Teen Advice Mashup: Do Not Try This At Home
It's an odd time to be raising a teen -- not because teens have been getting any more bizarre, but because of some of the studies that have been hitting the news wires lately. Just for fun, I pulled together five of the more colorful teen studies to cross my desk in recent months. Then I mashed the results.
First, the research itself
Teens who skip breakfast are likely to lose their virginity at an earlier age. Japanese researchers found that Japanese teens who eat breakfast tend to lose their virginity at age 19 on average, as compared to age 17.5 for kids who skip breakfast. The Japanese Family Planning Association, which headed up the study, concluded that kids coming from “a stable home” would be more likely to eat breakfast; and that "Those [teens who are] unhappy with their parents - such as for not preparing breakfast - may tend to find a way to release their frustration by having sex.”
Internet-obsessed teens more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior. Taiwanese teenagers who describe themselves as being Internet-obsessed are more likely than other teenagers to have hit, shoved, or threatened someone in the past year, according to a study published online by the Journal of Adolescent Health. This doesn’t prove that Internet addiction leads to violence, however, the researchers stress. It’s possible that violence-prone teenagers are more likely to become Internet-addicted than other teens.
Teens who watch a lot of sexually-explicit TV are more likely to become pregnant or to be responsible for a pregnancy during their teen years. Researchers from RAND Health focused on 23 popular programs that were widely available on broadcast and cable television and contained high levels of sexual content (both depictions of sex as well as dialogue or discussion about sex). The shows included drama, comedy, reality, and animated programs. (An earlier study found that talk about the sex has the same effect on teens as depictions of sex; and that TV shows with sexual content appear to hasten the initiation of teen sexual activity.) The researchers reported on their findings in the November 2008 edition of the medical journal Pediatrics.
Teens who work are more likely to smoke. For years, parents have been encouraging kids to get summer or part-time jobs so that they can gain valuable work experience and start building a nest egg for college. But, according to this study, working during the teen years may encourage teens to acquire a smoking habit as well. “Teens may use cigarettes as a way to take a break from job duties, particularly if they are exposed to older workers who are accustomed to cigarette breaks. Teens’ earnings enable them to buy cigarettes more readily. And teens’ earnings enable them to buy cigarettes more readily,” the researchers note.
Troubled teenagers tend to become troubled adults. File this one under doom and gloom or abandon all hope. According to University of Alberta researcher Ian Colman, teenagers who act up in class, cut class, lie, daydream or act restless are more likely to experience marriage breakdown, financial problems, and/or depression as adults. Colman’s study -- which focused on British teenagers -- was published in the British Medical Journal.
Now, the mashup
So what do you get if you mash these five studies together? A very bizarre game-plan for parenting, to say the least. Here's what I came up with. [PLEASE, PEOPLE. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!]
2. Explain that the pregnancy magnet (the TV) and the aggression magnet (the Internet) have been banished from the family home.
3. Point out the new warning in the classified section of the newspaper: "Working part-time has been linked to an increased risk of smoking in young people." Urge your teen to hang up his fast-food uniform forever.
4. Let your teen know that he needs to give up daydreaming and other vices for the sake of his future well-being. From now on, it's all about focus and positive attitude.
So what do you do when you come across a study that strikes you as a bit out there? What if they keep coming at you in waves? Is your parenting intuition and your confidence as a parent strong enough to help you ride those waves?