Is Your Teen Texting and Driving?!

texting while driving

Recent Data on Distracted Driving

Distraction was a key factor in 58 percent of crashes involving drivers ages 16 to 19, according to an analysis of video footage of 1,691 moderate-to-severe crashes 6 seconds before they occurred.

Teenagers are 400% more likely to get into an accident from texting and driving.

Teens have the highest crash rate of any group in the United States.

Texting while driving is extremely dangerous and irresponsible. Leading causes of distracted driving include texting, talking on cell phones, using a mobile device to access the internet while driving and surfing the web, using social media or taking selfies.  


Consider These Facts And Statistics About Distracted Driving:


·       In 2017, distracted driving was reported in crashes that killed 3,166 people (8.6 percent of all fatalities), although many instances may go unreported.


·       Even though teens recognize that talking or texting on a cell phone or using social media apps while driving is unsafe, they often engage in these behaviors anyway.

·       Teen drivers receive the most calls from their parents, more than general calling patterns would suggest.


What about the Brain Science of Distraction?

Today’s media distractions are addictive. Recent studies have shown that behaviors such as texting, social media and frequent notifications trigger the reward system of the brain causing people to want more and more of what technology offers.


Especially for the inexperienced teen driver, if the brain is thinking about anything other than driving, the ability to react to a potential crash is diminished. Being distracted behind the wheel because of texting or using cell phones is not only dangerous but also often deadly.


 What Can Parents Do to Avoid Texting and Driving?

Parents making teens aware of the statistics and facts about teen distracted driving due to cell phone use can help teens avoid dangerous crashes.

 >Turn off cell phones

>Never text while driving


 Parents Can Also…..

>Model safe driving behaviors

>Limit the number of peer passengers

>Make teenagers aware of the laws against texting and driving

>Share statistics and facts with their teenager about the dangers of texting and driving

> Listen to a webinar by Dr. Lisa where she dives into these hard issues today!

ADHD and Sleep in Teens

Teenagers already have such a tumultuous relationship with sleep due to the rapid changes that occur physically, mentally and behaviorally during this stage of development. When you consider those that are also dealing with the normal environmental stressors like school pressures and social media, while suffering with ADHD it is no wonder why one of the biggest issues parents complain about is sleep.

Although there is much debate about whether the sleep issues teens have are even more prevalent in teens with ADHD, we do know that with ADHD there are a lot of issues with settling down at bedtime that are not related to other co-existing conditions or sleep disorders.

Here are a few issues that can contribute more highly to those teens that suffer from ADHD:

Stimulants: Whether a teen is using more natural stimulants such as those that are found in caffeinated beverages or in herbal supplements or taking stimulant medications to help with the ADHD, these can directly impact the sleep cycles for kids. The intake of such beverages and supplements should not occur 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. It is always best to limit these items to the morning.

Resistance: Almost all kids have some level of bedtime resistance that is normal, but add in the issue with ADHD kids that may or may not be distractible and focused on various issues in life and there is often a higher level of resistance and struggle. Adding a relaxing bedtime ritual might be beneficial here.

Other Conditions: Often kids with ADHD have such a hard time with anxiety and depression because they aren’t typical or don’t quite fit in with peers that aren’t struggling quite as much. Being cautious to not over look any of these co-existing conditions can make the difference for sleep treatments as well.


Violent Video Games – What Are They Teaching Teens?

Are violent video games teaching teens that violence is an acceptable way to solve conflicts?

Violent Video Games

In a recent study, it was revealed that 97% of US kids age 12-17 play video games.  Further, it is estimated that more than half of all video games on the market today portray some form of violence.

Earlier this year, pediatric groups concluded that violent video games increase aggression.  In a related article, it was pointed out that we, as a nation, need to raise awareness of what young people are seeing online and educate ourselves about how games are shaping people’s thoughts and behavior.

Three years ago, the American Psychology Association created a task force and reported that research now demonstrates a link between violent video game use resulted in increased aggressive behavior and decreased social, emotional, moral behavior and empathy.

Further, the American Academy of Pediatrics has warned that violent media sets poor examples for kids.  “Video games, the Academy noted, should not use human or other living targets or award points for killing, because this teaches children to associate pleasure and success with their ability to cause pain and suffering to others.”  (July 2016 Guideline on Media Violence)

With new and innovative advances in technology platforms, virtual violence in video games plays out in realistic ways that include increased aggression, violent themes such as hand-to-hand combat, wars and shootings, crude language, increased bullying, fighting and violence toward women.

Virtual violence begs the question asked at the beginning of this blog: Are violent video games teaching teens and younger children that violence is an acceptable way to solve conflicts? There is now compelling evidence from research studies indicating that violent video game play does, indeed, increase psychological and physical aggression.

What can parents do?  Parents should take it upon themselves to research the video games their children want to play, take into consideration the rating of the game, and be mindful of possible long-term effects to ensure content is appropriate for the child’s age group.  With numerous educational video games on the market that focus on adventure, skill building, and critical thinking, children should be encouraged to play these games instead of violent games.

Smartphones, Social Media and Teens: Benefits, Risks and Radiation?

Teens, across the nation and around the world, will be heading back to school soon. While teens were “relaxing” over the summer, researchers were doing their due diligence by continuing to explore the impact smartphones and social media have on teens.  Let’s take a look at what we know and explore some new information that might be helpful to teens, parents and educators.

What we’ve known for a while is that smartphones and social media have been linked to anxiety, depression, stress, lack of sleep, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts found in teens.  Teen anxiety and depression treatment centers have risen up in large numbers.  Longer hours on social media have been found to increase a teen’s risk of cyberbullying, lower self-esteem and may cause loss of valuable friend, family, and personal time.

While social media has benefits such as instant and often meaningful communication with family and peers, being constantly on has become a social media trap for many teens.  By increasing the time spent on measuring and managing their social media success on sites like Instagram and Snapchat, experts fear overuse may be adding risks to teen’s mental health.  Being constantly on, plugged in 24/7 – many teens never get a break.

Statistically, girls who spend several hours on their smartphones and social media each day tend to develop more social and emotional problems than boys.  Teen girls spend more time cultivating their online identity, comparing themselves to their peers and paying more attention to “likes.”  Teen boys tend to spend more time gaming and less time worrying about online identity.

Recently it was noted that 95% of teens have access to a smartphone.

We know that teens who are constantly on, keeping up with the latest apps, gaming, spending longer hours on social media, and wondering and worrying about how they measure up to their peers run the risk of higher than normal academic challenges and mental health issues.

Adult awareness to the many tactics used to get teens (and others) hooked to social media is the first step toward understanding and breaking the “constantly on” cycle.  Adults have, at their fingertips, bundles of research and studies as to the “why and how” teenagers get hooked, become addicted to social networking, and, as a consequence, have difficulty putting their smartphone and other devices aside.

The Latest…

When it comes to smartphones, social media and teens, it now appears there is more to consider.  In a recent article entitled, “Smartphones are killing teenagers’ memories, study says” by Chris Ciaccia, it was suggested and supported by the study referred to in the title, that radiation from smartphones is negatively impacting teenagers’ memories, leaving them with short-term memory loss. Perhaps now that more people are incorporating more organic living into so many aspects of their lives, they might also consider putting down their technology.


Teens of Value Social Media

Knowing why teens value social media is just as important as understanding why teens are taking breaks from social media.  Behind teens and social media is purpose driven social media marketing.  Not unlike adults, teens desire to be relevant, be a part of a group or community and have value.  Unlike when their parents were growing up and had personal friend connections but often limited transportation or restrictions on time to be with those friends, teens today can hang out with their friends, all the time, 24/7, wherever they are! Social media has created a feeling of connectedness never experienced in human history.

Teens talk about their desires, personal issues, fears, and thoughts on social media.  But there is a downside to all of this connectedness ~ social media is also where cyberbullying and sexual exploitation of young people occur.  Sadly, many teens and younger children, who are being victimized, seldom tell their parents until it is too late.

Parents need to be present in their teen’s social media world while educators need to be vigilant in recognizing signs of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, poor sleep habits, eating disorders or body image issues in their students, which all may be related to the affects of social media.

Brain and Social Media

There have been several articles written about how social media affects the brain. CNN reported recently that researchers at UCLA’s Brain Mapping Center found that when teenagers’ photos get lots of “likes” on social media apps, such as Instagram, their brains respond in a similar way to seeing loved ones or winning money.

Dr. Lisa Strohman, Founder and CEO of Digital Citizen Academy, in her frequent presentations to parents and teachers, stresses the fact that regions of the brain in teens become “activated” by “likes”, with the brain’s reward center becoming especially active.  She compares face-to-face interactions with online interactions and the obvious fact that, when you go online, there is no way to “read” someone’s facial expressions. Often interactions are misinterpreted and messages ineffective.

Teens spend an average of 9 hours a day on social media, which now researchers say is affecting the brain’s neuroplasticity – the way the brain grows and changes after experiencing different things.  What does this mean for future generations?  As teens grow up, will they, for example, be able to read subtle expressions on faces?   How will they adapt differently to their environment?