TIME Parenting

8 Ways to Help Cure Your Teen’s Screen Addiction

Teenagers using cellphones
Getty Images/Image Source

Tips from a former advertising insider

Parents welcome technology devices in the home as helpful tools. (Who doesn’t want a homework assistant, a boredom killer, or a virtual chaperone a pre-installed geo-tracker for their teen?) But without parameters, technology is like the obnoxious houseguest who overstays his welcome, while consuming all the snacks in the fridge. Current research reported by the National PTA suggests that the typical American kid devours more than six hours of screen time each day. But parents don’t need studies to know that.

So how do teens reform their technology habits? Author and voice actor Bill Ratner is probably the last person any parent would consult as an expert on the topic. The man made a career out of lending his voice to some of the most aggressive advertising powerhouses around. But Ratner is also a dad. And his lifetime of work in the industry make his perspective a useful one. Consider these eight guidelines based on Ratner’s recent book, Parenting for the Digital Age

  1. Give teens a voice. When they’re part of the decision making process of how and when their household uses technology, teens are more likely to take ownership of the plan. And since teens know technology so well, chances are they’ll help families make better decisions:

“They are familiar with kids who are game-addicts, textaholics, and Facebook freaks. Use the wisdom of your kids to help knit together a strategy to deal with media screens in your home,” says Ratner.

  1. Teach teens to pick up on marketing ploys. Teens who are wise to the ways marketing, advertising, and the media work, are also more keen to tricks of the industry.

“Remember that [teens] have been lured to their screens by masters of their craft, highly paid communication experts whose sole responsibility is to secure kids’ eyeballs and keep them watching day and night,” writes Ratner.

Ask your kids questions about the advertisements they see, questions like: What’s being sold? How is the selling done? Who does the advertiser want to entice? That type of conversation encourages critical thinking in place of passive viewing.
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  1. Resist the cool stuff = cool person image. Teens sometimes connect technology devices with social status. Make it clear that a person’s value isn’t related to the things they own.

Ratner says, “The challenge for parents is to find ways to affirm children’s self-esteem and their membership in their group of peers while making sure that they know the difference between self-worth and simply owning a smart phone or t-shirt. “

  1. Remember that technology use is not an all or nothing matter. Every rule is malleable. Don’t be afraid to adjust a rule that doesn’t quite fit. Each family needs to find the formula that works for them.

“You can negotiate cellphone-free hours at home, web-free spaces in the house, TV-free portions of the week,” says Ratner.

  1. Find allies in other parents. Connect with families from the neighborhood, school, and local place of worship and find out what other parents do to manage technology use in the home.

“. . . Each family must determine the principles and practices that will work for them . . . But there is so much we can learn from the opinions of others,” suggests Ratner.

  1. Don’t just limit media use. Find activities to replace it. And be creative about it. Ratner, and his family enjoy homegrown cabarets as entertainment at their family gatherings and also go to professional storytelling events:

“Confronting the obstacles for families in our digital age can either be a battle or a creative challenge. I find that with a little improvisation, creativity, and the desire to try new things like storytelling, we can lighten our load and inject fun into our lives in simple ways,” prescribes Ratner.

  1. Be O.K. with the backlash that comes with setting parental limits. This is one of those simple and timeless parenting principles. Find which rules work and stick to them. Don’t cave to slammed doors and sucked teeth:

“Psychologists say that when our children shout their demands and complaints at us, they are rehearsing to get their way in the world. Parents are the easiest and safest targets for them to practice on. Will we cover our ears, or will we take the opportunity to teach, guide, and protect?” questions Ratner.

  1. Find ways to make technology habits productive. A technology obsessed teen might be finding a passion. Channel that and put it to work. Enroll that kid in a programming, animation, or app design class.

As a mother and professor whom Ratner interviewed said, “For our family, it wasn’t about restricting access to a computer; it was about educating our kids about what a computer is for, what it’s capable of. In order to survive in the workplace, our kids were going to have to be computer literate. Why not teach them early?”

For additional ideas on managing teen technology habits, visit these online resources:

Common Sense Media — CommonSenseMedia.org
National Institute on Media and the Family —
http://www.ParentFurther.com
Media! Tech! Parenting! —
http://www.MediaTechParenting.net

TIME Research

This Is What’s Keeping Teens From Getting Enough Sleep

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STUDIO BOX—Getty Images

The biggest factor keeping teens up at night isn't technology

Up to a third of teens in the U.S. don’t get enough sleep each night, and the loss of shut-eye negatively impacts their grades, mental well-being and physical health. Biologically, adolescents need fewer hours of slumber than kids — but there’s a bigger reason for teens’ sleep loss, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics.

MORE: The Power of Sleep

Katherine Keyes, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, looked at survey data from more than 270,000 eighth-, 10th- and 12th-grade students at 130 public and private schools across the country, gathered between 1991 and 2010. Each student was asked two questions about his or her sleep habits: how often they slept for at least seven hours a night, and how often they slept less than they should.

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

She found that over the 20-year study period, adolescents got less and less sleep. Part of that had to do with the fact that biologically, teens sleep less the older they get, but Keyes and her team also teased apart a period effect — meaning there were forces affecting all the students, at every age, that contributed to their sleeping fewer hours. This led to a marked drop in the average number of adolescents reporting at least seven hours of sleep nightly between 1991–1995 and 1996–2000.

That surprised Keyes, who expected to find sharper declines in sleep in more recent years with the proliferation of cell phones, tablets and social media. “I thought we would see decreases in sleep in more recent years, because so much has been written about teens being at risk with technologies that adversely affect the sleep health of this population,” she says. “But that’s not what we found.”

MORE: Here’s How Much Experts Think You Should Sleep Every Night

Instead, the rises in the mid-1990s corresponded with another widespread trend affecting most teens — the growth of childhood obesity. Obesity has been tied to health disturbances including sleep changes like sleep apnea, and “the decreases in sleep particularly in the 1990s across all ages corresponds to a time period when we also saw increases in pediatric obesity across all ages,” says Keyes. Since then, the sleep patterns haven’t worsened, but they haven’t improved either, which is concerning given the impact that long-term sleep disturbances can have on overall health.

Keyes also uncovered another worrying trend. Students in lower-income families and those belonging to racial and ethnic minorities were more likely to report getting fewer than seven hours of sleep regularly than white teens in higher-income households. But they also said they were getting enough sleep, revealing a failure of public-health messages to adequately inform all adolescent groups about how much sleep they need: about nine hours a night.

“When we first started looking at that data, I kept saying it had to be wrong,” says Keyes. “We were seeing completely opposite patterns. So our results show that health literacy around sleep are not only critical but that those messages are not adapted universally, especially not among higher-risk groups.”

TIME relationships

Teens Are Totally Over Valentine’s Day

Young love on social media isn't all it's cracked up to be, according to new research provided to TIME

Ah, to be young on Valentine’s Day: walking past aisles of CVS chocolates to pick up your acne medication, stalking your sister’s college roommate on Instagram to admire her cute boyfriend, glaring at the one couple in your high school who prove that teenage love isn’t a cruel rom-com fantasy. Nobody ever said adolescence was a bunch of roses, but now there’s data to prove how sad it really is.

Teenagers are the most miserable group on Valentine’s Day, according to new data compiled by social-media platform We Heart It and provided to TIME. The vast majority of 21,000 responses (over 98%) were from teenage girls, and they didn’t have a lot of love for the holiday. Only 13% of teenagers under 15 think Valentine’s Day is “painful,” while 22% say it’s “overrated,” and 24% think it’s irrelevant. Teenagers are also the least likely age group to send Valentines, with over 53% saying they’re not sending any at all (compared with 41% of respondents over 25).

Teens also have very different attitudes about social media on Valentine’s Day — and it’s giving new meaning to the phrase “love hurts.”

Young teens seem to think that social media is essential to the Valentine’s Day experience: 21% of respondents under 15 said social media was “extremely important” on Valentine’s Day, and over 64% said it was “somewhat” important. By contrast, only 10% of respondents over 25 said they thought it was “very important” to Instagram or Tweet their chocolates and flowers.

But all those vicarious Valentines aren’t making teens feel better — instead, social media make them feel worse. Only 36% said they thought social media made Valentine’s Day more fun, while 65% said social media either made them feel jealous or stressed out (34% said they got jealous, 31% said they got stressed). By contrast, 54% of respondents over 25 said they thought social media made the day more fun.

In other words: Valentine’s Day, like red wine and stinky cheese, just gets better with age.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 3

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. “Even from a libertarian point of view, vaccination is a matter of rational self-interest.”

By Ben Boychuk in the Orange County Register

2. ‘Doubt everything:’ Ukrainian students are warning their Russian counterparts not to trust Putin.

By Arslan Saidov and Claire Bigg in the Guardian

3. To reach kids where they are, provide teens crisis counseling by text.

By Alice Gregory in the New Yorker

4. Is the secret to a cure for HIV lurking in dormant pools of the virus?

By Catharine Paddock in Medical News Today

5. 3D-printed ‘cool bricks’ can naturally air condition a room.

By Whitney Hipolite in 3DPrint.com

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Most Energy Drink Companies Market to Minors, Report Finds

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Senators say energy drink companies should not market to youth under age 18

There’s no denying the energy drink industry is booming, with 60% growth between 2008 to 2012. But a new report from three U.S. senators raises questions about one particular segment of the market that’s growing: minors.

The report, titled “Buzz Kill,” is part of senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)’s ongoing investigation into the energy drink industry. Their primary concerns are lack of regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the drinks, which may pose health problems for kids, adolescents and teens.

In 2013, the three senators sent letters to 16 energy drink companies asking about their willingness to report any adverse reactions to their products as well as to voluntarily submit to restrictions against marketing to young people. In “Buzz Kills,” the senators report that just four of the 12 companies say they avoid marketing their energy drink to people under 18.

“Unfortunately, as long as early development of brand loyalty is seen as a competitive market advantage, energy drink companies will continue with the practice of marketing to teens in the absence of regulation that prohibits it,” the report reads.

The American Beverage Association has long offered guidance to the beverage industry on labeling, advisory statements, and marketing to children, recommending voluntary statements that the drinks are not recommended for kids and that the products not be promoted at K-12 schools. While several energy drink companies, including Red Bull and Monster, have made a commitment not to market to kids 12 and under, some critics say people over age 12 are still at risk for possible health consequences, like neurodevelopment interactions and heart-related effects.

In response to the report, American Beverage Association spokesperson Christopher Gindlesperger said this, in a statement:

“Energy drinks have been enjoyed safely by millions of people around the world for more than 25 years, and in the U.S. for more than 15 years. Energy drinks, their ingredients and labeling are regulated by the FDA, and, like most consumer products, their advertising is subject to oversight from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

This report ignores crucial data about energy drinks and caffeine consumption in the U.S. Based on the most recent government data reported in the journal Pediatrics, children under 12 have virtually no caffeine consumption from energy drinks. This study’s findings are consistent with an analysis commissioned by FDA and updated in 2012, as well as a published ILSI survey of more than 37,000 people which shows that caffeine consumption in the U.S. has remained stable during the most recent period analyzed, while coffee remains the primary source of caffeine in most age groups.

Leading energy drink manufacturers voluntarily go far beyond all federal requirements when it comes to labeling and education. In fact, ABA member companies voluntarily display total caffeine content – from all sources – on their packages along with advisory statements indicating that the product is not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women and persons sensitive to caffeine. They also have voluntarily pledged not to market these products to children or sell them in K-12 schools.

Based on current regulations, the companies are not breaking rules. An FDA regulatory category for “energy drinks” does not exist, and companies can file their energy drinks to the FDA as either foods or dietary supplements. Some companies do not need to label the amount of caffeine in their products, and others are not required to report adverse health events linked to their products. Given the regulatory confusion, the report authors say the FDA and manufacturers need to make some changes for better transparency.

The senators call on the FDA to set a recommendation for the amount of caffeine a child or adolescent can safely consume each day. They also argue that all energy drink companies should commit to providing adverse-event reports to the FDA, and companies should stop promoting their beverages as “sports drinks.”

You can read the full report, here.

As the energy drink market continues to grow, and research continues to develop, the debate over whether energy drinks should be allowed in the hands of teens will continue.

 

MONEY Shopping

Why Teens Hate Shopping at ‘Teen’ Clothing Stores

Paper covers the windows at a closed Wet Seal store on January 7, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Wet Seal, a teen clothing retailer, announced that it has closed 338 of its retail stores and will lay off nearly 3,700 employees.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Paper covers the windows at a closed Wet Seal store on January 7, 2015, in San Francisco.

Teen retailers are suffering for not paying enough attention to the shifting taste of their target audience.

Expect to see more blank storefronts at your local mall—that is if you even go to the mall anymore. Teen clothier Wet Seal announced this week that it will close 338 stores after years of slow sales.

The once popular teen clothing store Delia’s filed for bankruptcy in December with plans to shut down entirely, and yet another apparel specialist targeting teens, Deb Stores, slid back into bankruptcy that same month. The struggles of youth-oriented retailers don’t stop there. Aeropostale lost $141.8 million in its most recent fiscal year and shut 120 stores last year. Rival Abercrombie & Fitch fared little better, while American Apparel has posted net losses of more than $300 million since 2010.

At the same time, sales are booming at shops like H&M, Zara, and Forever 21. The latter plans to double its number of stores in the next three years.

So what happened? Why are teens no longer shopping at the stores that were once the hallmark of “cool”?

1. Individuality Trumps Logos

Thanks to social media—in particular the popularity of searching “outfit of the day” or “OOTD” posts on Instagram—teens now can view hundreds of different products and looks to help them figure out what they want to buy and how to style it. They don’t need a store or brand to help dictate their look for them and aren’t relying on a single brand’s cachet. Instead, millennials favor individuality and shop accordingly. They’re less attached to brands and more willing to mix and match to create their own style, surveys by Nielsen, the Boston Consulting Group, and others have found.

Even Abercrombie, whose name and moose logo were signature design embellishments for every shirt, has realized this. A spokesperson acknowledged to Reuters: “They no longer want to be a walking billboard of a brand. Individualism is important to them, having their own sense of style.” To that end, Abercrombie has shrunk its well-known logo and increased the assortment of offerings in an attempt to better appeal to teens who don’t want to look like store mannequins (or each other).

Abercrombie isn’t the only company that has taken note and been busy “de-branding” designs, notes the Intelligence Group, which found in a study on millennials that they also favor more durable purchases, not flash trends, like classic dark plain denim jeans that can be worn for several years. Retailers that have been more successful with teens of late such as H&M and Forever 21 tend to focus more on selling clothes that seem brandless and still trendy, without prominent logos.

2. “Faster” Fashion Dominates

Stores like Zara, H&M, and Forever 21, which have much shorter waits between when clothing is ordered and when it goes on sale than traditional teen retailers, can roll out new clothing options each week, not each season, meaning they can quickly adopt trends from the catwalk and rapidly bring them to a sales floor. They can also better capitalize on cuts and patterns that are trending well with teens, giving them exactly what they want, faster than ever.

These “fast fashion” shops typically sell clothes at low prices—ideal when your clientele doesn’t have much money—and an ever-changing roster of products lures teens back into stores (or websites) again and again to see what’s new. It’s easy to see how this trend snowballs and hurts the competition, with teens having less time or inclination to look at other shops selling the same 14 sweaters they were a month ago.

3. Malls Are No Longer a Hangout

Remember Clueless, that movie that Iggy Azalea replicates in the “Fancy” music video? In it, privileged 1995 teen Cher’s default retreat is the mall. It’s where she goes to find comfort and break in her new clogs, and where a major popularity restructuring happens. Such a plot point wouldn’t be happening today, and I don’t just mean about the clogs.

Twenty years later, Cher’s counterpart’s default hangout could be at a fast-casual restaurant or at home in front of a screen of some sort. Basically, anywhere but the mall, which has seen a drop in foot traffic across all age groups, but among young people in particular. Strict “parental supervision” policies, like the one Ford City Mall announced this week, make it impossible for some teens to hang out at the mall even if they wanted to, with requirements that anyone under 18 be accompanied by a parent on Friday or Saturday evenings. Roughly 80 other malls have implemented similar policies, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Add in the fact that in 1990, about 3 million retail jobs were held by 16-to-19-year-olds, vs. about 1 million today. When someone works at the mall, they’re more likely to shop there simply as a matter of convenience. Plus, isn’t part of the fun of going to a mall getting to annoy your working friend by unfolding all the shirts or pretending to be interested in smoothies so you can spy on your Jamba Juice crush?

Oh, and young people today are less likely to have driver’s licenses or own cars than prior generations, so it’s just plain more difficult for them to get to the mall. Assuming they wanted to go there, of course.

4. Budget Cuts

Clothing simply isn’t the top spending priority for teens it once was. In 2003, teens spent nearly 30% of their budgets on clothing. Nowadays, that figure has dropped to 21%. Of course, teens in 2003 didn’t have the newest iPhone 6 and its accompanying data plan to pay for or selfie sticks to buy. The best a 2003 teen could hope for was a pink Motorola Razr, if they got a cellphone at all. But the point is that today’s teens and millennials are likely to spend less on clothing and more on electronics and eating out at restaurants like Chipotle.

5. Yoga Pants, Yoga Pants, Yoga Pants

Skinny jeans? Flare? Colored? Forget them all. No teenage girl wants to buy new denim each season when she can slip on the modern uniform involving some variation of yoga pants, leggings, or upscale sweatpants. Sales of these “athleisure” offerings, embodied best by retailer Lululemon, have soared this past year as millennials swap their jeans for bottoms that can do double duty at the gym and school. Sales for activewear topped $35 billion last year and now make up 17% of the total clothing market, according to market-research company NPD Group.

With leggings offering greater wardrobe versatility at a lower cost than a typical pair of denim, teens just aren’t feeling the urge to buy those artfully ripped jeans in 10 different washes that still dominate the offerings from American Eagle Outfitters and Abercrombie & Fitch. And though AEO and Aeropostale have tried to break into the leisurewear market with new offerings, they’re having a hard battle for attention with established players likes Lululemon and Athleta.

MONEY Kids & Money

New Year’s Money Moves for Kids

kid sock coin purses
iStock

These steps will get your child’s finances off to a strong start in 2015.

It’s never too early to start teaching youngsters about personal finance. Here are three tips from financial planners to help your kids become more savvy about spending, saving, and understanding the value of a dollar.

1. Prepare to spend. Is a prom or class trip on the horizon? Have your kid take owner­ship of the budgeting process, says Marguerita Cheng, a financial adviser in Rockville, Md. Regularly depositing babysitting money or other earnings in the bank for a big-ticket purchase will help your child understand how much things cost and what it takes to reach savings targets.

2. Sock money away. Putting money in a Roth IRA lets your child take advantage of both tax-free investing and many years of compound returns. She can contribute some of her earnings (the theoretical limit in 2015 is 100% of earned income up to $5,500); meanwhile, you can encourage her by agreeing to match her contributions, says Cheng.

3. Give a little bit. Plant the seed for charitable giving by showing your kid the positive impact firsthand. “If children are being honest, they don’t want to share,” says Shannon Ryan, who blogs about kids and money at theheavypurse .com. Seeing animals at a humane shelter or volunteering with you at a soup kitchen can help change that mindset.

Related:
How to Avoid Paying for Your Kids…Forever
What Smart Parents Teach Their Kids About Debt
Teach Your Kids Financial Values…Via Cellphone

 

TIME Addiction

Here’s Who’s Most Likely To Black Out While Drinking

passed out girl
Getty Images

Blacking out, or getting so drunk that you can’t remember anything that happened the night before, is all too common among underage drinkers, according to a new study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

In the study, Marc Schuckit, professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Diego, and his colleagues looked at data on 1,402 drinking teenagers in England when they were 15, 16, 18 and 19. They discovered that by the time the teens reached 19, 90% of them had drank so much they experienced a blackout. About half of them had blacked out multiple times.

More than half of people reported having a blackout at every year of follow-up.

Teens who blacked out while drinking tended to be female—likely because they weigh less and have less body water to dilute the alcohol—to smoke, have sensation-seeking and impulsive behaviors, lack conscientiousness and have friends who also drank or used other substances. “It’s not as if a blackout in these kids was an isolated phenomenon,” says Schuckit. “Blackouts are unfortunately often considered to be a funny thing as opposed to dangerous. I am not sure the average person realizes the dangers associated with blackouts.”

A blackout can occur when someone drinks well over their limit. Alcohol is considered a depressant, and when the dose is high enough, depressants are known to impair memory acquisition. When someone blacks out, it means that while they appear to be awake, alert and intoxicated, their brain is actually not making long-term memories of what’s happening. If a person experiencing a blackout is asked what happened to them just 10 minutes ago, they will have no idea.

There are very few, if any, longitudinal studies that have looked at the impact of blacking out on the brain, but experts guess that it isn’t good. High blood alcohol levels are known to cause memory problems later in life, and blacking out is an indicator of drinking too much. Some people may hit that point with fewer drinks than others, and it’s possible that some have a genetically predisposed sensitivity to alcohol’s effects—but blacking out always means you’ve drank too much.

For young people, that behavior concerns experts. “When you really get drunk, literature shows you are opening yourself up to a huge number of problems,” says Schuckit, citing a greater likelihood of getting into accidents and fights, or doing things that one may later regret, including sex.

The study looked at British students, and prior data suggests that they drink more than American students. Still, Schuckit says it should be taken more seriously among young drinkers everywhere.

Read next: This is What Alcohol Does to Your Sleep

MONEY Kids and Money

Trouble Talking to Kids About Money? Try This Book Instead

parents trying to talk to teenage daughter
Getty Images/Altrendo

A new book hopes to impart important money lessons in just a few words and pictures

Talking to your kids about money is never easy. We have so many financial taboos and insecurities that many parents would rather skip it—just like their parents likely did with them. If that sounds like you, maybe a new easy-to-digest money guide written for teens can be part of your answer.

As a parent, you have to do something. Kids today will come of age and ultimately retire in a vastly less secure financial world. Their keys to long-term success will have little to do with the traditional pensions and Social Security benefits that may be a big part of your own retirement calculus. For them, saving early and building their own safety net is the only sure solution.

Most parents get that. After all, adults have seen first-hand the long-running switch from defined benefit to defined contribution plans that took flight in the 1980s. Yet only in the last 15 years have we really begun to grasp how much this change has undermined retirement security. Now, more parents are having the money talk with their kids. Still, many say they find it easier to talk about sex or drugs than finances.

The big challenge of our day, as it relates to the financial security of young people, is getting them thinking about their financial future now while they have 40 or 50 years to let their savings compound. But saving is only one piece of the puzzle. Young people need to protect their identity and their credit score—two relatively recent considerations. Many of them are also committed to making a difference through giving, which is an uplifting trait of younger generations. Yet they are prone to scams and don’t know how to vet a charity.

In OMG: The Official Money Guide for Teenagers, authors Susan and Michael Beacham tackle these and other basics in a breezy, colorful, cleverly illustrated booklet meant to hold a teen’s attention. The whole thing can be read in an hour. I’m not convinced the YouTube generation will latch on to any written material on this subject. And while the authors do a nice job of keeping things simple, they just can’t avoid eye-glazing terms like “liquidity” and “principal.”

But they make a solid effort to hold a teen’s interest through a handful of “awkward money moments,” which illustrate how poor money management can lead to embarrassing outcomes like their debit card being declined in front of friends or having to wear last year’s team uniform because they spent all their money at the mall. “Kids are very social and money is a big part of that social experience,” says Susan Beacham. “No teen wants to feel awkward, which is why we chose this word. If they read nothing else but these segments they will be ahead of the game.”

The Beachams are co-founders of Money Savvy Generation, a youth financial education website. They have a long history in personal finance and created the Money Savvy Pig, a bank with separate compartments for saving, spending, donating, and investing. In OMG, they tackle budgets, saving, investing, plastic, identity theft, giving, and insurance.

A new money guide for young people seems to pop up every few years. So it’s not like this hasn’t been tried before. Earlier titles include Money Sense for Kids from Barron’s and The Everything Kids Money Book by Brette McWhorter Sember. But most often this subject is geared at parents, offering ways to teach their kids about money. Dave Ramsey’s Smart Money Smart Kids came out last spring and due out early next year is The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who are Grounded, Generous and Smart About Money from New York Times personal finance columnist Ron Lieber.

In a nod to how tough it can be to get teens to read a book about money, Beacham suggests a parent or grandparent ask them to read OMG, and offer them an incentive like a gift card after completing the chapter on “ways to pay” or a cash bonus after reading the chapter on budgets and setting one up. “Make reading the book a bit like a treasure hunt,” she says. That just might make having the money talk easier too.

 

 

 

TIME Research

Why People Text And Drive Even When They Know It’s Dangerous

texting while driving
Getty Images

75% of drivers surveyed admit to texting while driving

If you’ve turned on the TV or glanced up at a billboard lately, you know that texting while driving is a bad idea. Celebrities are lending their names to public awareness campaigns, and more than 40 states have banned the practice. A new study surveyed 1,000 drivers and found that 98% of those who text everyday and drive frequently say the practice is dangerous. Still, nearly 75% say they do it anyway.

“There’s a huge discrepancy between attitude and behavior,” says David Greenfield, a University of Connecticut Medical School professor who led the study. “There’s that schism between what we believe and then what we do.”

The lure of text messages is actually a lot like the appeal of slot machines, Greenfield explains: both can be difficult compulsions to overcome for some people. The buzz of an incoming text message causes the release of dopamine in the brain, which generates excitement, Greenfield says. If the message turns out to be from someone appealing, even more dopamine is released.

Curbing this compulsion could take years for the text-obsessed, and doing so might resemble efforts to stop drunk driving, Greenfield says. People need to realize they’re part of the problem before they change their behavior, he adds.

“In order to really include oneself in a group that has a problem with texting and driving, they have to admit their own fallibility, and we’re loath to do that,” Greenfield said.

Multiple public awareness campaigns have taken to the airwaves and internet to target the practice, but it’s unclear how effective they are, given that the public seems to be largely aware of the issue. There might be more actionable solutions in the very near future, however. AT&T, which sponsored Greenfield’s study as part of its “It Can Wait Campaign,” has an app that switches on when a person is driving more than 15 mph and silences incoming text message alerts.

Read next: Why Siri Is the Worst Backseat Driver

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