavior may seem rejecting to you, it’s about them trying to navigate through the maze of becoming more independent, and not as much about rejection.
Help your teens to accept their up and down feelings; share that you also deal with this at times, as well. They will need to know you’ll be there for them no matter what.
Practice active listening and try to pick up on clues about what they may be dealing with.
It’s not easy knowing how much space is enough and how much is too much – but they definitely need some time and space for their developing independence.
Remember, no matter how they act, you are your teen’s most important and main role model. They will be watching to see how you cope with life’s obstacles and modeling you.
If your teen seems down or angry too much of the time, it is probably important to get some professional help. You don’t want something to develop into a bigger issue than it has to be.
And as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
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