Keep Your Kids Away From Drugs By Letting Them Wear ‘Marijuana Goggles’

If you are afraid that your children might pick up the habit of drug and alcohol abuse, you might find some hope in this bit of news.

marijuana-goggles-visionLocals of Hancock County recently announced in a news article that they have come up with a concrete solution to discourage teenagers from using illegal drugs: “marijuana goggles“. The pair of spectacles gives a first-person simulation of the view of someone who smokes marijuana, even if the wearer does not smoke it.

A handful of teenagers, who were members of the Hancock County Youth Council, tried the goggles on themselves, and were surprised with the results. In a clear show of the device’s capability, the teenagers were able to finish a simple maze within 12 seconds, but took them four times the amount of time when they wore the goggles. They also tried a driving simulation, which they found difficult to do, considering that marijuana users have a hard time discerning the color red — which is the color of the stop sign in a traffic light.

The device was brought into the county by Neighborhoods Against Substance Abuse (NASA) member Tim Retherford, who let the youth council try the goggles. “Anytime you can do an activity — something that’s interactive with them, or something that provides education, that’s great. These actually simulate the loss of some of your cognitive functions,” Retherford said.

Blair Viehweg, a senior who lives in Mount Vernon, said that the wearing the goggles provokes the thoughts of the teenagers who wear the device. “I think it impacts them a lot because they can see how real it is,” Viehweg added.

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Kids Exposed To Alcohol Ads On TV Even During Daytime

Sports events on television serve as perfect opportunities for alcohol companies to advertise their products, but a recent Australian study revealed that this increases the risk of exposure of children to alcohol.

children tv exposure to alcohol adsAccording to research from Monash University in Australia, free-to-air TV channels (AFL, Cricket, and NRL) aired about 60 percent of all alcohol-related ads in Australian sports channels. Worse, 47 percent of the advertisements were aired during the daytime, when kids can have free access.

Study lead author Dr. Sherilene Carr expressed the research team’s frustration over the inconsistency in regulating alcohol ads on free TV. “What was striking was the extent of children’s exposure because of the clause allowing alcohol advertising in daytime sport. It’s banned in every other TV genre because it’s known to be harmful to children, so why is sport exempt? It just doesn’t make sense,” Carr said in a news report.

The study looked into 2012 data on alcohol advertising in AFL, Cricket, and NFL, and cross-referenced it with information on TV audience viewership. Although daytime viewing exposed kids to a lot of alcohol ads, the timeslot of 8:30 to 9:30 PM proved to be the most intensive in term of alcohol ad exposure.

University associate professor Kerry O’Brien stressed the responsibility of TV networks on safeguarding children and teens from the hazards of alcohol abuse. “The alcohol industry’s job is to increase sales and consumption of alcohol, so they can’t be expected to protect young people’s health, but the AFL, NRL, and Cricket, could care more than they apparently do,” O’Brien expressed.

The study, funded by the Australian Research Council, Australian National Preventative Health Agency, and VicHealth, was published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review.

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Common Antidepressant Drug Unsafe For Teenagers, Says Study

Paroxetine is an antidepressant drug commonly prescribed to teenagers suffering from bouts of depression, but a new study says that this might do more harm than good.

teen depression antidepressant drugResearchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia led by Jon Jureidini said that an earlier study released in 2001 by pharmaceutical company SmithKline Beecham may have released erroneous results. Based on its re-evaluation of documents from the Restoring Invisible and Abandoned Trials (RIAT) initiative, the research team discovered that paroxetine — and also the antidepressant drug imipramine — may not be as effective as earlier reported.

The previous research, labelled as Study 329, was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. It declared that paroxetine was “safe and effective for adolescents,” as reported in a news article. However, the new study confirmed that the drug was no more effective than placebo, and was even reported to have harmful risks such as suicidal tendencies in users of the drug.

The study was a revisit of a decision of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which stated that the tests done on the drug were “failed trials”. Results of the updated study were published in BMJ.

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Teen Depression May Be Caused By Social Media, Study Says

Reputation and social identity have always been included in the priorities of an average teenager, but this has especially heightened with the rise of social media. A new study discovered that the pressure to always update their social media accounts may lead teens to a higher risk of anxiety and depression.

teen depressionThis was revealed by a team of researchers from the University of Glasgow in the UK. The study involved a survey of more than 460 adolescents between the ages of 11 and 17, and asked them about their disposition, bouts of depression, sleeping habits, and behavior on social media. For the latter, the social networking sites included in the study are Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest.

Results of the study showed that teenagers who were more emotionally invested in social media experienced poor sleep quality and a higher tendency to be anxious and depressed. The results were especially evident when teenagers used social media during the evening. “While overall social media use impacts on sleep quality, those who log on at night appear to be particularly affected. This may be mostly true of individuals who are highly emotionally invested. This means we have to think about how our kids use social media, in relation to time for switching off,” said study co-author Dr. Heather Cleland Woods via a news release.

The research team said that a possible reason behind teenage anxiety over social media is the assumed need to always be updated and to not miss out on what’s trending.

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Children Exposed To E-Cigarette Hazards Due To Lack of Parental Awareness

As the world continues to debate on the benefits and dangers of e-cigarette use, a recent study sheds light into the importance of parental intervention in the issue.

teen e-cigarette useAccording to researchers from St. Louis’ Washington University School of Medicine, many children are exposed to the potential risks of electronic cigarettes because parents are unaware of the possible health problems. “These are largely avoidable risks, but because e-cigarettes are relatively new, many people – including pediatricians – aren’t aware of the dangers or the steps that should be taken to protect children from them,” according to study first author Jane Garbutt in a news release.

In their research published in the journal Academic Pediatrics, close to 660 parents and legal guardians were asked to answer a survey to determine their e-cigarette use and know-how. Results showed that majority of them are aware of electronic cigarettes, with about 20 percent having experienced using it, and 1 out of 8 declared that it’s being used by a family member on a regular basis.

Results revealed further that 36 percent of respondents who use e-cigarette do not deliberately keep the products away from children. This lack of security may be in the form of failure in keeping e-liquid refill bottles or childproofing them. In fact, 34 percent of respondents said that they store e-liquid containers in a cupboard, while 22 percent keep their liquids in a bag.

In addition, only 15 percent of the population were able to tell their children’s pediatrician about e-cigarette use in the household. The researchers believe that parents should inform their kids’ doctors from the get-go. “We strongly encourage pediatricians to ask parents about nicotine use, including e-cigarettes, and to discuss the risks of exposure,” Garbutt added.

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Young Girls Who Drink Alcohol Have Higher Risk of Engaging in Unexpected Sexual Encounters

A large number of cases related to sexually transmitted diseases (STD) can be traced to unplanned sexual encounters, which many young females have unknowingly contracted. In light of this, a new study warns women against consuming alcohol, as this may increase the risk of them getting into unexpected sexual situations.

women drinking alcohol exposed to unexpected sexual encountersResearchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine based their study findings on interviews with young females who attended a clinic that specializes in STD cases. “The idea behind our study was to first unveil what women expect to happen, and then uncover what consequences really occur so that we can challenge unrealistic expectations and develop better interventions that lead to safer experiences,” said study co-author Dr. Geetanjali Chander in a news release.

The study, which was released in last month’s edition of Women’s Health Issues, involved in-depth interviews with 20 African-American females between the period of December 2009 and August 2010. The women admitted to either having sexual intercourse while being under the influence of alcohol or engaging in binge drinking sessions at one point in their life. Most of the women reported to have experienced the following sexual encounters:

  • Having intercourse with new partners
  • Trying out new things (i.e. rough sex, anal sex)
  • Having sex without protection
  • Having sex while unconscious or under the influence of alcohol
  • Being raped

When asked what could be done to protect themselves during a public drinking spree, many of the women find security in being with female friends. “Women feel safer when they travel in packs, and one way participants suggested staying safe is to never let anyone get separated from the pack,” said Dr. Heidi Hutton, who works at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as psychiatry and behavioral sciences associate professor.

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