What Teens Are Really Doing Online

If your son or daughter is like most teens, they spend a lot of time locked in their rooms on the computer. What are they doing in there?

Although you’d like to think they’re busily finishing their homework or doing research for an assignment, they’re most likely updating their Facebook page or instant messaging their friends.

Teen Girls on Computer

While these activities may sound innocent enough, it’s important for parents to watch carefully to ensure that their teens are safe online.

The Truth About Social Networking Sites

Social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook are places teens go to share their lives with friends. The popularity of these sites has made it so most teens – and even most parents – now have a Facebook or MySpace account.

But before you feel too confident just because you know your teen has a Facebook or MySpace account, consider whether you really know what your child is doing on these sites.

According to a poll of 1,013 teens by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that tracks children’s media usage, parents consistently underestimate how much time their kids spend on social networking sites and how often they engage in risky behavior, such as posting explicit photos of themselves, bullying other teens or hacking into other people’s accounts.

Read how you can keep your teen safe while they’re online >>

Getting Your Runaway Teen to Come Home

When a teen runs away from home, the entire family is shaken with worry and frustration. Approximately 2 million teens between the ages of 13 and 17 run away from home each year, leaving millions of parents wondering how to get their child to come back home.

Why Do Teens Run Away?

Teens run away from home for a variety of reasons, but usually some sort of family conflict is involved. Common reasons include the following:

  • Heated argument with parents
  • Trouble in school
  • Feelings of not belonging or not being good enough
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Fighting or violence between parents
  • Pregnancy
  • Lured by online predators
  • Sexual orientation
  • Alcohol and drug use (by parents or teens)
  • Gang activity
  • Loss of a parent due to divorce or death
  • Moving to a new area or school
  • Peer pressure

The root of the problem may also be a behavioral disorder, such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) or conduct disorder, or other mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.

Whatever the reason for leaving home, runaways face serious risks to their mental, physical and emotional health. Some of these risks include malnutrition, psychological disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, drug and alcohol abuse, robbery, sexual abuse and physical assault, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Learn what you can do to safely return your teen home >>

Participation in Team Sports Has Lifelong Benefits for Girls

When Title IX was enacted in 1972, the goal was to provide equal opportunities to girls in high school and college athletics. More than 30 years later, the benefits of Title IX have continued beyond the soccer field, tennis court and swimming pool to create a positive impact well into adulthood.

Two separate studies have shown that team sports can result in life-long improvements to a woman’s education, career and health. The first study, by Betsey Stevenson, an economist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, found that Title IX accounted for:

  • About 20 percent of the increase in women’s education
  • About 40 percent of the rise in employment for 25- to 34-year-old women

"It’s not just that the people who are going to do well in life play sports, but that sports help people do better in life," said Stevenson in a Feb. 15, 2010, New York Times article by Tara Parker-Pope. "While I only show this for girls, it’s reasonable to believe it’s true for boys as well."

The second study, by Robert Kaestner, an economics professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, looked at the effect of Title IX on women’s health. The study, published in the journal Evaluation Review, determined that Title IX accounted for a 7 percent lower risk of obesity 20 to 25 years later in those women who participated in sports after Title IX was enacted. The study also found that those women had a lower body mass index (BMI) and reported being more physically active.

How do you get your daughter to stick with sports? Continue reading to find out >>