How to Talk with your Teen about Medicine Abuse

On KidsPrivacy, I have the luxury of focusing exclusively on digital parenting. At home, it is a different story. I have spent many late nights researching tools to help teens deal with stress, how to parallel park, taking the SAT vs ACT, the list goes on and on. Thankfully, I can always find fantastic resources to help me deal with any question that arises. Recently, I found out about Teens abusing over-the-counter and prescription medications is a growing problem. Sue Scheff wrote an excellent article on medicine abuse and digital parenting. Below I have a post from Peggy McKibbin, from The Five Moms Blog, on how to discuss medicine abuse with your teen.

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How to Talk with your Teen about Medicine Abuse

by Peggy McKibbin

Various pressures at school, in the media and from friends may impact teens to experiment with drugs at some point in their adolescence. Many parents’ minds may turn to marijuana, cocaine or other illegal substances; however, the truth is that teens can abuse legal drugs, too, often turning to their home medicine cabinet to get high. Teens abuse over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine because it is easy to obtain and can often be found in the home. Additionally, many see its abuse as less risky than other substances. Unfortunately, that is not the case: side effects of taking excessive amounts of cough medicine can result in impaired vision, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting and disorientation.

While broaching sensitive issues like drug use can be intimidating for both parents and teens, it is an important conversation to have. In fact, teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are 50 percent less likely to use drugs.

Not sure how to address this topic with your teen? You’re not alone! Here are some tips to help:

  1. Educate yourself – Before speaking with your teen about the dangers of medicine abuse, learn about the risks for yourself. Once you are familiar and comfortable with the facts, you’ll be able to discuss your concerns with more ease.
  2. Setting up the conversation – There is no “perfect” time to speak to your teen about medicine abuse, but there are certain things you can do to make the conversation more comfortable and effective. When talking to your teen, do so in a familiar environment like at the kitchen table, in the car when driving to activities, in the family room or on the patio. This allows your teen to focus on the what you’re saying, as a familiar environment will be less distracting. Also, remember to set a good tone for the discussion. It’s important to be calm and serious, not accusatory and frustrated. And keep in mind that if your teen does start talking, don’t interrupt; let he or she speak.
  3. Asking questions – This can be tricky. When speaking about such a sensitive issue, asking the right questions is key. Be sure to ask questions that require more than a simple “yes” or “no” response. Open-ended questions allow teens to elaborate and expand their answers. Take a look at this conversation starter guide for ideas on how to get the discussion rolling.
  4. Following up – Once you have had the initial discussion about OTC cough medicine abuse, future conversations should be easier and easier to have. Continue to check in with your teen and talk to them about what is going on in his or her life. As your child grows older, ask about the pressures he or she has faced (or seen) with friends and peers. Pressure to engage in dangerous behaviors probably won’t go away as your teen grows up, so continue the conversation.

Feel free to check out our tools for parents if you want to learn more about OTC cough medicine abuse and how to address this issue with your child.

Peggy is a mother of two and a high school nurse with a passion for promoting good health among teens. As one of The Five Moms for the Stop Medicine Abuse campaign and through her involvement with the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), Peggy works to educate her students and her community on the dangers of medicine abuse. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.


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How Familoop supports Digital Parenting

(To evaluate this product I was given a Live Demo and will receive a free subscription when released. Familoop Safeguard was not involved in the writing of this piece and all opinions are my own. In the future, I will be working with Familoop as their Digital Parenting Expert. To learn more about Familoop and digital parenting, visit )

familoop logoPlacing parent controls on a kid’s device may appear like the perfect solution. However, controls by themselves can shift the focus from guiding to simply restricting. This shift can place parents in a policing role rather than a teaching role. . Let’s face it, in order to guide and teach, parents need to know what their kids are doing and encountering online. When using this software in conjunction with a device contract and coaching, it can be an important piece in digital parenting

This summer, I have been researching parental control software packages. Recently, I connected with a new safeguard called Familoop. Familoop Safeguard promotes their software as being part of holistic approach designed to keep parents informed as well as providing tools and support so parents can guide their child’s internet use. Hearing this, I was eager to check it out.

Familoop Safeguard makes it easy for parents to check in on their family’s digital activity. Instead of setting up individual controls for each phone, tablet and PC, Familoop Safeguard allows parents to manage all of these devices under one umbrella. On Familoop’s Insight page, parents can see how long their kids are online, what they are doing, and where they may be running into trouble. By bringing all this information together, parents have a complete picture of their child’s digital life.

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GooglePlay makes it easier to evaluate apps

ESRB_app_1a TornadoThese hot and hazy days seem to bring out the devices. In the afternoon, my worn out child plops himself in front of the fan, grabs his tablet and starts trolling for new games. Before downloading a new app, he has to ask me to enter a pincode. Most of the time, I have heard of the app and I can make a quick decision but sometimes he comes up with some stumpers. Before downloading the mystery app, we look up the rating and reviews.

I have to admit I have always found GooglePlay ratings confusing. What is “medium maturity”? The term itself is vague and after reading the description, it still is not easy to determine exactly what age group this geared toward. With GooglePlay, Apple and video games all having different ratings systems, it is not easy to figure out if “Medium Maturity” is like 17+ or “T”?

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Free Book for Internet Safety Month

June is Internet Safety Month. To celebrate, I am offering my ebook, Talking Digital: A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Kids How to Share Smart and Stay Safe Online, free until June 23.

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I will be releasing an updated version in Fall 2015. If there is a topic or question you would like included in the next book, please let me know. Happy Reading!




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What Parents need to know about YouNow

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YouNow is part of the new live streaming trend. The best way to describe YouNow is Live TV with audience participation. Instead of passively watching a video, teens can watch their favorite performer or classmate broadcast live and message them questions or comments. The person responds to them immediately during the live broadcast. YouNow has over 100 million sessions a month. Scrolling through these live broadcasts, I saw many young faces.

Teens appear to dominate YouNow. While teens make up the majority of performers, anyone can watch the live broadcasts without registering. Simply, go to YouNow and click around to watch trending people and topics. It is only if someone wants to take part in the chat or broadcast themselves live do they need to sign up. Teens must sign up through their existing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google+ account. Once they sign up, they create their public profile and start broadcasting.

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