Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
A growing trend in pediatric care may be in the technology devices teenagers carry with them everywhere they go: doctors are using text messaging and other communication strategies to communicate better with their patients. From The New York Times:
But using social media also raises questions about doctor-patient boundaries, privacy laws and confidentiality. Should doctors “friend” young patients on Facebook? What rules should doctors establish about texting with teenagers: content, hours and expectations of speedy replies? How should doctors take into account the reality that teenagers’ cellphones are often missing in action, only to be found — and pored over — by friends and parents?
For these reasons, many doctors stop short of texting. Because texting is not encrypted and does not comply with privacy laws, “my clinic rules forbid me,” said Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician who treats teenagers at the Everett Clinic, which is outside Seattle, and at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
But teenagers follow her on Twitter and her Seattle Mama Doc blog, on which she writes commentary and posts health news and videos.
During visits, she will ask a teenager the safest way to pass along private information. For those on birth control, she’ll say, “Take out your cellphone and put in a daily alarm about when to take your pill. Call it…‘strawberry.’ ”
Dr. Swanson won’t answer individual questions on her blog. “But if they ask a question in my office that I think a lot of teens would like to know about,” she added, “I can put the content on the blog without identifying the patient.”
In New York, Mount Sinai Hospital’s Adolescent Health Center uses a program called Text in the City to send patients tips and reminders about medications and appointments. Patients can also text questions, understanding that answers may not arrive for 24 hours. Dr. Katie Malbon, who writes most of the responses, said she cautions: delete an answer after reading it….
….But many doctors cannot imagine adding social media responsibilities to an already exhausting practice. Dr. [Natasha] Burgert, 36, is a juggernaut: With two children, she has a busy practice, keeps a blog on her group’s Web site, posts Twitter messages, texts her teenage patients and still sticks to an 8-to-5 workday.
She carries a paper notebook to jot reminders, and spends 15 minutes a day sending texts and e-mails. It saves her hours of phone tag with patients.
The teenagers don’t overload her with exchanges, she said. “They understand it is a privilege, that not all physicians will do this. Actually, I have more problems with first-time parents.”
Image: Doctor texting, via Shutterstock
Monday, September 24th, 2012
A rising number of American teenagers are suffering from injuries while walking down the street, and researchers believe that the prevalence of text messaging is to blame, and that September and October are the problem’s deadliest months because teens are walking to, from, and around schools. More from MSNBC.com:
A new report shows that in recent years, pedestrian injuries among 16 to 19 year-olds increased 25 percent. Teens aged 14 to 19 made up half of all child pedestrian injuries, according to the report from SafeKids, a global non-profit organization focused on preventing injuries among children.
The study, Walking Safely: A Report to the Nation, took snapshot views of pedestrian death and injury among five year intervals from 1995 through 2010 and looked at age groups 0 to 4, 5 to 9, 10 to 14 and 15 to 19. Using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau, SafeKids found that the death rate among older teens is now twice that of younger kids, with 1.11 deaths per 100,000 members of the population as opposed to .47, .33, and .45 in the other cohorts respectively.
While the report, sponsored by FedEx, doesn’t break down how many of those were using mobile devices at the time of injury, Kate Carr, president and CEO of SafeKids Worldwide, says she believes that’s what is driving the rise in injuries.
“In addition to the increase in pedestrian injuries we saw among older teenagers, we also examined numerous outside reports about how much mobile use has increased among teens, “ she says. “We know that the average number of texts per teen has risen dramatically. Couple that with drivers who are talking on the phone or texting, and you have distracted people on both sides of the equation. Our hypothesis is that the rise in injuries among these older teens is caused by their dramatic increase in their cell phone use.”
Image: Teen texting, via Shutterstock
Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
Teenagers who engage in “sexting,” or sending sexually explicit text messages, are 7 times more likely than their peers to be sexually active in the non-virtual world, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found. Further, the study found that because sexting is a risky behavior, the practice also puts teens at higher risk for having risky sex, putting them in danger of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. From CNN:
“The same teens who are engaging in digital sex risk taking through sexting are also the same teens that are engaging in sex risk with their bodies in terms of being sexually active and not using condoms,” said lead study author Eric Rice, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work in Los Angeles.
A 2009 report from the Pew Research Center found that some teens “view sexting as a safer alternative to real life sexual activity.”
While the term ”sexting” may also include messages also sent over the Internet, this particular study looked solely at cell phone text messages and images. It was conducted via questionnaire in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Researchers surveyed 1,839 students ages 12 to 18 at random. Most were Latino or African-American. Three-quarters of those surveyed had cell phones.
“Even though a minority of teens sext – we only found 15% – but that 15% are much riskier with their physical sexual behaviors as well as their digital sexual behaviors,” says Rice.
He add that teens who reported sexting were seven times more likely to be sexually active than their peers who did not sext.
Image: Teen sending text message, via Shutterstock
Tuesday, June 26th, 2012
Though nine out of ten teenagers use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites and report it has more of a positive than negative role in their lives, Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives, a new report from Common Sense Media’s Program for the Study of Children and Media, has found that many teens still prefer talking to interacting digitally – and many describe their relationships with social media as an “addiction.”
According to the report, teens’ favorite way to communicate with their friends is by talking in person (49%), with texting next (33%) and social media a distant third (7%). Teens who prefer talking face-to-face say it’s because it’s more fun (38%), and they can better understand what people mean (29%). The telephone, a mainstay of teenage life just a generation ago, is virtually dead: Only 4% of teens prefer to talk on the phone.
“Today’s 13- to 17-year-olds are the first generation to go through their entire teen years with such an array of digital devices and platforms,” said James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media in a statement. “This report reads as a primer for parents to teens and tweens — to help them understand how their kids are engaging with technology and to highlight any impact it might be having on their social and emotional well-being.”
Image: Teen girl texting, via Shutterstock
Thursday, June 7th, 2012
A Massachusetts teenager has been convicted of vehicular homicide for a 2011 car accident that resulted in the death of one man and serious injury to a passenger, CNN.com is reporting. Eighteen-year-old Aaron Deveau was texting while driving. From CNN:
“I made a mistake,” Deveau said Wednesday after his mother told the court he would not intentionally hurt anyone. “If I could take it back, I would take it back.”
Judge Stephen Abany sentenced the teen to two and a half years on the vehicular homicide charge and two years on the texting and causing injury charge. He will serve one year concurrently on both charges and the balance of both charges is suspended for five years. His license will be suspended for 15 years.
“There are no winners today,” Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said in a statement. “A beloved grandfather is dead. A once active woman can no longer work and is still racked with pain from her injuries and a young man is going to jail. When we get behind the wheel of a car, we are obligated to drive with care. … As we saw in this case, in a split second, many lives are forever changed.”
Image: Texting while driving, via Shutterstock.