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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The Social Resume and the Do’s and Don’ts of Posting Online

This week, I was a guest author on the Stop Medicine Abuse Five Moms Blog. Below is an excerpt from the blog with a link to the full piece on the Five Moms Blog. 

The Social Resume and Do’s and Don’ts of Posting Online

AUGUST 13, 2015 —

Although I find it hard to believe, my eldest is half way through high school. This summer, along with kicking back, she also plans to take her driver’s test, volunteer at a day camp and begin researching colleges. While she prepares in the real world for her next steps, we are also looking at her online world.

We have had the digital talk at my house. I have spoken with my kids about how what they post online can be shared widely and become part of their permanent digital footprint. With 40% of admissions officers and 52% of employers searching applicants online, they need to be careful about what they share in the digital world. What they post today can impact tomorrow.

Right now, we have a different problem. If you search my teen’s name, nothing appears. She is active online. If you are her friend, you can follow her on her private Instagram account or you may receive an 8-second Snapchat picture. However, if you are a company, college or teacher looking to find out more about her, there is nothing.


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Ask KidsPrivacy: How to keep Kik videos private

talking digital logoOne of the challenges for parents and teens is keeping up with all the new features added to apps. A year ago, a parent may have agreed to a simple photo sharing social network. Flash forward a year later and that same app now allows users to share videos and send direct messages. Kik messenger has added many new features over the years including video. Here is the answer to a question I received about recently about privacy and Kik videos.

Q: If someone invites me on Kik what should I do? How can I make a video private on Kik?

A:  A new feature on Kik is the ability for users record videos of up to 15 seconds and share them during a chat. Users can also share videos previously saved on their smartphone. Friends can save shared videos by tapping on the video and choosing save or opening it up on full-screen and choosing the download arrow.

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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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Celebrate Internet Safety Month with a Good Book

pibooksIt is June and June is my January. This is when I look back over the past year and make plans for the next. I always kick off summer with a list of new projects. On my list this year, along with organizing photos, is revisiting our family phone contract. With my youngest starting middle school, we will be looking at a new phone and a new contract.

It is fitting that June is Internet Safety Month. NCSA and ConnectSafely are working together to offer tips and strategies for helping families managing technology use. “June is a great time to appreciate the warm weather and to consider how the season impacts our online lives. The Internet greatly enhances our summer experiences as we use technology to plan, enrich and share our activities,” said Michael Kaiser, NCSA’s executive director. “With some smart practices, you can help protect yourself, your family and the extended online community while using the Internet with greater confidence.”

Thankfully, they are a lot of great websites and books to help parents boost their digital parenting confidence. A few weeks ago, I published a list of some of my favorite websites. This week, I have put together a list of digital parenting books. This list is from my Pinterest board. Most of these I have read and a few are on my to read list. These books are full of tips and strategies for all ages. Celebrate Internet Safety Month by adding one of these to your summer reading list. (If you know of a great book I missed, send me the link and I will add it.)

Happy Internet Safety Month!