Entries in Teenagers (37)


Texting While Driving Common Among Teens

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Teens frequently engage in high-risk behavior, notably sending text messages while driving, according to data from a new study.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conduct a Youth Risk Behavior Survey every two years. Data for the 2011 survey showed that nearly 43 percent of teenagers reported texting or emailing while driving. Males were more likely to text while driving with 46 percent as compared to 40 percent of females.

Older teens were also more likely to text and drive, with 52 percent of 18-year-olds saying they had done so, compared to 26 percent of 15-year-olds.

Teens who admitted to texting while driving were also more prone to engaging in other high-risk behaviors, including drinking alcohol, indoor tanning and unprotected sex.

The study did note, however, that prohibitive legislation is effective in minimizing at least one form of risky teen behavior. In states where texting while driving is illegal, just 39.3 percent of teens admitting to distracted driving, as compared to 43.5 percent in states without such legislation.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


CDC: Dip in Oral Sex Among Teens, But Numbers Still High

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released data on Thursday that revealed an overall decrease in oral sex among adolescents between 2002 and 2010, reflecting a similar small decline in vaginal intercourse within the same age group.

A drop in oral sex was seen among females, but the numbers of males engaged in the behavior was the same.

Experts said two-thirds of all youth between the ages of 15 and 24 had an experience with oral sex, risky behavior that the federal government said is contributing to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

The report, "Prevalence and Timing of Oral Sex With Opposite-Sex Partners Among Females and Males Aged 15-24 Years: United States," included data from the CDC's National Survey of Family Growth.  The data came from 6,346 interviews among young adults from 2007 to 2010.

In the youngest group, ages 15 to 19, which did not include married males, the report said that 41 percent of females and 47 percent of males had received oral sex.  Forty-three percent of girls in that group had given oral sex, while 35 percent of boys had.

For both sexes between the ages of 20 to 24, the numbers go up: 81 percent of females and 80 percent of males had engaged in oral sex.

Some data suggest that many adolescents engage in oral sex because they believe it is safer and preserves their virginity, according to a CDC 2009 fact sheet.

The CDC has taken an increased interest in the data because of the rise of sexually transmitted diseases, including a spike in HIV infection rates among males 13 to 29 years old. Although the risk for HIV/AIDS through oral sex is lower than vaginal intercourse or anal sex, according to the CDC, the transmission rates for genital herpes, gonorrhea and syphilis are considerably higher. Some studies have found that an increase in oral cancers in the United States is associated with the human papillomavirus, and researchers attribute that to the popularity of oral sex.

One of the findings of the NCHS report was that of those adolescents who'd had oral sex, only 5.1 percent of females and 6.5 percent of males stopped there.  The overwhelming majority of 15- to 24-year-olds went on to have vaginal intercourse. These findings underscore previous studies that found having oral sex was a strong indicator for engaging in sexual intercourse.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Grateful Teens Have More Positive Mental Health 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study suggests that helping teenagers learn to be grateful can play a significant role in positive mental health, Health Day reports.

The findings of the study revealed that life satisfaction, happiness, positive attitudes, hope and academic performance increase with more gratitude. The author of the study said he found an association with critical life skills like cooperation, a sense of purpose, creativity and persistence among teens who say they feel grateful for various things in their lives.

The study involved 700 students, aged 10 to 14, living in New York. The participants were white (67 percent), Asian American (11 percent), black (10 percent) and Hispanic (1.4 percent), and around 11 percent were from other backgrounds or did not identify their race. Socioeconomic factors and parental educational attainment were factors in the study, but religious beliefs were not.

Researchers had students complete questionnaires over a period of four years to obtain their results. The study was funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sexting Among Teens on the Rise, Says Study

Goodshoot RF/Thinkstock(GALVESTON, Texas) -- Nearly 30 percent of high school students have sent sexually explicit messages via their cellphones, according to a new study published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.  The latest finding marks a rise over previous studies.

Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston surveyed seven Texas high schools and found that 28 percent of nearly 1,000 students had sent a sext, and 31 percent had requested one from someone else.  More than half of the students surveyed had been asked for a nude photo.

Most teens surveyed said they were at least somewhat bothered when asked for a sext.  Twenty-seven percent of girls reportedly felt very bothered by the invitations versus 3 percent of boys.

Kids who sexted were more likely to be having sex, and girls who sexted were more likely to participate in risky sexual behavior, including having multiple sexual partners and using drugs or alcohol before sex, the survey found.

"Sexting may be a fairly reliable indicator of sexual behaviors," said Jeff R. Temple, lead author of the study and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Texas at Medical Branch.

Temple did emphasize that sexting is not necessarily a cause or a consequence of risky sex, but just an associated behavior.

"Relative to sex, sexting may be a less tension-filled or scary topic to bring up with teens, and thus could provide an opportunity to discuss sexual behaviors and safe sex," he said.

The researchers suggested that pediatricians consider screening for sexting behaviors as an opportunity to talk about safe sex.  Parents should also talk to their children about sexting, as it may be a good transition into a talk about sex in general.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Health Study: Outdoor Active Teenagers are Happier than Non Active Teens

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK)-- A study published in the July issue of Pediatrics from 2004 to 2009 in Australia has found that teens who participate in more moderate-to-vigorous outdoor activities are more healthier and sociable than their peers who watch television and surf the net instead, according to HealthDay News.

The research done at the University of Sydney, found that youths who spent about 2 and a half hours playing sports or participating in high intensive activities had the highest percentage of health. In addition, according to the researcher’s findings, youth spent around 3.3 hours a day playing video games, watching television, and 2.1 hours in physical activity.

Approximately 1,216 teens were asked on the questionnaire how much time they spent on outdoor exercise compared to sedentary activities. In addition,  the teens were asked how much time they spent on computers, television and reading. Students were questioned beginning at age 12 and again at age 17. The findings suggest that the teens who were more active had higher social functioning skills as opposed to teens who did not exercise.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Some Teens May Be Pre-Wired for Addiction

(BURLINGTON, Vt.) -- Babies instinctively clutch on fingers and seek out their mother’s voice.  For many, it takes little effort to understand the difference between laughter and anger.

But how instinctive is a teen’s desire to snort a line of coke?

In the largest functional brain imaging study ever performed, researchers report findings that suggest that poor impulse control is pre-wired in some individuals. Specifically, they say that they have identified specific brain networks linked to impulse control and drug addiction — and that these differences exist even before an individual is exposed to drugs or alcohol.

To determine this, the researchers used a scan called a functional MRI, which allowed them to examine how different parts of the brain work together in real time. They “peeked into” the brains of nearly 1,900 14-year-olds while they asked them to perform repetitive tasks, and then measured their ability to stop mid-task.  Called “stop-signal reaction time,” it is a measure that is used to gauge inhibitory control. Patients who abuse drugs or alcohol perform poorly on this test.  So do children with ADHD.

“These networks are not working as well for some kids as they are for others,” says Dr. Robert Whelan of the University of Vermont, the lead researcher in this investigation.  

Whelan explains how they were able to break down how different brain networks were involved with specific types of impulses.

Interestingly, they were able to identify teens who had prior exposure to alcohol, nicotine, or other illicit drugs and were able to identify specific brain patterns associated with early experimentation with these substances.  Furthermore, teens with poor impulse control, but no prior substance use had brain images similar to those who had already admitted use.

The findings suggest that there may be an opportunity to identify teens at risk before they indulge. “While identifying those at greatest risk of addiction is a complex process with many different factors involved, identifying brain networks specific to impulse control represents the first step” says Whelan.

According to the National Institute of Health, more than 40 percent of U.S. high-school seniors report drinking alcohol, 21 percent have used marijuana, and 8 percent have used Vicodin unrelated to a medical condition.

The study also looked at brain images of teens suffering from ADHD.  Two million American children are affected with ADHD, and a disproportionate number become alcohol or drug abusers.  The cause-and-effect literature regarding ADHD and substance abuse is mixed.   Many with ADHD also suffer with various other psychiatric disturbances, such as depression, bipolar disorder or conduct disorder, increasing their substance abuse risk.  Both ADHD and substance abusers have impulse-control issues at their core.

In agreement with prior studies, both adolescents with a history of ADHD or a history of alcohol or drug use had poor impulse control scores.  But researchers found that the brain networks activated in teens with ADHD were different than the ones associated with early drug use.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Electronic Devices a Leading Distraction for Teen Drivers

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- When it comes to teenagers behind the wheel, the use of electronic devices — to text or to talk on a hands-free phone — is the No. 1 distracted-driving behavior, according to the findings of a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

In the final phase of a three-part study that used data recorders in the cars of 50 North Carolina families with a novice teenage driver, researchers examined six months of video clips for each family.

A total of 52 drivers were recorded — 38 of whom had just received their licenses, and 14 teen siblings. In nearly 8,000 clips, electronic devices were used nearly 7 percent of the time, accounting for more than any other distracted-driving behavior,  such as adjusting controls, eating and drinking or turning around.

And girls were the worst offenders. In video clips, they used electronic devices 7.9 percent of the time, while boys clocked in at 4 percent. The time of day or day of week did not affect distracted-driving behavior.

The study also found that teenage drivers were three times more likely to take their eyes off the road when using these devices.

Carol Ronis, the foundation’s senior communications manager, said the study was important because car crashes remained the leading cause of death for teenagers in America. Teen car crashes are roughly four times higher than they are for adults.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fake Pot Sending Increasing Number of Kids to ER

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An increasing number of teens and young adults are turning to synthetic marijuana compounds with nicknames such as "K2," "Spice" and "Mr. Smiley" in search of a legal high.  But as several new case reports point out, more and more teens and young adults who use these substances are turning up in hospitals with signs of intoxication.

In the latest edition of the journal Pediatrics, physicians from Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., presented three case studies of teenagers who came to the emergency room after they each ingested fake pot.

Each teen suffered from a variety of serious adverse effects after they ingested these marijuana-mimicking substances.  The authors described symptoms such as rapid heart beat, high blood pressure, excessive sweating and rigidity.  Two of them also became extremely agitated. 

All three survived and were eventually released from the hospital.

"We became concerned about it after seeing these teenagers, and when we researched the literature, we realized there is very little out there about the effects of these compounds," said Dr. Joanna Cohen, lead author and associate professor of pediatric emergency medicine at Children's National Medical Center.  "We wanted to publish these case reports mostly because we wanted to share the information we had gathered to let the medical community know what we were seeing."

These compounds are banned in almost every state, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration recently extended a ban on some of the chemicals used to produce these substances.

The compounds are relatively new, and clinicians don't always immediately realize what's going on with people who come to emergency rooms after smoking them.  The chemicals also do not show up in routine drug screenings.

The teenagers told medical staff what substances they smoked, which Cohen said is the only way staff knew what caused their symptoms.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Facebook Shuts Down ‘Most Beautiful Teen’ Page

Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A Facebook page that solicited sexy pictures from teenagers hoping to be named the “The Most Beautiful Teen in the World” has been taken down after it sparked outrage from concerned parents and security experts.

The page violated Facebook’s statement of rights and responsibilities, Facebook said in a statement Wednesday. “We do not tolerate bullying and take action on content reported to us which we categorize as such,” the statement read.

Teens began uploading pictures on the “Competition for the Most Beautiful Teenager” page as soon as it was created. The often-provocative photos, many showing boys with their shirts off and girls in bikinis, posing in their bedrooms and bathrooms were then judged by other Facebook users in comments for all to see.

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“I would not touch with a ten-foot pole,” one comment read.

“Her nose is too big,” another read.

The harsh language and the concept of such a competition were too much for Marcy Kemp-Rank, whose 15-year-old daughter, Amy, introduced her to the site after submitting her own photos to be judged.

“She read them [the comments] to me, several of them, and I couldn’t handle hearing them because it just made me very upset and angry,” Kemp-Rank told ABC News.  “I think that was a good thing they took it down.  I think it was a way of bullying.”

The “Competition for the Most Beautiful Teenager” page, and the many like it still available to teens on other websites, also raised red flags, security experts say, about online predators.

The page shut down by Facebook was open to anyone, meaning it did not require users to “friend” the publisher, or “like” the page in order to log on and see the thousands of pictures of young boys and girls.

“It is an absolute pool for people that like this sort of thing for the absolute wrong reason,” John Abell, New York bureau chief for, told ABC News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Internet Addiction Linked to Drug Abuse, Study Finds

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(THESSALONIKI, Greece) -- Parents already panicky about the amount of time their teenage children spend online may now have something new to worry about: all those hours spent Web surfing, chatting, gaming, texting and posting to Facebook could be a warning sign of substance abuse, according to a new study in the March issue of the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

Greek researchers found that teenagers with “pathologic” Internet use were more likely to admit to drug abuse, and as excessive Internet use increased, so did the likelihood of substance abuse.  The study also linked substance abuse and excessive Internet use to such personality traits as nonconformity, aggressiveness, recklessness and impulsiveness.

“Not only did we find that specific personality attributes were important in both substance abuse and Internet addiction, but that Internet addiction remained an important predictor of substance abuse,” study co-author Georgios Floros, at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, said in an email to ABC News.

Floros and colleagues surveyed 1,271 students between the ages of 14 and 19 on the Aegean island of Kos about their Internet use, substance use and personality.  To determine who was “Internet addicted,” the researchers administered a 20-question “Internet addiction test” that asked how often the students stayed online longer than they’d intended, how often their grades or studies slipped because of the amount of time spent online, and how often they’d “yell, snap or act annoyed” if someone bothered them while they were online.

When they compared the mean values of “illicit substance abuse” among the teenage participants, the researchers found that those who reported substance abuse had “significantly” higher mean scores on the Internet addiction test, and that those scores were important predictors for substance use, either past or present.

“The predictive element showed an interesting new finding,” said Floros.

“It’s not a shocking result to me,” David Greenfield, a Connecticut psychologist and founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, told ABC News.  “The study offers another set of variables to look at when doing a workup.”

Dr. Megan Moreno, a pediatric and adolescent medicine specialist at UW Health in Madison, Wis., said, “I’ve definitely seen kids who showed signs of problematic Internet use.  Some of them do go on to have other problem behaviors.  Sometimes that’s substance abuse, sometimes it’s other addictive behaviors, like excess exercise or excess shopping.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio