"With the growing influence of screen time and everyone more plugged in than ever, I fear there is less, not more family-together time."
—psychologist Marta Flaum, commenting on a new Penn State University study indicating that the more time teens spend with their parents in general and their dads in particular, the more confident they feel [usnews.com, 8/21/12 c&e]
Single-copy sales of magazines at newsstands declined 10% in the first half of 2012 according to the magazine industry's Audit Bureau of Circulations. Experts speculate that the decline is due to stiff competition from digital media combined with increased consumer caution in the face of ongoing economic headwinds. Cosmopolitan was the top-selling title at newsstands. But even its sales of 1.4 million copies in the first six months of the year represented a 16% drop compared to the same time frame in 2011. Other heavy-hitter titles suffered even steeper sales declines, including People (down 19%) and Time (down 31%). [usatoday.com, 8/7/12; nytimes.com, 8/13/12 stats]
More than a third of teens ages 13-17 can't last 10 minutes without checking their phones, according to a new survey by textPlus. About half of them say they couldn't live without their phones for a week, and 61% said they'd die if they lost the ability to text. According to the survey, nearly three-fourths of teens say that checking their phones is the first thing they do in the morning and last thing they do at night. [mashable.com, 8/21/12 stats]
"Maybe it's because stories like these are becoming more and more common that this one—as tragic as it is—has sort of fallen through the cracks. It happened here in Lancaster County where I live. Eleven-year-old Jasmyn Smith would have been starting sixth grade this week. … Instead, Jasmyn's parents will be burying her this Saturday. This was not a teenager. This was a very, very young girl. What happened? Reports say that Jasmyn had been bullied in school and online for about a year. She attempted to take her own life by putting a belt around her neck. I'm not sure of all the details, but she didn't die right away. She did eventually pass away at the Hershey Medical Center. … As I've tried to follow Jasmyn's story I've noticed that it hasn't gotten the kind of attention a story like [this] would have most likely gotten 10, 20, or 30 years ago. Again, that's a sign of our bully- and violence-filled times. That which is common is no longer surprising … or as the news media goes, sensational enough. Jasmyn's age reminds us that 'age-compression' has ushered a whole catalog of pressures, problems, challenges, choices, and expectations into our elementary schools. The younger the age, the more vulnerable a child is. The younger the age, the less-resilient a child is."
—Christian youth culture expert Walt Mueller [learningmylines.blogspot.com, 8/30/12]
An unnamed boy in Edinburgh, Scotland, was recently reprimanded by a judge but not sentenced to prison for forcing a 9-year-old girl to perform a sex act when he was 12. The boy's lawyer, Sean Templeton, said, "This was an emulation of an adult act witnessed by him at this young age. He was afforded unfettered access to the Internet and it has become apparent from a very young age, the age of 12, he was accessing hard-core pornography." He added, "This is the tip of the iceberg. Many, many cases throughout the country may not be identified, not reported, not coming to anyone's attention. … There is a real risk that young people of the current generation of teenagers are growing up with a skewed view of what sex is and sexual activity." [telegraph.co.uk, 5/31/12; almenconi.blogspot.com, 8/13/12 c&e]
"Teenage girls generally tend to be less fascinated with pornography than with heart-throbbing romance—think Twilight—yet clearly they have equal access to sexually explicit imagery. … And while this young generation is almost surely viewing porn more often than did previous ones, exposure to it influences girls in ways that are different than boys. I believe the distorted, enhanced imagery burdens teenage girls with unrealistic expectations about beauty and body image and with damaging ideas about what is attractive and sexually appealing to others. From the perfect waif-like models in teen magazines to the perfectly voluptuous ones on Internet porn, the common theme is that these body shapes are unrealistic and unattainable. … A recent survey in Glamour showed that 97% of the young girls surveyed are critical of their bodies and have an average of 13 negative body thoughts each day. By the time they reach college age, over half of young women are already suffering from disordered eating. I wonder what statistics would reveal about how teenage girls feel about sexual attractiveness? What percentage do you imagine view their bodies as appealing to others—a different question than the one about how they see themselves. With the number of teens lining up for cosmetic surgery before entering high school and college, the answer seems clear—too many."
—psychologist Vivian Diller, author of Face It: What Women Really Feel as Their Looks Change [huffingtonpost.com, 8/20/12 stats]
Apparel company Urban Outfitters is under fire for releasing a line of T-shirts that appear to promote drinking. The shirts in question brandish slogans such as "I Vote for Vodka" and "I Drink You're Cute"—messages particularly problematic, some critics say, because Urban Outfitters' clothes are quite popular among teens. [yahoo.com, 8/27/12]
Teens who regularly smoke marijuana may damage their brains' development and permanently lower their IQ, according to a new study from Duke University and King's College London. The study followed 1,037 children from New Zealand over a period of 25 years. Researchers tested the participants' IQ at age 13 and again at age 38, and those involved were asked about marijuana usage at ages 18, 21, 26, 32 and 38. Researchers say that "persistent users" (defined as those who used the drug at least four times a week at three of the age checkpoints) who started smoking marijuana in their teens suffered an average IQ drop of 8 points between the ages of 13 and 38, a result that included controls for alcohol and other drug use. In contrast, those who began using cannabis regularly as adults suffered no drop in IQ.
"The findings are consistent with speculation that cannabis use in adolescence, when the brain is undergoing critical development, may have neurotoxic effects," said lead author Madeline Meier of Duke University. "The people who used pot persistently as teens scored significantly worse on most of the tests. Friends and relatives routinely interviewed as part of the study were more likely to report that the persistent cannabis users had attention and memory problems such as losing focus and forgetting to do tasks." [nbcnews.com, 8/28/12; independent.co.uk, 8/28/12; telegraph.co.uk, 8/27/12 stats, c&e]
"I say to the grown-ups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world that's completely inconsistent with the world we observe, that's fine. But don't make your kids do it. Because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need engineers that can build stuff and solve problems."
—Bill Nye, best known as "Bill Nye the Science Guy" (for his TV show that aired on PBS and other stations), in a YouTube video titled "Creationism Is Not Appropriate for Children" [cnn.com, 8/27/12]
The cast of Jersey Shore survived six years of drinking, partying, hooking up and fighting. But the show apparently couldn't withstand the arrival of a potential new cast member. Just days after Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi gave birth to her first child, Lorenzo, MTV announced that this season will be Jersey Shore's last. [foxnews.com, 8/30/12]