Learning Foolishness via YouTube

An article by Dr. Claire McCarthy points out that YouTube “multiplies the peer effect” when it comes to learning new, and sometimes risky, behaviors from other teens.   When we parents think of peer pressure we often think of the specific social group a teen belongs to, or the culture in our child’s school.  That’s a mistake, according to Dr. McCarthy, who says that with the internet, peers “becomes the whole wide world.”  And that makes parenting even harder for moms and dads today.  Some of the things that teens can research on YouTube are downright dangerous, like the (not new) “choking” game, which she discusses in the article.  Her advice is the same I’ve often given…talk to them.

Prom Insanity

USA Today, in an article out last month, reports that teens (or is it parents) are now spending between $1000 and $2000 on going to the prom.  Am I alone in thinking this is insane?  OK, so I’m someone who has never had a professional manicure or pedicure, has never set foot in a spa, and got my wedding dress off the clearance rack.  I am probably more shocked by prom-gone-wild than the average parent.  But I wonder, are these expectations reasonable in this economic environment?  And are we setting up our teens to expect all the luxuries they want throughout life without consideration for the costs?  Worse, if a young man (or young woman I suppose) is spending so much for one night, is he going to expect to “cash in” with a romp at the hotel?  Just today I heard the story of a woman who recounted the first time she had sex.  Junior Prom.  It was the price she had to pay to get her older boyfriend, who didn’t want to hang out with high schoolers, to go.  She called it “prostituting” herself, but used rougher words  So sad.

Parents, it’s time to have a sober talk about expectations for prom.  It can be fun, focus on friendships, and leave no regrets.  Or…it can be quite different. Let’s ratchet down the expectations.  This is not their wedding night, and it’s not the pinnacle of life from which everything from here on out goes downhill.

Piercings More Dangerous Than We Thought

When it comes to piercings, many parents decide it’s not a battle worth fighting.  Until the piercings multiply.  Most of us have some unease with the “statement” a teen seems to be making with multiple piercings in increasingly “creative” places on the body.  The question of what to allow seems to boil down to two questions:  Do piercings make a “statement” we don’t want our kids to make?  And are piercings safe?  The Journal of Family practice reported on a study showing that multiple piercings DO seem to be correlated with some negative behaviors such as lower academic performance, greater drug use, and risky sexual behavior.   Recently, the Chicago Tribune reported on a study by Northwestern University that shows that a disturbingly high 20 percent of piercings result in bacterial infections.  Some piercings can cause other problems such as broken teeth, gum damage, interference with X-rays and MRIs, and even death from infections that reach the heart or other vital organs.  The article goes on to point out that nearly a fourth of millenials (those born in the 80s and 90s) are pierced somewhere other than their earlobes.

What does it take to resist peer pressure?

What kind of boy or girl resists peer pressure?  And how can I get one of THOSE kids?

All joking aside, there is some indication that a child who is comfortable “negotiating” with his or her mother, one who  stands up for his or her views in the family, might be good at asserting him or herself in a peer pressure situation. The study found that “teens that were best able to resist peer pressure were those who openly expressed their views with their mom. These teens also used reasonable arguments instead of whining or using insults to influence their mother’s opinion on common issues, such as grades, household rules, money and chores.”  So, the next time you’re weary of the child who seems to be wearing you down with arguments, remember that your little debater may also be taking those reasoning skills into social situations where resisting risky behavior is critical to his or her well-being.