12 Stats About Teens You Need To Know Now

When worrying about our teenagers, it’s hard to know what is really worth stressing over. You know your teen better than anyone else and are much more likely to predict behavior from them.

students online on phones

However, here are some stats about teenagers that may surprise you.

Teens and the Internet

According to Pew Internet & American Life Project, teenagers ages 12 to 17 may be on the internet more and exploring more dangerous avenues than we are aware of. Though they are not always engaging in inappropriate behavior online, harassment and bullying happen more often than we would like to think, and when they are taking part in activities they know they shouldn’t, they know how to hide it from parents.

  1. 93% of teens go online regularly
  2. 27% get online using their phone
  3. 73% are on at least one social network
  4. 55% have given out personal information to someone they don’t know
  5. 29% have posted embarrassing photos, mean information, or spread rumors about someone on Facebook
  6. 88% of parents know that their teens have used the internet to talk to people they don’t know offline
  7. 67% of teens say they know how to hide online activity from their parents


Depression and Suicide

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide may be easier to predict than parents think. Depression is a serious condition that often first appears in adolescence and young adulthood, and suicide continues to be very real danger for teenagers. Learn the signs of depression and get your child help if they are showing any of the warning signs.

  1. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of dead for youth ages 12-18.
  2. 4 out of 5 teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs


Drug and Alcohol Use

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, drug and underage alcohol use and abuse is actually declining. This is something parents spend a lot of time worrying about that they may not have to. However, it is still a problem among some teenagers, and when it comes to driving, teenage accidents often involve alcohol.

  1. 7.5% of Americans 12 and older use marijuana
  2. 9.5% of youth between ages 12 to 17 abuse illegal drugs
  3. 11.6% of youth ages 12 to 17 use alcohol


From these 12 surprising stats, parents of teenagers may need to spend less time worrying about their teenagers’ partying habits and more time monitoring their mental health and making sure they are being safe online. You are the best individual to predict what your child is up to, so trust your instincts when setting boundaries and talking to your teenager about safety and health.


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Questions You Should Be Asking About Bulimia

Bulimia nervosa, also called binge and purge syndrome, is a habitual eating disorder characterized by frequent episodes of excessive food intake followed by self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, fasting, or taking laxatives to avert weight gain.

Bulimia Nervosa as a Medical Diagnosis Concept

Bulimia is a big problem on college campuses. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) approximately 25% of college-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique.

When it comes to eating disorders, many parents assume that they would be able to tell by their student’s extreme weight loss if they had an eating disorder, however, when it comes to bulimia, the problem is not always visible. 


Here are some questions you should ask yourself to help determine if your student has bulimia:


Is My Child Unhappy With His/her Body?

Individuals with eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Instead of asking if your child is too skinny, ask if they are happy with the way they look. Thin people can think they are fat and still have an eating disorder. Overweight teens are at risk for bulimia just as much as underweight teens are as well, though they are less likely to be suspected of having an eating disorder. If your teen is unhappy with their body, and regularly comments on it, this may be a sign they are suffering, whatever their weight. Contrary to the beliefs of bulimics, purging does not cause weight loss. At least half of what is consumed during a binge remains in the body after purging. The body still absorbs the calories of the food ingested. Therefore, even when an individual has been suffering with bulimia for a while, they may not lose much weight and it can be hard to tell just by looking at them if they are bulimic.


What Is My Child’s Relationship With Food?

It is not anyone’s fault when a child becomes bulimic. Many people blame the photo shopped images in the media or often blame the bulimic individual themselves. However, regardless of environmental factors, the individual’s relationship with their body and food is at the root. Bulimia often starts with a diet, which is intended to help the individual feel better about their body. This sometimes results in severe restrictions of food, compensating by binging, feeling guilty about overeating, and beginning a cycle of binging and purging. The cycle, once started, is difficult to stop.


Does My Child Show Signs of Binging and Purging?

Bulimics are good at hiding their disease. They hide food and binge and purge in secret. Some signs of purging can include frequent smells of vomit, excessive trips to the bathroom (especially around meal times), excessive exercising, eating large amounts of food with no weight change, use of diuretics and laxatives, and evidence of binges such as food wrappers and containers. Long term bulimics often have swollen glands and discolored teeth from purges.


If you think your daughter or son may be suffering from bulimia, it is important to get help. Bulimia can cause long term issues including tooth decay, acid reflux, ruptured stomach or esophagus, loss of menstrual periods and fertility, and chronic constipation. Recovery is possible, and there are trained professionals that can help your child develop healthier attitudes about food and their body. Start by calling the National Eating Disorders Association’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-931-2237 for free referrals, information, and advice.


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Raising Awareness about ADHD


Be sure to know these tips about ADHD (Photo Credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

You might think the last thing the ADHD community needs is more news coverage since it seems to be in the press and on the television all the time. Unfortunately, when it comes to mental health problems that affect our lives, there is such a thing as bad press and most of the press related to ADHD is controversial or sensational rather than informative or factual. This is why it is more important than ever to use ADHD Awareness Month to educate and inform people about this very real condition that affects about 11% of American children.

While there has been a shift in society’s thinking about this condition in recent years and the focus of ADHD awareness campaigns is no longer whether or not it is a real condition, there is still work to be done.   Misinformation abounds and there is still a significant stigma attached to being diagnosed with the condition. This means that people who have the disorder and not getting diagnosed and those who are diagnosed aren’t getting the treatment they need. Working to resolve those two problems is the continuing goal of ADHD Awareness Month and The Many Faces of ADHD campaign.

In an effort to help educate and inform, here are some of the facts about ADHD that everyone should know.

Who Does ADHD Affect?

  • ADHD doesn’t discriminate. It affects people of every race, ethnicity, religion, age, and gender. Anyone can have ADHD.
  • ADHD doesn’t care how much money you have. People with ADHD are rich and poor, successful and unsuccessful, single, married, and divorced, thriving, and struggling.
  • In truth, there is no “typical” person with ADHD.

How do I get Tested for ADHD?

  • There is no ‘test’ for ADHD, doctors cannot talk a blood sample to determine if someone has it.
  • There are specific diagnostic criteria that mental health professionals and other practitioners use in order to diagnose the disorder.
  • The process of diagnosing the disorder can be complex, especially if there are other co-existing mental health conditions like anxiety or depression.
  • Diagnosis relies on anecdotal evidence and most practitioners use a variety of well-respected tools and tests as part of their diagnostic process.

Why Should Someone Get Diagnosed?

  • Unfortunately, most people with ADHD will experience difficulties because of the disorder.
  • It can cause significant problems in all areas of a person’s life including school, work, personal relationships, social development, and long term happiness.
  • Research has shown that diagnosis and treatment are the best way to avoid or overcome these challenges.

How is ADHD Treated?

  • ADHD can be treated using medications like, but not limited to, Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta.
  • ADHD can also be treated through participating in therapy, coaching, and behavior modification programs.
  • For most people with the disorder, a combined approach of therapy, skill building, medication, and coaching is the most effective way to treat the various symptoms of the condition.

For more information about ADHD or to find ways to participate in ADHD Awareness month, visit the ADHD Awareness Month website.

Let’s Stomp Out Bullying


Know these bullying warning signs (photo credit:BigStockPhoto.com)

The message of this year’s National Bullying Prevention Month awareness campaign is ‘No Matter’ as in, no matter who you are, what you look like, or what makes you different from me, we are all people and no one deserves to be bullied.

No matter who you are it is likely that you have had to deal with a bully at some point in your life. Whether it was the kid on the playground, the group of girls in high school, or the boss that made life miserable, bullying is a problem in our society. Unfortunately, we now know that what has been seen as just a part of life or even a rite of passage can cause real, lasting damage that can impact the rest of a person’s life.

According to StopBullying.Gov, bullying doesn’t only affect those who are being bullied; it also negatively affects the bullies themselves and anyone who witnesses it.

Kids who are bullied are more likely to be depressed, to struggle with anxiety issues, to feel isolated, sad, and alone, and to experience changes in their eating, sleeping, and activity patterns. Children and teens who are bullied may not live up to their academic potential or participate in school activities, both of which can limit their access to higher education opportunities and high paying careers. They are also at a greater risk for missing school, skipping school, and dropping out of school altogether.   In rare cases, children and teens who are bullied can lash out with extreme violence and almost all the school shootings in the 1990s were committed by victims of bullying.   All of these effects can continue to impact that person for the rest of their lives.

When children and teens bully others it can also affect the rest of their lives. These children are more likely to engage in violent, risky behavior as teens and as adults. They also have an increased risk for alcohol and/or drug abuse, participating in criminal activities like fighting and vandalizing property, and for dropping out of high school.   Those who bully are more likely to become sexually active early on, to be convicted of a crime, and to be abusive to their spouses and children in the future.

Those who are not bullied themselves and who do not participate in bullying others but who simply witness bullying do not go untouched.   These children and teens are more likely to smoke, drink, and use drugs during adolescence. They also have an increased risk for mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

This understanding of just how much bullying affects the lives of our teens and their futures highlights the importance of doing what you can to help stomp out bullying in your family, your school, and your community this month. For more information on bullying and its effects and to learn more about what you can do to help, here are some helpful resources.

StopBullying.gov from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

National Bullying Prevention Center

Bullying Prevention Resource Guide from The Partnership for Children and Families

Is My Child Being Bullied? Action Steps for Parents from the Huffington Post

When Your Child is the Bully from the New York Times


Mental Health Wellness Week

mental health

Develop the skills and habits needed to improve and maintain your mental health wellness. (Photo Credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

When we talk about mental health, most of the conversation centers on disease and disorders and raising awareness about these conditions. But there is another side to mental health, one that is often neglected in our discussions and in the media – mental health wellness. The goal of Mental Health Wellness Week is to make sure wellness is part of the conversation.

We get checkups at the doctor and keep up to date with our vaccinations in an effort to maintain our physical health, but the majority of us only begin looking after our mental health once something goes wrong. When you consider that our mental health affects everything in our lives from what we can achieve to our relationships with those we love, it seems strange that we don’t put more focus on preventative care. The state of our mental health influences how we see ourselves, how we see others, how we cope with challenging situations, and how well we manage the stress in our lives.

Mental Health Wellness Week was started by national non-profit mental health advocacy organization, Freedom from Fear, 30 years ago. The goals of this awareness campaign are:

  • To increase the public understanding of mental health wellness
  • To promote a better understanding of the mind/body connection
  • To raise awareness about evidence based approaches for improving and maintaining mental health wellness
  • To provide a resource for people to find mental health wellness support resources in their community
  • To spread awareness about the kind of coping skills that help improve and maintain mental health wellness

When people have good mental health wellness, they are better able to handle stressful situations and to overcome challenges. Those with good mental health wellness display some common traits. They are well-equipped to bounce back from adversity. They excel at effectively communicating about their feelings and at building and maintaining strong interpersonal relationships. They are able to set and achieve goals and know when to seek help from others. They have an appreciation for themselves and know how to fully enjoy their lives.

There are several ways to develop the skills and habits needed to improve and maintain your mental health wellness.

  • Learn to manage stress through techniques like yoga, relaxation, and breathing exercises
  • Develop a mindfulness practice and adopt a mindful approach to life
  • Being physically active
  • Adopting lifestyle behaviors that support mental health wellness like journaling and meditation
  • Building a strong support network
  • Setting realistic, achievable goals

The key to improving your mental health wellness is learning to manage your stress which is why it is so important to develop good coping mechanisms.   You can improve these coping skills by focusing on relaxing, meditating, and taking time to take care of yourself.   Being physically active, eating right, getting enough sleep, and spending time with friends and loved ones also help build your resilience. Using humor, participating in hobbies you like, taking care of pets, and attending to your spirituality will also improve your overall mental health wellness.

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Health and Wellness Tips for College Students

college sick

Follow these tips to stay healthy while away at college (photo credit:BigStockPhoto.com)c 

For many college students, the move to college signifies the first time in their lives that they and they alone are responsible for paying attention to and taking care of their own health and wellness. Unfortunately, the hectic schedule and the stresses of being away from home and keeping up with coursework can make it difficult to devote time to staying healthy. Too often this means coming down with a terrible cold or a serious case of strep throat at the worst possible time.

The good news is there are many resources available on college campuses to help you stay as healthy as possible. Use the resources on your campus and these tips to safeguard your health and wellness.

  1. Watch What You Eat

The seemingly endless availability of ‘free’ food makes it easy to over indulge which is why so many college students gain weight in the first year of school. Make sure you are getting the food you need without eating things you don’t need by eating breakfast every day, trying to fill half your plate with vegetables at every meal, and avoid eating late at night.

  1. Drink Wisely

This applies to all beverages including those containing alcohol. Make sure you are drinking lots of water every day as it helps keep you from overeating and staying hydrated is important for good health. Limit sugary and highly caffeinated drinks. Both kinds of beverages can hurt your health if you over do it. Don’t binge drink alcohol and when you decide to drink, focus on drinking responsibly.

  1. Keep Moving

One of the most important things you can do to stay healthy is to get enough exercise. It can be difficult to prioritize exercise when there are so many demands on your time but being active affects almost every area of your life. Walk or bike whenever you are on campus. Sign-up to play on an intramural sports team. Join a hiking club or some other club that will let you be social and be active at the same time.

  1. Don’t Skimp on Sleep

All-nighters and skipping sleep are generally considered part of the college experience. However, research has shown just how critical sleep is to good health and this means getting the sleep you need is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy. Sleep deprivation also affects your ability to learn, to concentrate, and to remember which means skipping sleep to study may actually cause you to do worse in your classes than getting a good night sleep.

  1. Avoid Other People’s Germs

The communal environment of a college campus means germs and viruses are everywhere just waiting for you to invite them in. You can keep illness away by practicing good hygiene. Wash your hands, especially after you have been in high traffic areas like classrooms, coffee shops, bathrooms, and the library. Don’t share drinks with other people. If you feel sick go to the health center, don’t wait until you are too sick to get out of bed. Getting treated early can decrease how long you are sick.


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What Parents Can Do to Make Teens into Safer Drivers

teen driver

Follow these tips to help ensure your teen driver is safe when they’re on the road. (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Today, like every other average day in America, 8 teenagers will lose their lives in preventable car accidents according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).   Car accidents, which kill almost 3,000 teenagers a year, remain the number one cause of death for this age group. The only way we, as a society, are going to change that is by changing how we regard several of the driving behaviors that have proven to be the most dangerous amongst young drivers. The goal of National Teen Driver Safety Week is to help make those changes and when it comes to adopting attitudes aimed at keeping teens safe, parents have an important role to play.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) teen drivers are three times as likely as other drivers to be involved in a fatal crash.   Studies have shown that there are several specific reasons that teen drivers are more likely to be in an accident than adult drivers. Focusing on those reasons and taking action to change those outcomes is what needs to happen to decrease the number of preventable deaths caused by teen drivers.

To help parents understand where to focus and what kinds of actions to take, here are two of the most common reasons teens are more three times as likely to get in a fatal car accident as other drivers.

Lack of Experience

The simple truth is that teenagers have been driving for a short amount of time which means they lack the long term experience that makes older drivers safer on the road. While there is no way to shortcut this process, since experience takes time after all, parents can make a difference by taking the time required to ensure their teen learns to be a safe driver.

Many parents think driver’s education programs will teach their children everything they need to know to be a safe driver. Unfortunately, while safety is an important part of many drivers’ education programs, the goal of those programs is to equip your teenager with the knowledge they need to pass their licensing exams. The knowledge and experience they need to drive safely after they get their license needs to come primarily from you. This means taking your teenager out to practice driving for at least the minimum number of hours required by the state. It also means setting a good example and sharing the benefit of your experience with your teenager.


Another reason a teenage driver is more likely to be in an accident is that they are more likely to drive distracted than most adults. According to Distracted.gov, 10% of fatal accidents where the driver was under age 20 involved a driver that was distracted.   Distractions come in many forms. Teenagers can be distracted by their phones, by the radio, by their passengers, and because they are eating. Make sure you are setting a good example for your teenager when it comes to distracted driving and put rules in place to ensure they are focusing on driving whenever they are behind the wheel.


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Media Overuse in Teens May Lead to Mental Health Issues

teenagers electronics video games phone

All of those hours your teen spends playing video games may have a greater impact on them than you realize (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Everyone, from doctors to parents, is concerned about the long term effects of too much screen time on today’s children and teens.  But the conversation generally focuses on the long term effect on physical health since more screen time generally equates to less physical activity.  However, new research suggests that for adolescents, the combination of overuse of media, lack of physical activity, and sleep deprivation may also increase the risk for mental illness.

The study, which was published in the journal World Psychiatry, came from a research team at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.   The goal of the study was to determine if there was a link between certain risk behaviors, like alcohol and drug use, lack of sleep, sedentary behavior, and overuse of media, and the prevalence of mental illness and self destructive behavior.

The team used a questionnaire called the Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSHS) and collected data from more than 12,000 European teenagers between the ages of 14 and 16.

The results identified three different risk groups across the participants.

The first group was labeled the high risk group.  These teens had a high incidence of all the risk behaviors listed above.   The teens in this group, which accounted for about 13% of the participants, had an increased incidence of mental illness.

The second group was labeled the low risk group.  These teens reported none of the risk behaviors or a very low frequency of these behaviors.   This group accounted for about 58% of the participants.

The third group was the most surprising to the research team and was therefore labeled the invisible-risk group.  This group reported extensive use of media, primarily sedentary behavior, and lack of sleep, but did not report participating in the other risk behaviors.  This group, which included about 29% of the participants, reported similar levels of mental health issues including suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and depression as those in the high risk group.

The study indicates that teens that are spending a lot of time in front of screens and not getting enough physical activity or sleep may be as much at risk for mental health issues as those participating in the high risk behaviors generally associated with an increased risk of mental illness. 

While parents, educators, counselors, and other caregivers would take alcohol abuse, drug use, or other high risk behaviors as warning signs that something serious may be wrong and seek help, they are less likely to become concerned about the behaviors exhibited by the invisible-risk group.  The research suggests that teens engaging in these behaviors need to be assessed and monitored for mental health issues as closely as their high-risk peers.

One additional finding in the study was that boys who are at high risk for mental illness are more likely to fall into the high-risk group while girls are more likely to fall into the invisible-risk group.


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7 Things Parents Probably Don’t Know About Teen Depression

teen depression

As those with depression can feel like they are sinking into themselves, know the warning signs of teen depression (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

People often have a picture in their mind of what depression “looks like” but when that picture doesn’t line up with reality, it can keep people from getting the help that they need.  This is especially true when talking about teenagers who are dealing with depression.  Many parents simply don’t have the information they need to know when their teenager is acting out, like teenagers do, and when their behavior indicates a bigger problem.

More than half of all teenagers with mental health issues go untreated, it is important for parents to educate themselves about mental health issues during the teen years so they have the information they need to help their child if it becomes necessary.  To aid in that education, here are 7 things most parents don’t know about teen depression.

  1. Being “Depressed” and Having Depression are Different Things

Depression isn’t the angsty, moody behavior many teenagers experience on their way from adolescent to adult.  Teenagers are often overly dramatic and their responses to things can be over the top but these things are temporary.  Depression is not.  It is an overwhelming, pervasive, all-encompassing feeling of sadness and hopelessness.

  1. Depression Wears Many Masks

Most parents expect depression in teens to look like it is portrayed in television and film, with lots of crying and wearing of black.  But in truth, teens experience depression in different ways.  Some may be irritable or angry all the time.  Others may withdraw from friends and activities or change their sleeping or eating habits.  It won’t always look the way you expect it to.

  1. Depression Doesn’t Usually Go Away on its Own

While it can happen, depression in teens doesn’t usually go away by itself.  This is actually one of the red flags parents can look for if they suspect something is wrong.  Where moodiness and drama will come and go, depression sticks around.

  1. Depression Hurts

You have probably seen the commercials that use that for their tag line and this is just as true for teens as it is for adults.  Depression can cause real, lasting physical symptoms that make it even more challenging for teens to deal with their everyday lives.  Common physical symptoms include headaches, unexplained body aches, and stomach ailments.

  1. Depression Cripples Self Esteem

Teens who are struggling with depression can become oversensitive to any kind of reprimand, criticism, or rejection.  This kind of feedback from the world around them, including friends, parents, teachers, and coaches, feeds the feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness caused by the depression.

  1. Teens Don’t Always Pull Away from Everyone

Many adults with depression will pull away from everything and everyone in their lives.  This is not always true for teens.  Some teenagers will pull away from specific people while maintaining or creating new relationships with others.

  1. Depression Can Be Devastating

Depression is talked about so frequently in today’s society that we can overlook just how impactful it can be on the lives of those who struggle with it.  For teenagers, the impact can be devastating right now and for the rest of their lives.  This condition can cause problems with grades and attendance, affecting their overall school performance and impacting their college opportunities.  They may run away, use drugs or alcohol, or participate in other self-destructive behaviors that can lead to legal problems, violence, and other life-changing experiences.  This is why it is so important that parents know how to identify the signs of depression in their teens and do whatever is necessary to get them the help they need.



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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Resources for Parents of Teens

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder OCD

Know the signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD, is an anxiety disorder that affects people of all ages.  A person with OCD experiences severe anxiety related to specific things where the level of anxiety or worry doesn’t match what is happening.  The specific things that they have this reaction to are called obsessions.  Teenagers can develop obsessions related to normal teenage problems like making friends, doing well in school, or fitting in with peers.  But someone with OCD can develop an obsession about almost anything.

In order to deal with these obsessions, those with the condition will participate in ritualistic behaviors related to their obsession that help to ease the level of anxiety they are feeling.  These behaviors are called compulsions.   The need to perform this ritualized action can be so strong that it may feel impossible not to do it.

The following resources provide more information about OCD, how it is diagnosed, how it is treated, and what parents can do to support their teens.

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Children and Adolescents from  the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology – Provides a good overview of OCD in adolescents and provides links to other resources
  • OCD in Children and Teens from the International OCD Foundation – Offers parents insight in what it is like to live with OCD, an overview of treatment options, and a resource for finding help locally.
  • Child and Adolescent OCD from the National Alliance on Mental Illness – Gives parents a good overview of the most common obsessions and compulsions experienced by children and teens and discusses the effect OCD can have on the overall family
  • OCD in Teens from Beyond OCD – Offers a section of information ”Just for Teens” about this disorder that includes an overview of the disorder, a list of symptoms, information on why therapy works, and links to other resources
  • OCD in Children and Teens from the International OCD Foundation – Provides an explanation of what it can feel like to have OCD, a downloadable brochure about OCD, and links to information on treatment and other resources.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Overview from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America – Provides parents with basic information on symptoms, treatment options, and offers additional information on hoarding, which can sometimes accompany OCD, even in teens.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD  from the National Institutes of Mental Health – Provides a basic overview, information on symptoms and treatments, a description of common risk factors, and information on how to live with this disorder.
  • The Role of Personnel in School  from OCD Education Station, Beyond OCD – Although this resource is targeted at those who work in the school, it can provide valuable information for parents about what kinds of resources, assistance, and accommodations may be available to support their teen’s OCD during the school day.
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