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What Do We Say To Our Children About The Las Vegas Shooting?   Leave a comment

Let me start off by saying there are so many more qualified people than me to dive deep into counseling youth who are deeply troubled (beyond normal, whatever normal is) by this tragedy and others of a similar nature.

Most of the following are  words of help and understanding from Fred Rogers:

Look For The Helpers – “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

In these cases, young people are inevitably going to ask, “why would God let something like this happen”? For me (Greg), the answer will be “I’m not sure as I’m not God, and can’t speak in his place, but let’s look at all of the qualified people God put in that place to be able to help those in need”. You see, God is faithful to those who need his help.

Even if we wanted to, it would be impossible to give our children all the reasons for such things as war, terrorists, abuse, murders, major fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes. If they ask questions, our best answer may be to ask them, “What do you think happened?” If the answer is “I don’t know,” then the simplest reply might be something like, “I’m sad about the news, and I’m worried. But I love you, and I’m here to care for you.”
If we don’t let children know it’s okay to feel sad and scared, they may think something is wrong with them when they do feel that way. They certainly don’t need to hear all the details of what’s making us sad or scared, but if we can help them accept their own feelings as natural and normal, their feelings will be much more manageable for them.
Angry feelings are part of being human, especially when we feel powerless. One of the most important messages we can give our children is, “It’s okay to be angry, but it’s not okay to hurt ourselves or others.” Besides giving children the right to their anger, we can help them find constructive things to do with their feelings. This way, we’ll be giving them useful tools that will serve them all their life, and help them to become the worlds’ future peacemakers — the world’s future “helpers.”

Here are some helpful hints on helping young people during tragedies like this:

  • Do your best to keep the television off, or at least limit how much your child sees of any news event.
  • Try to keep yourself calm. Your presence can help your child feel more secure.
  • Give your child extra comfort and physical affection, like hugs or snuggling up together with a favorite book. Physical comfort goes a long way towards providing inner security. That closeness can nourish you, too.
  • Try to keep regular routines as normal as possible. Children and adults count on their familiar pattern of everyday life.
  • Plan something that you and your child enjoy doing together, like taking a walk, going on a picnic, having some quiet time, or doing something silly. It can help to know there are simple things in life that can help us feel better, in good times and in bad.
  • Even if children don’t mention what they’ve seen or heard in the news, it can help to ask what they think has happened. If parents don’t bring up the subject, children can be left with their misinterpretations. You may be really surprised at how much your child has heard from others.
  • Focus attention on the helpers, like the police, firemen, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and volunteers. It’s reassuring to know there are many caring people who are doing all they can to help others in this world.
  • Let your child know if you’re making a donation, going to a town meeting, writing a letter or e-mail of support, or taking some other action. It can help children to know that adults take many different active roles and that we don’t give in to helplessness in times of worldwide crisis.

Most importantly, don’t neglect the power of prayer. Pray for God to give you words to speak. Pray with your children to hear God’s voice in the midst of tragedy. Give God thanks and praise for providing helpers.

-Greg

Posted October 3, 2017 by sotpyouth in Uncategorized

A Sunday talk on sex, drugs, drinking and dying with the frat boys   Leave a comment

A Sunday talk on sex, drugs, drinking and dying with the frat boys

Published on September 17, 2017|Featured in: Best Advice, Careers: The Next Level, Education, Millennials, Social Impact
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Louis M. Profeta MDSign in to follow this author

Just an Emergency Physician at St. Vincent EM Physicians Inc., author, public speaker, but mostly a father and a husband

Most bowed their heads or held their hands across their mouths as I described how it would happen. I told them that they will awaken with the smell of shit filling their bedroom. The lights will probably be low and the shades pulled and, because they are just waking up, they might have trouble focusing their eyes, especially after a night of heavy partying.
“Damn it, Benny, did you fart or shit yourself?” they might yell out. “F.cking get out of here, you smell awful!”
Those are the words I told them that they might shout just before they flip on the lights or stumble out of bed and trip on the now blue and stiff body sporting a college T-shirt passed down from an older brother who graduated two years past.
Dead, waxy, with “rock-still” clouded eyes, you could never envision a stare so distant. You played pickup basketball yesterday at the campus rec center and Benny maybe hit one out of 10 threes. You blew him crap all day about it. Now, though, he is so still, laying among the pile of yet-to-be-washed clothes or wrapped up in a blanket on a piss-soaked IKEA futon delivered to him last week. You bought the TV and the coffee table. The top two drawers are yours.
“Think about it. Nobody gets up in the morning, brushes their teeth, combs their hair and says to themselves, ‘Today is the day I die,” I told them.
This was the second time I had given this talk — one I wish I could give to college students across the country as campuses now return to life. My son’s fraternity at Indiana University-Bloomington, a Big Ten school and my alma mater housed in limestone buildings in an impossibly picturesque college town, had invited me to sit in front of more than two dozen young men in the living room of their fraternity. It was the most beautiful of Sunday afternoons. They could have been doing anything else. They did not have to be here, but here they were.
So I walked them through it. I showed them how I would tell their mom and dad that they were dead and how mom would pull hunks of her hair out ‘til it bled and dad would punch the wall shattering a bone or two but not noticing, a river of snot pouring from his face. I described how his “brothers” from the frat would sit along the wall in the waiting room and sob. But, already, mom and dad would be blaming them for getting their kid drunk or stoned to the point puke bubbled up in his throat, then plugged his trachea, choking him just as surely as if they had taken their foot and crushed their child’s windpipe on their own.
“They will blame you for their child’s death until the day you die. Are you ready for that?” I asked.
They sat silent, not wanting to look up.
I spent a few minutes pretending to breathe like someone asleep under the influence of a large amount of alcohol or just a few sedatives but who was at real risk of aspirating vomit into their lungs, or choking on their own tongue as it falls to the back of their mouth. You could tell from the look on their faces they all knew someone who once breathed like that after passing out drunk and now they were wondering how close they might have come, how close.
I challenged them with how absolutely idiotic it was for them to think that, just because they had perhaps taken a first-aid class or read a what-to-do-with-a-drunk-friend primer on the internet they somehow now had the skill set to “monitor” a friend who passed out after the fifth vodka slammer.
“We use well-trained nurses, paramedics, sophisticated pulse oximetry and cardiac monitoring in our ER to assess these patients, not some pledge vying to become a ‘brother.’”
And they listened, and they listened intently. You could tell they wanted to know, and each one knew they needed to know.
“If you drink to the point that you do not have control of your faculties you are an idiot. If you encourage someone to get to that point you are an asshole and certainly no brother. Friends don’t do that. It takes one little mistake to ruin your life or someone else’s life forever.” The room stayed quiet for a bit, but you could tell they wanted to ask more questions.
“You guys have a chance to ask me anything you want. You’ve got an ER doc who practices in a level I trauma center and who is on the board of directors of a major metropolitan city crime lab standing right in front of you. What do you want to know?”
And the hands finally went up — I should have known better; you could tell they needed a bit of a break.
“What about Viagra, is it safe for people our age?” Nervous laughter erupted.
“Son, which part of erection lasting more than six hours don’t you understand?”
“Doc, that’s the whole point.”
“You’re 21 and in college. You have Tinder for God’s sake. If you can’t get an erection now, you’ve got a hell of a lot bigger problems than are fixable with Viagra. Besides, you know what we have to do for an erection lasting six hours? It’s called priapism and its treatment involves two large needles…” A collective groan of thirty men a few years removed from puberty filled the room.
“What about Red Bull?” another hand shot up.
“It’s just a boatload of caffeine; I’ve never understood mixing it with vodka. I guess if you like the taste, but what’s the point of mixing a stimulant and a sedative? Seems like a waste of good vodka to me, but I feel the same about Jack and Coke. It’s too easy to drink too much. Just…think about maybe not.”
“What about Ativan?”
“Mix it with alcohol of any kind and you got a decent chance of dying. Why do you need to pass out? What the hell are you doing with it anyway? That’s just stupid. If you are going to have a few drinks, then do that. If you are going to smoke some weed…well that’s one thing, but don’t fuck with prescription or non-prescription medications.”
“Can you tell us about cocaine”
“Yeah, use it once and you can die of a heart attack or have a stroke then you can spend the rest of your life in a nursing home with a feeding tube poking out of your stomach, in a diaper, limbs contracted, getting huge bed sores and urine infections. You are out of your f.cking mind if you use that. The same goes with heroin. You stand a good chance of dying or ending up brain damaged with even one single use. You guys need to kick out of your house anyone ever caught doing that shit. It’s horribly addictive, life-destroying garbage. I have never, ever met a person that was glad they started using it…even once. And you are now one degree of separation away from the worst criminal element on earth.”
“What about vaping.”
“It’s better than smoking.”
“What about Adderall?”
“It’s a stimulant too, it’s an amphetamine, you know like meth.”
“Yeah but nobody does that here…”
“Bullshit, pal.” I interrupted and snapped back. “This is the Midwest. Memphis has barbecue. We make meth. Besides you probably don’t have ADD; just try sleeping earlier, on occasion open a book and pay attention for a change.” More than a few snickered.
And we talked a bit about sexual assault and what they never, ever envisioned, and it became quiet again.
“Do you honestly think you would ever know or find out if one of your ‘brothers’ had been raped or sodomized? Do you honestly think that guys confide in anyone other than us in the ER that this has happened? You don’t think for one minute that if you follow some girl home and get passed-out drunk, some other guy or ex-boyfriend might not use your intoxicated state to seek revenge, humiliate you, soil your face, photograph you? You don’t think we see that?”
You could tell that it had never crossed their minds, but I’ve seen it.
And we talked more about women.
“You asked me here because you want to do the right thing; make the right choices. When it comes to women under the influence, don’t go there. Don’t sleep with them because no matter what, one of you may regret it and the reality is, they…will…not…believe…you. I don’t care if it was consensual. They will not believe you. Besides you all have moms or sisters that you respect. Me, I don’t have daughters, but if I did, I’d probably hate all you out of my own irrational fear as a father. If you are not absolutely sure she consents, then don’t have sex with her. It’s not worth it and it simply is not right. Be men, not animals.”
We talked some more, about other drugs and prevailing dangers of their time.
“I’m not here to preach about all the evils of sex, weed and alcohol to you. I’m not going to tell you to abstain, but just some food for thought. Studies clearly show though that your long-term earning potential will be less if you smoke weed on a regular basis. For that reason alone, I’d probably think twice, unless of course your lifelong dream is to always work for someone else. Weed typically doesn’t open doors in your life. Drink, but think about perhaps not getting drunk. Have sex, but have responsible sex based on mutual understanding and respect. If you have to think about whether or not it’s the right thing to do, then it’s the wrong thing to do. Doing the right thing is simply not that confusing. It may be hard to do, but it’s not that confusing.”
“I’m a parent,” I said, as I motioned to my child who seemed proud that I was there and I was proud that he asked me. “I want you to have a great college experience that helps prepare you for a long, healthy and happy future. We understand each other?” They nodded. “You can always call me or one of my partners, or go to any ER in America if you need help or are scared or confused or worried or lost. Don’t make me go into that quiet room, kneel in front of your mother and tell her you’re dead…please.” They all nodded one final time.
And I could tell, on this sunny Sunday afternoon, that they were listening and that what I said mattered to them and it gave me hope. It gave me hope.
Dr. Louis M. Profeta is an emergency physician practicing in Indianapolis. He is one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices and the author of the critically acclaimed book, The Patient in Room Nine Says He’s God.
Feedback at louermd@att.net is welcomed.

Posted September 18, 2017 by sotpyouth in Uncategorized

What Happens in an Internet Minute in 2016?   Leave a comment

Jeff Desjardins

on April 25, 2016 at 10:52 am

Last week, we published U.S. consumption numbers in real-time, highlighting the speed at which physical goods and services are purchased.

Today, we enter into the digital realm to see what happens every minute on the internet. The statistics are mind-boggling and put in perspective how scalable platforms have taken over the world:

The above infographic shows how truly important the element of scale is to business today.

Google literally processes 2.4 million searches every minute. In that same span of time, 700,000 people login to Facebook and Amazon sells over $200,000 of physical and digital goods.

Platforms such as the ones listed above are comparable in magnitude to other mega-sized companies, but without the intense capital expenditures, debt, or hard costs. That’s why Alphabet, Google’s parent company, can spend over a billion dollars each year on “moonshots”, and why Facebook’s stock is up 35.6% over the last 52 weeks.

Here are the full stats on what happens every internet minute:

  • 701,389 logins on Facebook
  • 69,444 hours watched on Netflix
  • 150 million emails sent
  • 1,389 Uber rides
  • 527,760 photos shared on Snapchat
  • 51,000 app downloads on Apple’s App Store
  • $203,596 in sales on Amazon.com
  • 120+ new Linkedin accounts
  • 347,222 tweets on Twitter
  • 28,194 new posts to Instagram
  • 38,052 hours of music listened to on Spotify
  • 1.04 million vine loops
  • 2.4 million search queries on Google
  • 972,222 Tinder swipes
  • 2.78 million video views on Youtube
  • 20.8 million messages on WhatsApp

That’s a lot of data every minute, and this volume of information is part of the reason that these same companies are prioritizing the ability to process and interpret big data more than ever before.

Original graphic by: Excelacom

Posted April 5, 2017 by sotpyouth in Uncategorized

The Letter I Wrote To My Teenage Son About Drinking   Leave a comment

Parents,

This is such an important reminder that we have the responsibility to make sure that our kids know the importance of following the law (as well as parents following the law to not provide alcohol to those under 21). I know this may sound harsh, but I find it completely ridiculous that there are weak parents out there who give up and take on the attitude that kids are going to it, so I might as well let them do it at home. What message are we sending our kids? That it’s ok to break the laws we wish to break? Instead, we need to let our kids know that we value them and their safety and health, and that in no way is it acceptable to drink alcohol until they are of legal age.

God has entrusted us to care for and love our children in the best way we can. That is our most important job!

Parents – Stand strong! Don’t compromise your values. Talk to your kids. Don’t give in.

For those parents who have given in – It’s not too late. You’re the parent. Tell your kids you’ve changed your mind and why.

A mom writes a letter about underage drinking and reminds her son of the family values that she holds dear. 

As hard as it is for me to believe this, I’m the mother of a teenager. In fact Tom will be entering 10th grade this September.

The years have gone so fast that I really feel as if one day I was taking pictures of him graduating from our Mommy and Me class, the next day I couldn’t believe he was in the fourth grade, and then bang, he was in high school.

Play dates at friends houses have been replaced by going out for sushi, a movie, or walking around town with his buddies. Alone. No adults watching over them.

Instead of chatting with his friends’ parents over coffee at kitchen tables, we wave to them out of car windows.

A parent discusses drinking alcohol with her teen

The times they are a changin.

Whenever my family or friends ask about Tom and marvel at the fact that he is now a teenager, the subject of alcohol and drugs always seems to come up. As in, how will I handle it when he comes home drunk for the first time? Or what will I do if I find out that he had been using drugs?

[More on binge drinking and the impact on teenage brains here.]

I always find the questions a bit baffling because it’s just assumed that Tom will try these things. In fact the common answer I get from most of my friends and family is that of course he will.

Truth be told, I find this mindset maddening. And if I was a kid today, I would find it really confusing.

From the time Tom was in kindergarten, he has been learning in school that drinking and drugs are dangerous choices. He has read books and been shown movies about how alcohol can affect your judgment and make it easier to engage in other risky behaviors like unprotected sex or driving under the influence.

In eighth grade his health teacher made the whole class write letters addressed to themselves making the promise that they won’t smoke, drink, or have unprotected sex in high school.

Yet so many parents take it as a foregone conclusion that their kids will engage in any manner of risky behavior.

I’ve been accused of living in “La La Land” if I think otherwise. “Kids will be kids,” some say. Others will chime in with, “after all we did it.”

[More on the argument for tolerating teenage drinking here.]

Really? Is this the criteria we are going to base our parenting on?

I get it. My son is growing up, and he’s going to have to make choices for himself.

I want him to spread his wings and discover who he is. And as much as some people think I’m living under a rock, I do know that he is going to make mistakes along the way.

But, I want him to know where I stand on engaging in behaviors that are at best risky and at worst illegal or life threatening.

I never want my son to say that I wasn’t clear about my feelings — so I’m writing them out here, for all to see.

Dear Tom,

The legal drinking age in this country is 21. Please know that Dad and I will never allow you to have alcohol in our house or in our presence until you reach that age. Please also know that no good has ever come from a group of teenagers drinking. It’s a recipe for all kinds of disasters.

If you should choose to drink, you’ll not only be breaking the rules of our house, you’ll be breaking the law.

If you get stopped for driving under the influence, or the police get called to a party where you have been drinking, you may be in a position where we can’t protect you.

Always call me and your dad. ALWAYS. No matter what you have done.

Don’t ever follow up a bad choice with one that’s worse just because you’re afraid of disappointing us or making us angry.

Will we be happy? Of course not. But we would much rather get you and any friend that wants to come with you home safely, then get a call that you are NEVER coming home.

Let me be clear that the fact that we love you and will stand by you does not in any way mean we will stand by while you do things that you know aren’t good for you.

There will be those who will tell you that your parents are being unreasonable and totally unrealistic. Some may tell you that you are a teenager and that it’s a rite of passage to get drunk. They may even regale you with stories of their own youthful mistakes.

Listen to your own heart and trust your gut. Also know there is nothing cool about waking up in your own vomit, or having a DUI before you are 18.

Your father and I are so proud of the man you are becoming. We love you so much that we don’t care if you hate us. That’s our gift to you, we are your parents not your friends.

Always,

Mom

This post originally appeared on My Dishwasher’s Possessed! 

Related:

Teen Brain: What Parents Need to Know

Clean is Sexy and 58 Other Bits of Advice for Young Men

Dear Mom of High School Sophomore 

kathy-head-shot

Kathy Radigan is a writer, blogger, social media addict, mom to three, wife to one and owner of a possessed appliance. She posts a weekly essay each Sunday on her blog, My dishwasher’s possessed!Kathy is a Huffington Post blogger and a frequent contributor to What the Flicka and Scary Mommy.. Her work has also been featured on, Yahoo, Elephant Journal, What to Expect,and other online publications. Kathy lives outside New York City with her family. You can follow her on  Facebook, Twitter

Posted November 14, 2016 by sotpyouth in Drugs/Alcohol, Family

5 Reasons Every Student Should Go On Mission Trips   Leave a comment

By Sam Townsend for Youthworks.com, 

1. Mission Trips Bring Youth Groups Together.

If you’ve ever been on a weekend student retreat, you know how that experience can build community. Teenagers ride together, play together, eat together, stay up late together, get up tired together… “Together” is a powerful word. Think of “together” as glue – the more broadly it’s spread, the better a youth group will bond. Mission trips apply “together” to students’ sense of adventure, their desire serve, their relationship with God, their daily experiences, their broken comfort zones and much more (including these things below!).

2. Mission Trips Broaden Perspectives.

Teenagers might be more connected than ever with what’s happening around the world, but have they seen what it’s like to live below the poverty line in small-town America? Or experienced the energy and exhaustion of inner-city living? Or felt the heartbeat of Native America beaten across the taut surface of a drum? Pulling teenagers from their typical context helps them understand that the world is larger that their daily lives would have them believe. By beginning to understand another setting, their own context comes into truer focus.

3. Mission Trips Challenge Comfort Zones.

Beyond broadening perspectives, mission trips demand that teenagers participate. Painting a house, playing with kids, serving a meal, sleeping on an air mattress, experiencing a new culture – these are a few examples of ways comfort zones are crossed. But when coupled with intentional processing and worship, mission trips have the unique ability to challenge students’ comfortable perceptions of God and the world. Faith steps beyond the doors of the church and demands to be applied to real-world living.

4. Mission Trips Empower Students.

God is doing incredible work through the Church. The energy, authenticity, fresh perspective and passion teenagers bring are a vibrant part of that church. Done well, mission trips help students take ownership and initiative. Eyes are opened. Passions are ignited. Possibilities are exposed. Pursuits begin. Mission trips help teenagers see what they are capable of. But first, the Church chooses to believe in the incredible opportunity of being a teenager – not a possibility to be met “someday,” but a boiling potential just waiting to overflow.

5. Mission Trips Create Sacred Space.

The Israelites used to build monuments by throwing together big piles of rocks to point at later and say, “That signifies God’s faithfulness in our nation.” For many teenagers, mission trips represent a time and a place when God worked in and through their lives. More than a mere mountain-top high, these sacred spaces both anchor students in their faith and propel them forward in their relationship with God. Even in times of trouble, teenagers often point toward their mission trip experience and say, “That signifies God’s faithfulness in my life.”

Posted March 17, 2016 by sotpyouth in Uncategorized

Watch this- Please implore your kids not to text and drive…   Leave a comment

It’s getting worse, or maybe I’m noticing it more now that it’s illegal. On any given day, I see numerous people either slyly, or blatantly texting, or being on their phone. Usually it’s an inconvenience to me, due to someone not noticing the light change and I have to sit through another red light.

Liz Mark’s story really struck me. Although your kid texting while driving might inconvenience me, it could change your family forever.

Please watch Liz Mark’s Texting and Driving Story and talk to your driving age children about it. – Greg

Posted April 6, 2015 by sotpyouth in General, Media, Technology

10 Things Teens Won’t Tell You   Leave a comment

10 things teens won’t tell you

Published: Aug 16, 2014 8:11 a.m. ET

The secret and costly life of the American teenager

Chip Wass

1. America will look a lot different when we grow up.

Like every generation of adolescents, today’s teens have habits that are utterly unfamiliar to their parents. The roughly 25 million Americans between the ages of 13 and 18 grew up with Facebook and Netflix. They’re more likely to hang out at Chipotle and Starbucks, and less likely to hang out at the mall, than teens of 20 or even 10 years ago.

But teens’ attitudes are also being shaped by an era where people are less likely to assume that a “typical” American family is straight and white. “They’re the most socially and ethnically diverse of all generations,” says Sharalyn Hartwell, executive director at consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates, which studies teenage demographics. While their parents saw Morgan Freeman as the U.S. president in the 1998 movie “Deep Impact,” modern teens grew up with the real-life Obama White House.

Shutterstock.com
Ready to live in a nontraditional nation.

Only 55% of Americans 18 and under are Caucasian, compared with 72% of baby boomers, according to Magid. Not coincidentally, teenagers and “tweens” are more comfortable with the country’s changing ethnic balance. Some 47% say they feel positively about the U.S. becoming more ethnically diverse, compared with 32% of boomers.

Teenagers are also growing up in a society where same-sex marriage is more widely accepted, and, as a result, television shows aimed at their age group reflect this new reality, she adds. Disney’s “Good Luck Charlie” featured a same-sex couple, ABC Family’s “The Fosters” is a television show about a family with two moms, and ABC’s prime-time comedy “Modern Family” features a male same-sex couple that wrapped its last season with a wedding.

Today’s teens and tweens are also more likely than earlier generations to be the products of a particularly hands-on style of parenting—one that involves 24/7 online monitoring and more involvement in their education. Demographers and researchers say that such tighter-knit parenting can have an impact on how these teens will perceive the world as they become adults: They’ll be more likely to be realistic about their future and to embrace change—though if the parenting was too claustrophobic or authoritarian, they’ll also be more likely to be rebellious and get along poorly with others.

Also read: 10 things Generation X won’t tell you.

2. We’re one click ahead of you online

Some 95% of teenagers are online compared with around 80% of the overall population, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. In theory, that should make it easier for parents to keep up with them and track their behavior. But teens are light on their feet, and data suggests that teens are quietly fleeing mainstream social sites that have been adopted by their parents

Snapchat

During 2013, the share of teens active on Facebook dropped by 9 percentage points, while on Twitter it dropped 3 points, according to research firm GlobalWebIndex. Teens are gravitating instead to services like Blink and Snapchat, where messages are easier to keep private. “Video apps like Instagram and Vine are also playing a much larger role with this generation,” adds Jeanne Connon, chief marketing officer of FPgirl.com, a marketing firm that analyzes fashion, technology, trends and relationships among young girls. What’s more, teens are adept at hiding apps in folders on their computers or mobile devices to make them more difficult to find.

Parents are doing their best to play catch-up, Connon says, but it’s still an uphill battle. Around 1 in 5 tweens and young teenagers in middle school have received a sexually explicit message or photo, according to a survey of 1,200 middle school students published in July in the “American Academy of Pediatrics.” Those who received such a text were also six times more likely to be sexually active.

Also see: Teens rebel against Facebook.

3. We’re sooo bored…with the shopping mall

Teen-oriented retailers, take note: Shopping may be losing its mystique among the under -18 set. The latest retailing survey by investment bank Piper Jaffray found that the average teenager spent $1,000 on fashion annually, down from $1,300 in 2006, and took 29 shopping trips a year, down from 38 in 2007. For the first time in the survey’s 13-year history, they spent a bigger share of their spending money on food than clothing (20.8% versus 20.7%).

AFP/Getty Images
Online shopping may make the teenage mall-rat an endangered species.

The big issue here is that teenagers are shopping with their tablets and smartphones, rather than in person: 75% of teenage girls and 50% of teenage boys says they prefer shopping online than in-store. (They spend an average of $56.50 per shopping trip when they do make it to a brick-and-mortar store.) “Teens are browsing regularly on their mobile devices, shopping less frequently and engaging with brands on demand,” says Steph Wissink, senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray.

Teens’ spending may be waning because their parents are economizing: They remain heavily dependent on the fortunes of their parents, who contribute around 65% of their annual spending, according to the report. And while they do have a penchant for expensive clothing brands, there are only one or two that have a firm hold over them: 19% of male teenagers prefer Nike and the same percentage of female teenagers prefer Lululemon leggings.

4. We do drugs (but not the same ones you did)

Around 36% of high-school students report having used marijuana at least once within the previous 12 months, according to data released in July the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. That’s down from 41% in 1998. The share of teenagers who used alcohol over the past year has declined more sharply, to 51% in 2013 from 68% in 1998.

Shutterstock.com
Marijuana remains popular with teens, but prescription drug abuse is rising faster.

Use of other drugs, however, have risen slightly: 23% of teens admit to abusing or misusing prescription drugs, at least once in their lifetime, up from 20% five years ago, and one in six report doing so within the past year. Pain medications like Oxycodone and Vicodin and “study drugs” that combat attention-deficit-disorder are among the most commonly abused, according to Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. And abuse of human growth hormone (HGH)—often used by athletes seeking to add muscle—has risen among teens to 11% in 2013 from 5% a year earlier.

“They are not doing [these drugs] to get high, they’re doing it because they think they can stay up studying to get better grades, to relax and get fit,” says Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Also see: Cocaine use is going to pot.

5. We can’t do financial math (but neither can you)

American teens don’t fare so well on the “Program for International Student Assessment,” an international survey of financial literacy conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development every three years. The most recent version, released in July, tested more than 510,000 15-year-olds across 18 countries. Americans scored below average (492 points versus an OECD average of 500 points), finishing behind China (No. 1 with an average of 603 points), Belgium (541), Estonia (529), Australia (526 points) and New Zealand (520).

Why Johnny can’t understand derivatives

Can the U.S. improve financial literacy? We ask Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Experts blame the system—not the students. “Teenagers don’t know about financial literacy because adults have a low level of financial literacy too,” says AnnaMaria Lusardi, a professor of economics and accountancy at George Washington University School of Business. In a 2011 study conducted by Lusardi, only 30% of U.S. adults gave correct answers to three basic questions concerning numeracy, inflation and risk diversification (versus 53% in Germany and 45% in the Netherlands). Nonetheless, 62% of teens say their parents are good financial role models, according to a survey by tax preparers H&R Block.

Some states are making efforts to fill this knowledge gap, introducing more economics and personal finance classes. For the first time, all 50 states and D.C. now include economics in their K-12 standards, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Council of Economic Education. Still, only 22 states require students to take an economics course as a high school graduation prerequisite, and only six states require the testing of student knowledge in personal finance.

6. Your recession-era stress is contagious

Teens report having stress levels that surpass that of their parents during the school year, a recent survey by the American Psychological Association found. Teens reported stress levels of 5.8 on a 10-point scale, compared with 5.1 for adults; those levels declined to 4.6 for teens during the summer, but that still ranked above the 3.9 score that’s considered normal. One-third of teens reported symptoms of fatigue related to their stress, more than one-quarter said they skipped meals, and some 30% said they felt overwhelmed or depressed.

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School is a drag; parental stress, even more so.

Nearly 40% of parents say their high school kids experience stress, according to a 2013 Harvard School of Public Health Survey conducted for National Public Radio. About one-quarter of high-school students’ parents said homework caused their child a lot of stress, the survey found.

But school is far from the only factor, experts say. Teens pick up coping mechanisms or a lack thereof from their parents, and they’re also more likely to experience parental divorce than children were 20 years ago, says Lynn Bufka, assistant executive director for practice research and policy at the American Psychological Association. The impact of stress over divorce and financial trouble gets passed onto children who may also feel less able to tell their parents or teachers that they’re feeling stressed out, she says. “Often times, they don’t want to add to their parents’ burden,” Bufka says. If a child has a problem turning in homework or lack of attention, she adds, parents should tell teachers what’s going on at home.

One potentially positive sign for college-bound teens: The SAT will undergo a revamp in 2016 in ways the experts say will make it somewhat less demanding.

7. Our hunger for gadgets will cost you billions

Remember when loose-leaf binders and a new backpack were all the school supplies you needed? Parents are set to spend $8.4 billion on back-to-school electronics this year, including computers, tablets and smartphones, up 7% from last year, according to the National Retail Federation. Back-to-school shoppers will spend an average $212.35 per household on electronic items.

Stanislav Komogorov/Shutterstock

Phones are a major driver of this spending: About 27% of teens owned smartphones last year, up from 23% in 2011. Howard Schaffer, vice president of retailing website Offers.com, says these mobile devices are seen as critical by parents because they allow them to keep tabs on their kids via geolocation apps like “Trick or Tracker” or “Connect.”

Some parents say they’re trying to moderate the back-to-school tech spending this year. Only 37% of parents are buying tablets or computers, compared with 61% who will underwrite clothing and 55% who will buy shoes for their kids, according to a survey of 1,000 parents by Offers.com. And 36% say they’ll spend more than $200 per child on technology, down from 45% in 2013; Schaffer says that reflects the fact that computers and smartphones are lasting longer.

Also see: 5 apps for spying on your spouse.

8. We’ll double the price of your car insurance

Adding a teenage driver to a married couple’s car insurance can be a financial tsunami for the typical family. According to a report by insuranceQuotes.com, a division of personal finance site Bankrate.com, adding a male teenager hikes premiums by an average of 92%; while female teen drivers hike premiums by 67%. The good news for parents: The older their child becomes, the lower the premium. The premium hike falls from 96% for 16-year-olds to 58% for 19-year-olds.

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Texting and driving: Bad at any age, particularly troublesome among teens.

The most expensive state to insure a teenage driver is New Hampshire, where the average premium surged 111%. Hawaii is the only state that prohibits age, gender and length of driving experience from affecting car insurance costs, so teen drivers there cost only 17% more to insure on their parents policy.

That said, more families are dodging this bill these days. There are fewer teens on the road, says Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst at BankRateInsurance.com. Twenty years ago, 70% of 18-year-olds had their driver’s license, she says, but today only 54% do, due in part to the rising cost of car ownership, increased unemployment among teens, and the increased use of social media (rather than face-to-face time) for teenage socializing.

There are other ways to minimize the financial damage: For example, some cars are cheaper to insure than others. “Choose a model that has a low crash history,” says Russ Rader, spokesman for the Highway Loss Data Institute, which publishes insurance claim data. Larger, heavier family cars such as Toyota Corollas, Ford sedans or Subarus are safer for teens, and their insurance rates reflect that. Many insurance companies offer a “good student” discount for those with B averages or better, adds Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds.com. “A friend of mine told his teen driver that if he got a B average, he would split his insurance savings with him,” he says. “It was good motivation and a gain for both of them.”

9. We get bullied, even when we’re popular

Teenage movies from “Clueless” (1995) to “Mean Girls” (2004) show the hazards of being on the low end of the status scale at high school. But a recent study offers evidence that popular kids get bullied, too.

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Being popular doesn’t mean they’re safe.

For the paper “Causality of Social Combat: School Networks of Peer Victimization and Their Consequences” (links to pdf), researchers at the University of California and Pennsylvania State University studied 4,200 high-school students across 19 schools. They found that students’ chances of being bullied rise 25% if they move from a group with average popularity to the 95th percentile, beyond which victimization begins to drop. (Popularity was measured based on friendship nominations among students.) Those with higher social status also experienced stronger adverse psychological consequences when bullied—because they felt like they had more to lose. More popular kids may also escape the radar of concerned educators and parents who focus on isolated students. The study also found that females are victimized 30% more often than males and “social isolates” are bullied 23% more often than others.

There has been a major push to combat bullying in recent years, including suicide prevention campaigns such as the LGBT-focused “It gets better” social media effort, which featured videos from sports stars, celebrities and politicians, including President Obama. In 2012, the Department of Education released a free training tool kit aimed at reducing bullying in schools. But 17% of students report being bullied 2 to 3 times a month during a school semester, and 1 in 10 drop out because of bullying, according to DoSomething.org, a nonprofit organization focused on young people and social change.

10. We don’t buy into the American Dream

Like member of other generations, most teens define the American Dream as involving homeownership, educational opportunities, a high standard of living and the likelihood of doing better than the previous generation. But teens are more likely to see that Dream as out of reach. According to a survey by Magid Associates, only 60% of teens and tweens believe in the American Dream compared with 71% of millennials, 64% of Generation Xers and 75% of boomers.

Although most teens are too young to remember 9/11, they’re not too young to recall how their parents struggled during the recession. “They’re influenced by their Gen X parents and older siblings,” Hartwell says. Many Xers were clobbered financially by the housing bubble, while millennials have more college debt than any previous generation of Americans. Older role models are “telling these kids that it’s not going to be better for you just because it should be.”

But that doesn’t necessarily make teens negative or pessimistic, it makes them pragmatic and realistic. “They still have the optimism of youth,” Hartwell says.

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Facts & Dreams

"Each man should frame life so that at some future hour fact and his dreaming meet." -Victor Hugo