MONEY

More Young People Have Simply Stopped Looking for Jobs

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Summer jobs are on the decline.

Unemployment among young Americans fell to its lowest level since 2007 last month—but the explanation may not be one you’d expect.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, the unemployment rate among people in the 16-to-24 age category fell to 12.2% this July from 14.3% a year ago; the Wall Street Journal reports that it’s now in line with the historic national average for unemployment. But the rate of Americans in this age group actually participating in the work force is just 60%, or 9% less than the historic national average for labor force participation.

In short: Fewer young people are marked as “unemployed” this summer because fewer young people are looking for jobs.

This marks a departure from the former summer status quo. Up until about 2003, the rate of labor-force participation among young Americans exceeded that of the general adult population. Summer work—as a waiter, an ice cream scooper, a lifeguard, a summer camp counselor–was a rite of passage. Now, summer employment among the young not only lags behind employment for adults generally, it’s also on the decline.

The WSJ offers up a few possible explanations for this phenomenon: young people may be dissuaded from pursuing jobs by having to compete with older, more skilled workers who were laid off during the recession. They could also be volunteering, “volunteering” as unpaid interns, traveling, studying, or just reading a book poolside. Slate offers up another reason for the demise of the teen summer job: the automation of entry-level jobs.

Whatever the reason, one thing seems certain: summer’s getting less lucrative.

Read next: Here’s Why the Summer Job is Disappearing

TIME Addiction

Teen E-Cigs Smokers More Likely to Turn to Cigarettes: Study

New research suggests e-cigarette use among young people could be a gateway to conventional smoking

Teenagers who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to report using conventional tobacco products like cigarettes, hookah and cigars, new research suggests.

Researchers looked at 2,530 students from 10 Los Angeles public schools. They asked the teenagers about their smoking and vaping activities and found that teens who had used e-cigarettes were more likely to report using tobacco products over the next year compared to teens who had never used e-cigarettes. The findings were published Tuesday in the journal JAMA.

The researchers cannot conclude from their data that using e-cigarettes leads a teen to use other tobacco products. More research is needed to determine if the link is causal. However, they suggest it’s unlikely that the number of teens who use both e-cigarettes and other tobacco products can be entirely attributed to teens already smoking and then trying e-cigarettes later on. “These results raise the possibility that the association between e-cigarette and combustible tobacco use initiation may be bidirectional in early adolescence,” the authors write.

MORE: E-cigs Are the New Cool Thing for Teenagers

Some view e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative to tobacco. However, both e-cigarettes and tobacco products contain nicotine, which is addictive, and some research shows that e-cig flavors are dangerous and that the devices, too, produce potentially dangerous byproducts when heated. Since data suggests that teenagers are increasingly using e-cigarettes, some public health experts are worried.

“Adolescents may be especially susceptible to develop nicotine addiction after e-cigarette exposure because their brains are still developing and are particularly sensitive to nicotine,” writes Dr. Nancy A. Rigotti of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in a corresponding editorial.

The researchers also note teens may be more likely to use e-cigarettes before other combustible tobacco products due to a perception that they are not harmful or addictive. The fact that e-cigarettes are sold in different flavors can be attractive to young people, the authors argue, and in some cases it remains easy for teens to get access to them due to a lack of regulation.

 

TIME Research

Schools Start Too Early, Federal Officials Say

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Officials say kids need more sleep for better health, safety and academic performance

The majority of U.S. middle and high schools start their school days too early, not letting young people get enough sleep for development and academic success, a new federal report says.

A new report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday shows that fewer than one in five middle and high schools in the U.S. start at the recommended 8:30 a.m. start time or later. That start time was recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, based on research showing that in the morning, young people need more time to sleep in for their health. The new data come from a review of surveys of about 40,000 middle, high, and combined public schools in the U.S. during the 2011–12 school year.

MORE: When Sleep and School Don’t Mix

The new report shows that in 42 states, 75% to 100% of public schools started before 8:30 a.m. The average school start time is 8:03 a.m. Louisiana had the earliest start time at 7:40 a.m., and Alaska had the latest start time at 8:33 a.m.

Starting school times later allows students to get the optimal amount of sleep, which is around 8.5 to 9.5 hours. Data suggest that two out of three high school students sleep less than 8 hours a night. Lack of sleep can lead to a cascade of health issues like higher body weight, lower academic performance and a greater likelihood for substance abuse, medical experts say.

MORE: School Should Start Later So Teens Can Sleep, Urge Doctors

As TIME has previously reported, both medical experts and the current U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan support changing school start times.“It’s completely a local decision, but I’d like to see more school districts at least consider delaying start times,” Duncan recently told TIME. “A later start to the school day could help boost students’ academic performance and reduce tardiness and absenteeism. Our common sense tells us that sleepy students don’t do well in school, but the research also exists to back it up. Studies show that when students are rested, they are more alert and ready to learn.”

CDC

Delaying school start times can be a difficult task for many schools, and the move often receives significant pushback from people worried about how it will affect after-school activities. However, some schools that have made the switch have seen positive results. For instance, a 2014 University of Minnesota study showed that in high schools that started at 8:30 a.m. or later, 60% of their students got at least eight hours of sleep every night. Teenagers who slept less than that reported more emotional and behavioral issues.

Though it’s not simple to change a school start time, researchers say it can be worth it. “Educating parents and school system decision-makers about the impact of sleep deprivation on adolescent health and academic performance might lead to adoption of later start times,” the study authors conclude.

TIME safety

FOMO Is Making Teens Terrible Drivers

The pressure to be "always on" is leading young people to take their eyes off the road

A frightening amount of drivers will fess up to texting while driving. One recent survey found that 70% of people will admit to using their smartphones at the wheel. Now a new study goes beyond bad behaviors to investigate the motivations behind them. When it comes to teen drivers at least, it appears the culprit is an ascendant cultural plague: FOMO.

FOMO, an acronym for fear of missing out, is not just another cloying bit of slang, report Liberty Mutual Insurance and the non-profit SADD, an acronym for Students Against Destructive Decisions. In their study of 1,622 high school juniors and seniors around the country, teen drivers said they feel pressure to respond immediately to texts even while driving and that they can’t help but peek at their phones when notifications pop up in their apps. The expectations of their “always on” lifestyles, the researchers say, have “potentially deadly consequences.”

“Today’s hyper-connected teens … may be more plugged into their devices than the actual driving task,” says William Horrey, principal research scientist at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, in a statement. Teens may struggle to attend to everything they should on the road even without a smartphone, he says, because they are less experienced drivers. Once a device is thrown into the mix, messages and updates and videos and tweets become additional competitors for their attention, along with the radio, the climate controls or the hundred things happening outside the car.

In the study released Tuesday, more than half of teens said they text while driving in order to keep their parents updated and about one-fifth of them said they believe their parents expect a response within a single minute, even when they are at the wheel. (For their part, nearly 60% of 1,000 parents also surveyed for the study said they do not have a set expectation for response times.) About half of teens said they text more when they’re in the car alone than when others are in the car with them. The most popular apps they said they used while driving break down as follows:

  • Snapchat: 38%
  • Instagram: 20%
  • Twitter: 17%
  • Facebook: 12%
  • YouTube: 12%

The list highlights that, like older drivers, teenagers aren’t just texting while driving. They’re watching videos and taking selfies.

The feeling that they must like an Instagram photo or reply to a Facebook comment the moment it’s posted not only makes teenagers distracted, the researchers say, but may contribute to their general fatigue. In their survey, 58% of teens said they had either fallen asleep or nearly fallen asleep at the wheel, and about half of them said they get only three to six hours of sleep per night during the week, often because they’re up staring into their smartphone screens. The effects of driving while sleepy, the researchers point out, are similar to those of driving under the influence; 24 hours without sleep can be the equivalent of three cocktails.

SADD was founded to stop young people from drinking and driving but has expanded its mission to combat an array of things that undermine young people’s health and safety. Their experts suggest parents act on data like this by talking to their kids, making it clear that it’s fine not to respond while they’re en route somewhere and making sure they get a decent amount of shuteye each night. “Today’s parents are juggling their own busy schedules, and too often young drivers’ risky habits go unrecognized,” says SADD’s Stephen Gray Wallace in a statement.

It appears they should also continue to pound away at the message being trumpeted by everyone from trauma centers to wireless carriers: It’s dangerous to use your phone while driving, and despite how you might feel at the time, whatever it is can wait. Nearly 90% of the teens who said they use apps on the road also said they consider themselves “safe” drivers, the study found, as did 60% of those who make calls. While many said they’re texting with purpose—to coordinate an event or update a friend—nearly 20% say they text while driving “just for fun.”

“It’s critical that parents focus on pinpointing these dangerous driving habits early on,” says Wallace, “and have frequent conversations with their children about what safe driving really means.”

TIME Health Care

Many Teens Are Still Not Getting The HPV Vaccine

Even though the HPV vaccine prevents cancer, the number of teens who get vaccinated is still lower than desired

New federal data shows that despite public health efforts, the number of teen boys and girls receiving the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine only increased slightly in 2014.

The new numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released on Thursday show that four out of 10 adolescent girls and six out of 10 adolescent boys have not started the HPV vaccination series. Without vaccination, young people are at a greater risk of developing HPV-related cancers down the line.

Overall, 60% of girls in the age group and 42% of boys have received one or more doses of the vaccine which the CDC reports is 3% higher for girls and 8% higher for boys compared to data from 2013.

Currently it is recommended by the CDC that girls and boys ages 11 to 12 get the HPV vaccine. While the new numbers are an improvement from prior years, medical experts would like to see greater HPV vaccine use, especially since the vaccine prevents cancer.

HPV is not an uncommon infection. Other data from the CDC shows sexually active men and women will get at least one type of the virus at some point during their lives. Each year around 27,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with HPV-caused cancer.

We are missing crucial opportunities to protect the next generation from cancers caused by HPV,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases in a statement.

TIME Sex/Relationships

Fewer Teens Are Having Sex Than in the Past

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Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

New data shows the number of teenagers who have sex continues to drop

The number of teenagers who have had sex has significantly dropped over the last quarter century, new federal data shows.

The number of teens from ages 15 to 19 who have had sex dropped 14% for females and 22% for males over the past 25 years, revealed new data published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics. According to the new report, which uses national survey data from 2011-2013, 44% of female teens reported having sex at least one time and 47% of men reported the same.

MORE: The Teen Birth Rate Is Now At an All-Time Low

The report shows that in the early teenage years, male teens were more likely than female teens to report having had sex, but by age 17, the rates were similar. Most teenagers said they used contraceptives. From 2011-2013, 79% of females and 84% of males said they used a contraceptive when they had sex for the first time and condoms were used most often. The data also shows that 60% of female teens said they had used withdrawal as a contraceptive method and 54% had used the pill. The CDC also reports that teenage women who did not use a contraceptive during their first sexual intercourse were twice as likely to become teen mothers compared to their peers who did use birth control.

Over the last 10 years of available data, the number of teenage girls who have used emergency contraception has also increased from 8% in 2002 to 22% in 2011–2013.

MORE: U.S. Teen Trends In Sex, Bullying, Booze and More

The new findings fall in line with other recent federal data showing the U.S. teen pregnancy and birth rate is on the decline, possibly due to a drop in sexual activity and an increased use of contraceptives. Why teenagers are reporting less sexual activity is not fully understood, but public health experts have credited the increase in contraceptive use to more education and lower costs for methods thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Still, the CDC notes in the new report that America’s rates remain higher than other developed countries.

TIME Smartphones

This Is What Teens Are Really Doing on Their Phones

New report reveals all

It’s amazing how glued snake people—er, millennials—are to their palm-sized, Internet-connected rectangles. But why?

Mary Meeker, the Morgan Stanley analyst turned venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins, today released her annual report on Internet trends. One section—slides 68 through 70, in particular—digs into the mobile habits of American youth, and it reveals some interesting statistics.

Fortune senior writer Leena Rao has a breakdown of the year’s biggest overall trends here. But for the millennial scrutinizer, here’s what the 2015 slideshow has to say:

First off, 87% of young adults—or those between the ages of 18 and 34—who own smartphones report never separating from their mobile devices: “My smartphone never leaves my side, night or day.” And four-out-of-five of them report that the first thing they do upon waking “is reach for my smartphone.” Good morning, screen-glow.

Nearly as many, 78%, spend more than two hours per day using their smartphones. And three-out-of-five believe that mobile devices will somehow vaguely rule every aspect of the future: “In the next five years, I believe everything will be done on mobile devices.”

So what do teens care about now on their phones? For those who average roughly 16 years, about one third report prioritizing Instagram as the most important social network. That’s about the same as the share that reported Facebook [fortune-stock symbol=”FB”] was the most important in Spring 2013. Today, Facebook’s share of perceived importance has halved among that demographic.

While Zuck’s friend-zone still has the most penetration of any social network—about three-quarters of 12- to 24-year-olds use it—that share is in decline. It dropped from to 74% this year from 80% last year.

Other networks that lost some share include Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. Vine stayed steady at 30% in terms of usage among socially networked 12- to 24-year-olds. And those networks on the rise? Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest. (WhatsApp lacks 2014 data, but clocked in at 11% this year.)

Instagram appears to be the king, for now. (Never mind that it’s a Facebook fiefdom.) Which explains why so many—44% of 18- to 24-year-olds, that is—report report using their smartphone camera at least once per day. And an overwhelming majority—about three-quarters of 18- to 34-year-olds—report that they use their cameras to post pictures to social media.

So that’s how teens are mostly using their phones. To take pictures of the world around them, and to inject those photos into and across the screens that consume their mornings, their days, their nights, and a good portion of their present lives. Not to mention the entirety their future lives, as many of them report anticipating.

Unfortunately, the report does not break its numbers out into share of selfies.

MONEY Autos

Skidding Kids Learn Safe Driving at BMW’s School for Teens

A two-day course at BMW's U.S. headquarters teaches both safety and fun. A free, trimmed down version is coming to a city near you.

BMW, which bills its brand as “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” is trying to improve the skills of teenagers who may be driving its cars.

The German manufacturer is taking its teen driving school on the road this year, offering a free, two-hour classes in Miami, Washington, DC, Seattle, and other major cities. Go to ude.bmwusa.com for reservations and details about the classes — which are offered alongside free and paid BMW-centric programs for adults.

The traveling class is an abbreviated version of a two-day driving school that BMW offers at its U.S. headquarters in Spartanburg, S.C., and near Palm Springs, Calif. To get a first-hand look at the two-day class, I accepted an invitation to attend the Teen Driving Program in Spartanburg. I brought along the most recently licensed teen I know, my stepson-to-be, Gavin.

The $1,295 course started off with a classroom session led by chief instructor Derek Leonard. After a quick meet-and-greet, Leonard stated his goals: Safety, fun, excitement, and education — and likely not in that order.

He then jumped right into specifics, such as the importance of keeping your eyes up and looking where you want to go — not at what you want to avoid! Make sure your seating position is upright and closer to the steering wheel than you think you should be. Hands should always be at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. And adjust your side mirrors. Eighty percent of drivers mis-adjust their side mirrors and cause overlapping fields of vision, said Leonard.

By mid-morning, Gavin and the other 13 teens were put into teams and led outside to a flock of awaiting M235i’s. As one group learned the quick way about oversteering and understeering on a wet skid pad, the other group practiced lane changes and ABS braking at increasing speeds. By afternoon, the students were competing for points on a challenge course.

Day Two turned the heat up even more with double lane-change exercises, high-speed braking, more skid pad laps, and, finally, what BMW calls a “performance drive.” Teens took turns doing laps on a small road course in several different BMWs, including a Z4 convertible (very popular), a 5 Series sedan, and an X3. By then, there was a clear air of confidence about all the students.

In the end, 14 new drivers had improved road and car control skills — and presumably a greater attachment to BMWs.

Luckily, BMW runs concurrent adult driving schools, so I didn’t just have to observe. Why should the teens have all the fun?

TIME celebrities

Justin Bieber Crashed a High School Prom This Weekend

You better Belieb it

Justin Bieber crashed a Southern California high school’s prom on Saturday night.

According to Hollywood Life, Bieber was on the way to a recording studio that was at the same location as Chatsworth Charter High School’s prom. In an apparently impulsive decision, the pop star decided to show his face — and chaos ensued.

One girl was even lucky enough to get a (extremely short) dance with music idol.

Let’s hope the DJ was wise enough to play “Baby” immediately afterward.

TIME Sex/Relationships

Teens Aren’t Using the Most Effective Birth Control

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Photo Illustration by Mia Tramz for TIME; Corbis

A new CDC report reveals few teens use IUDs and implants

American teenagers are getting better at practicing safe sex, but a new federal report reveals very few teens are using the most effective forms of birth control.

In the new report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at 2005–2013 data from the Title X National Family Planning Program on teen contraceptive use and found that teen use of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)—such as the intrauterine device (IUD) and the implant—are up but still very low. The numbers show that U.S. teen LARC use increased from under 1% in 2005 to 7% in 2013. Implants were used more than IUDs by women of all ages. The state with the highest use of LARC among its teens in 2013 was Colorado at 26%. All other states ranged from use of less than 1% to 20%.

Currently, teens are opting for methods like condoms and birth control pills, which while still good options, are less effective and more prone to incorrect or inconsistent use.

MORE: Why The Most Effective Form of Birth Control is the One No One Uses

The benefit of contraceptives like the IUD and implant are that they are low maintenance and highly effective. For example, the typical use failure rate of the IUD is 0.2% and for the implant it’s 0.05%. By comparison, the birth control pill and vaginal ring have a failure rate of 9% and condoms have a fail rate of 18%.

In 2012, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), considered an authority on reproductive health, concluded that IUDs and implants are safe and appropriate for adolescents and teens. In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agreed and said it recommends LARC for adolescents.

“Long-acting reversible contraception is safe for teens, easy to use, and very effective,” said CDC principal deputy director Ileana Arias in a statement. “We need to remove barriers and increase awareness, access, and availability of long-acting reversible contraception such as IUDs and implants.”

CDC

According to the new CDC report, there are a variety of reasons why a young person may not opt for the IUD or implant. Many teens don’t know very much about them and they often think they are too young to use them. As TIME reported in June, some physicians may remember the IUDs of past, which caused severe problems for women and were discontinued. Modern-day IUDs are safe and appropriate but there are still misperceptions about the device that persist within the medical community. Many providers are also not properly trained on insertion or removal of the IUD and implant. However, a recent report showed that among female health care providers 42% use LARC, which is much higher than both the general population of teens and adult women.

Overall, the CDC report shows that American teens are waiting to have sex, and when they are sexually active, nearly 90% report using birth control. The teen pregnancy rate in the United States appears to be steadily dropping, though in 2013 over 273,000 babies were born to girls between ages 15 and 19. The CDC says encouraging young women to consider LARC is an important strategy for further reducing teen pregnancy.

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