TIME

Parents, Unite! No Apple Watch for Kids

The new Apple Watch is displayed during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on Sept. 9, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif.
The new Apple Watch is displayed during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on Sept. 9, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

You know it’s coming. While the sensible majority of parents has already decided the new $350 Apple Watch is too pricey, fancy, and much for a child, some kid with a generous grandma and a knack for ruining everything will turn up at middle school wearing one. She’ll flash the candy-colored apps, shoot the breeze with Siri, and show everyone her heartbeat in real time on the teeny-tiny, supershiny screen. It’s going to look so cool. Our kids may be irreparably dazzled. When this happens, what’s our plan? We’re going to need a plan.

First, we will point out to our older kids that they (probably) already have a perfectly good cell phone that makes calls, sends texts, and yes, tells time. It may even have GPS, WiFi, a browser, FaceTime calling—depending on your house rules and, perhaps, your generous grandma situation. No matter what the phone’s functionality, it will be easier to see and use on the phone they already have than on a wristwatch. That’s right, after fretting and setting limits on the amount of time our tweens and teens spend staring into the phone, we now may have to concede that their current phone is completely awesome. (And be thankful they keep it in their book bags some of the time instead of on their wrists all of the time.)

Next—and let’s just put our foot down and make this the final point, end of discussion—we say “Three. Hundred. Fifty. Dollars.” Don’t bother pointing out that use of an Apple Watch is only possible with an iPhone, so that the wearer must actually own both devices. Refrain from adding that it would be a great tragedy to lose such an expensive item at the park or in the locker room. Not necessary. He’s not going to lose it, because he’s not going to get it.

It seems to me that some of the functions that garnered the Apple Watch a standing ovation during its introduction on September 9 might be downright dangerous in the hands of kids. The constant biometric feedback regarding your activity level and fitness is a major feat of personal technology. But how might a young girl whose body image is in flux react to this information overload? Constant feedback of any kind could be a nightmare for kids with attention-deficit issues. Even the most focused among us may have to adjust to being “tapped” on the wrist by a watch every time we get a message, call, or hand-drawn picture from a friend’s watch. Kids who already have trouble concentrating might completely lose it.

That’s the plan, and I hope you’re in. Between us, though, and let’s whisper now: Could there be any upside to getting a kid this watch? Certainly, one could follow a kid’s whereabouts and stay in contact by calls and messages, but most of that is already possible with a phone. What about the kid whose imagination is set alight by new technology, who wants to understand everything about the latest developments in the digital world? We all know kids who outsmart us on our own smart phones, seemingly by pure intuition, and are experts on how digital devices work. If these kids are the inventors of tomorrow, maybe there’s a case to be made for letting them experience the Apple Watch up close. However, I’d say such kids might benefit from being allowed limited access to a grown-up’s Apple Watch, just to see how it works.

Most kids wouldn’t dare to ask for a $350.00 watch, and I hope that mine has the good sense to be among them. Perhaps she will remember the undercurrent of tension in our home while, for a full 48 hours, her smart phone was sealed in a jar of dry rice, recovering from having been “splashed at the sink”—a euphemism for “submerged in the bathtub,” I’m pretty sure. The pressure of keeping an even more expensive device from damage or loss just might be too much.

A year or two from now, when the newness of Apple Watch has worn off and the price has come down, maybe your kid will have saved up enough money to buy his own. By then, of course, there will be some new and more insidious gizmo in the spotlight, Apple Contact Lenses or Apple BrainChip. Let’s stick to the plan: No, you cannot have that because you don’t need it. Yes, please show me how mine works.

TIME Viral Videos

Teens React to the Nintendo Entertainment System in Hilarious Video

Starring Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams

Grab your controllers, because the latest installment of The Fine Bros. web series, “Teens React” introduces the raised-on-Wii kids of today what the past generation had to use to play Legend of Zelda.

The games themselves stumped some of the new players. While the tech-savvy teens had all heard of Super Mario Bros., thanks to the fact that it had been released for the Nintendo DS, Dragon Warrior 3 elicited confusion across the board, from “No, but it sounds rad!” to “No, I don’t LARP.”

The players were left to their own devices to figure out how to insert the seemingly giant cartridge into the console, but when trouble struck, the film makers instructed them on the fine art of blowing on the game cartridge. The teens were then allowed to play the first round of Super Mario Bros. and they all struggled to use the controller (“This is the least comfortable controller ever!”) while trying to collect coins and being chased by evil mushrooms (“I literally died the first time”) and gawking at the old-school graphics (“I feel like I’m in Wreck-It Ralph!”)

After getting versed in the history of the NES, the teens did take a moment to offer their respect to the classic console, thanking the little gray box for introducing the world at large to the joys of at-home gaming.

While the teens may have found the exercise slightly humiliating, the more insightful ones knew that it was pure karma. “I always make fun of my dad for not knowing how to use stuff,” noted one dejected teen. “Now he’s going to be watching this.”

MORE: Little By Little, Violent Video Games Make Us More Aggressive

MORE: Watch Kids React in Utter Bemusement at the Sight of an Old Computer

TIME apps

Teenage Kid Ignoring Your Calls? There’s an App for That

iphone teenager
Getty Images

The "Ignore No More" application locks teens Android phones until they call mom or dad back

A New York mom got so sick of her teen kids ignoring her calls she created an app so they couldn’t.

Sharon Standifir, the creator of the “Ignore No More” smartphone application, told CBS New York that after repeatedly having her calls to her teens go unanswered, she researched how to develop an application that would shut their phones down until they called her back.

And so, that’s what she created after working with developers for months. The $1.99 app, which is currently only available for download on Android phones, allows parents lock their kids’ phones from a separate device, forcing them to call a list of select numbers (including 911) in order to gain access to the device.

“No calls to friends, no text, no games, notta’ until they call you back. When they do, you can unlock their phone if you choose to do so,” reads the application’s website. “How’s that for parental control?”

 

TIME Sex

This Sex-Ed Book Is Way Too Sexy, Parents Complain

Sex Spelled in Alphabet Blocks
Corbis

Teaches ninth-graders about masturbation, like they've never heard of it before

California parents are complaining that a new sex-education book for ninth-graders has way too much hot, naked sex in it.

The Fremont school board voted to replace a 10-year-old sex-ed book with a new book, titled Your Health Today, which includes details about things like foreplay, masturbation and bondage.

Some parents are not happy about it. Almost 2,000 of them have signed a petition to remove the book from schools, but the school district says it has no intention of pulling it.

“There’s a section that tells you how to talk to your prospective partners about your sexual history,” parent Asfia Ahmed told the San Jose Mercury News. “I am a very liberal person, and, in spite of that, I still find the book shocking.” Other parents were appalled to find mentions of ropes, handcuffs and sex toys.

School-board president Lara Calvert-York said that despite parental objections, it’s better to educate teens early, before they become sexually active. “Ninth grade is the last time when we have an opportunity to help educate our students on how to be physically and emotionally safe,” she told the Mercury News.

[San Jose Mercury News]

 

TIME politics

Marijuana Should Be Legal, but …

499270745
Nepalese Marijuana Getty Images

We must treat drug use for what it is: a health, not a criminal, issue

Yes, it’s harmful, and yes, it should be legalized.

It’s not often that the White House responds directly to a newspaper op-ed, as it did last week when the New York Times editorial board published its opinion that the federal government should repeal the ban on the production, sale and use of marijuana. The Office of National Drug Control Policy swiftly responded, reiterating its stand that it “continues to oppose” legalization.

The editorial board listed sound arguments, including the social costs of prohibition. However, the board was remiss when it effectively brushed aside what it acknowledged are the “legitimate concerns” about marijuana’s impact on the development of adolescent brains. Even supporters of legalization, of which I’m one, must not underestimate those concerns. The ONDCP was right when it said, in its response to the Times, “policymakers shouldn’t ignore the basic scientific fact that marijuana is addictive and marijuana use has harmful consequences.”

Some proponents of legalization maintain that marijuana is harmless, but it isn’t — especially when it comes to kids. Indeed, I’ve spoken to many supporters of legalization. They don’t want their children using marijuana any more than those opposed to legalization do.

A body of research shows that marijuana causes structural and functional changes in the developing brains of adolescents. By stunting communication between brain regions, it impairs high-level thinking. There’s evidence that it impacts memory, too, and, for a small minority of kids, can trigger latent mental illnesses like schizophrenia. Also, marijuana users are more likely to suffer from clinical depression than others, though, as Ty S. Schepis, assistant professor of psychology at Texas State University, notes, “It’s unknown if pot causes depression; it may be that depressed people smoke pot.” What is known is that the often stated contention that no one gets addicted to pot is contradicted by the fact that an estimated 9% do. I once visited an adolescent treatment center where most patients between 14 and 20 were there because of an addiction exclusively to pot — anyone who says that marijuana isn’t addictive should talk to these kids. Indeed, in spite of a basketball net outside and other recreational facilities, it wasn’t summer camp; those kids had all suffered devastating consequences from their pot smoking, and most had tried to stop but couldn’t.

There are more reasons to worry that regular pot smoking could significantly impact a child’s life. The drug may cause something called amotivational syndrome, and adolescents who regularly smoke are less likely to have learned to deal with their emotions, to weather disappointments and to work through difficult times in relationships. In a number of studies, long-term marijuana users reported poorer outcomes on a variety of life satisfaction and achievement measures, including educational attainment, than nonusers.

If marijuana impedes kids’ biological and emotional development, why should it be made legal, especially when there’s evidence that legalization may increase the number of kids who try pot in the first place? First, the assumption of an uptick in use doesn’t take into account countermeasures that can and should be put into place. (Following the model of alcohol, the Times advocates a prohibition of sales to people under 21, but that ignores the research that shows that the period of adolescent brain development doesn’t end until the mid-20s.) Science-based regulations must be put in place and enforced. Next, education and other prevention strategies must accompany legalization, and they should be paid for by the savings and revenue that would come with legalization. Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron calculated that if marijuana were legalized, the government would save $7.7 billion annually in law-enforcement costs, and it could bring in an additional $6.2 billion a year if pot were taxed at rates similar to alcohol and tobacco. That’s $13.9 billion per year that could, and should, be earmarked to prevention campaigns, as well as treatment for those who become addicted.

The fact is, the illegal status of marijuana hasn’t stopped millions of kids from smoking it every day, and it may stop many from seeking help. No one should be arrested for smoking pot. Children should be educated and, if problems develop, immediately treated so they don’t escalate. People who are arrested for drug use are likely to descend into more use. Think about it. Take a child who does what so many kids do these days: she’s with friends, someone hands her a joint, and she tries it. Now she’s broken the law. If her use escalates and she winds up in the criminal-justice system, she’s entered one of the highest-risk groups for addiction. Kids punished for using are under great stress, which increases their risk. If they’re expelled from school or lose a job, their prospects are fewer. This recipe creates not only more drug use, but more dangerous use.

Until we become more effective in our prevention efforts, many kids are going to try pot. Some will smoke a lot, and some will become addicted. We must have a new conversation with them, treating drug use for what it is: a health, not a criminal, issue. We must legalize marijuana and take the decision to use or not out of the realm of morality and judgment. We communicate the message that bad kids use drugs, good kids don’t. But as a pediatrician I know put it: these aren’t bad kids; they’re our kids. We mustn’t stigmatize. Instead, we must educate and nurture them, and build their resilience so they grow up safety and healthily.

David Sheff’s latest book is Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy, the follow-up to his New York Times No. 1 best seller, Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction. Follow him on Twitter @david_sheff.

MONEY Shopping

12 Iconic Stores and Restaurants That Are Rapidly Disappearing

RadioShack store in downtown Cincinnati
Al Behrman—AP

A dozen once-ubiquitous retailers and restaurants—places where you probably shopped and dined at as a kid—may soon be shutting their doors.

Moody’s Investors Service said in a report this week that RadioShack is in danger of running out of cash by autumn of 2015, according to Bloomberg News. It’s the latest indication that the struggling chain is doomed, following news in the spring that it planned to close up to 1,100 stores. (Those plans were scaled back to around 200 store closures, but still…) The electronics chain’s difficulties probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given the times we live in today. After all, the word “radio” is in the name. Who buys radios anymore?

RadioShack is hardly the only well-known national chain that is flummoxed by the ultra-competitive, rapidly changing modern-day marketplace and shutting locations, among other steps, as a survival tactic. Here are 11 others.

Albertsons
Amid toughening competition in the grocery space—low-cost upstarts, dollar stores, big box all-purpose stores, and online sellers have all stepped up their game—the Albertsons supermarket chain announced earlier this year it would be closing 26 stores, most of them in California. In late July, Albertsons bought Safeway, and the merger is expected to bring about more store closures, most likely ones operating under the Albertsons or Vons brand.

Staples
Quite a lot is riding on the current back-to-school shopping season for Staples. After a subpar fourth quarter last year, it announced it would close as many as 225 stores in 2014, after closing 42 throughout North American in 2013. Declining sales have continued into the first half of 2014, largely due to the widespread consumer “shift to e-retailers, mass merchants and drugstores to buy their office supplies,” as Reuters put it. More closures are inevitable if sales during the all-important back-to-school period aren’t up to snuff—and maybe even if they’re decent, as Staples seems increasingly focused on online sales.

Family Dollar
In April, after yet another report of declining store sales, Family Dollar said it would be shutting 370 locations. Now that rival Dollar Tree is buying Family Dollar, it’s likely that more stores—from one or both of these brands, which often have locations in very close proximity to each other—will disappear.

Quiznos
The toasted sandwich chain peaked sometime in the early ’00s, when it boasted some 5,000 stores around the U.S. Quiznos closed around 2,000 locations during the Great Recession years, not only because household spending budgets shrunk, but also because of increased competition from highly successful Subway and all manner of trendy fast-casual restaurants. The more positive economic climate of recent years hasn’t brought Quiznos back from the brink. The company filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. While Quiznos wants to put this all in the past, a trickling of closures continues, such as one planned to take place in Austin in August.

Aeropostale
24/7 Wall Street put Aeropostale on its list of “10 Brands That Will Disappear in 2015,” and some 125 of its stores are set to disappear by the end of the current fiscal year. The company’s sales and stock price have been cratering due to what’s described as a “seismic shift” in teens’ fashion taste.

Abercrombie & Fitch
Similar to Aeropostale, the much-higher priced Abercrombie & Fitch has cited a “challenging retail environment,” especially among teens, as a prime reason for declining sales—and why it is being forced to close dozens of stores. The overpriced merchandise and the fat-shaming comments of its CEO probably haven’t helped either.

Toys R Us
The continued shift to online shopping, combined with a shift among consumers away from toys and more toward gadgets, has had the toy store giant in a funk for years. To cope with declining sales, there have been thousands of layoffs at the retail and administrative levels, and some expect store closures at any moment. Overall, things look grim. “There is a 50-50 chance the company can survive,” Howard Davidowitz, chairman of the retail consulting firm Davidowitz & Associates, told the The Record in New Jersey, home of Toys R Us’s headquarters. “I’m not saying they are finished. I would not say that. But there is a limited time, given the debt level they have, for this business to get fixed.”

TCBY
Once 1,500 franchises strong, TCBY has closed two-thirds of its locations over the years. TCBY has tried many things to kickstart the business—Greek fro-yo, sharing space with sister brand Mrs. Fields Cookies—but some think that TCBY is likely to suffer the same fate as Crumbs, the trendy cupcake chain that recently shut down.

Barnes & Noble, J.C. Penney, Sears
The decline, and perhaps impending death, of these three iconic, old-timey retailers has been discussed for so long that it’s almost surprising they’re still around. Barnes & Noble has closed 10% of its stores over the last five years, despite the fact that its long-time book-selling rival, Borders, is no longer in the picture, and despite relentless pressure from Amazon.com. J.C. Penney is routinely described as being in a “death spiral” and “at death’s door.” As for Sears, when CEO Edward Lampert was speaking to investors this past spring, he offered a brutally honest vision of what’s to come. “Closing stores is going to be part of our future,” he said.

Read More:
10 Things Americans Have Suddenly Stopped Buying
10 Things Millennials Won’t Spend Money On

TIME viral

Dear Teens: Please Stop Lighting Yourselves on Fire

sb10068683a-001
Mark Weiss—Getty Images

The newest viral video trend is literally on fire

Trends change with the seasons, and for America’s Internet-addled teens, there is nothing more trendy than melting skin. Now that the season for tossing boiling water into sub-zero air is far behind us, listless teens have found new ways to critically burn themselves. Betraying a nostalgia for simpler times, some of today’s young adults have returned to the most reliable route to injury in the name of YouTube infamy: dousing your body in accelerant and just straight up lighting yourself on fire.

The Daily Dot reports that videos of teens purposefully engulfing themselves in flames are spreading like wildfire across social media platforms like Vine and YouTube. One Kentucky teen whose video went viral even had to be treated for second-degree burns to his torso.

It is scientifically proven that hormones are extremely flammable even without the help of lighter fluid. This is why it is absolutely crucial for teens to stay away from anything that poses a fire hazard, such as matchbooks or a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

So, kiddos, please step away from the lighter fluid or I will use it to burn this One Direction poster, and you wouldn’t want that now, would you?

TIME Living

Why Teens Are Turning to Human Growth Hormones for the ‘Perfect’ Body

A generation aware of the risks of eating disorders now has performance-enhancing drugs available at a click--but not much information on their possible side effects.

A new survey from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids found that 11% of the 3,705 high-schoolers surveyed reported “having used” synthetic human growth hormones without a prescription. This reflects that use may have more than doubled from when a similar survey was conducted four years ago. One in five teens even reported knowing at least one friend who uses a performance-enhancing drug (PEDs).

As an educator who works with children and teens around the country and a high school senior, we believe that more young people are turning to steroids and other PEDs for one reason: the constant pressure for both boys and girls to have a “perfect” body.

It’s common knowledge that girls are under tremendous pressure to conform to an unhealthy and unrealistically thin body image. It may seem odd that some girls would look to PEDs to achieve this “perfect” body, but a quick internet search reveals thousands of advertisements for steroids promising weight loss specifically for women. This generation of girls has grown up knowing about eating disorders and their potential health dangers. Is it possible that girls today are now seeking out drugs (that they can instantly buy online) because they think it will give them the edge to achieve the ideal body—without knowing their possible side affects?

For boys, the common assumption is that steroid use is associated with athletes. But there’s increased cultural pressure for all boys, not just athletes, to fit a hyper masculine body image. It begins early (for example, 6-year-old boys commonly believe they should have a six pack) and then intensifies as the boys get older. Combine that with our collective inability or unwillingness to give boys a language, and therefore permission, to talk about the pressure boys feel to conform to an unrealistic image of masculinity (as we regularly do for girls with cultural messages of femininity) and it’s almost impossible for boys to admit their shame and inadequacy. Consequently, they’re driven to solve the “problem” privately, however they can. In that light, taking PEDs for purely aesthetic reasons becomes a logical decision.

For high school athletes, it’s all about getting bigger and better. Almost every guy wants to gain weight and muscle. Even among non-athletes, many boys get teased for being skinny and small or having “moobs (“man boobs”). But just as constant is boys’ insistence that they can never share these humiliations publicly. In the rare times they do complain, adults hardly give it the serious consideration they do when girls are targeted in the same way.

In the January issue of JAMA Pediatrics, a study (Prospective Associations of Concerns About Physique and the Development of Obesity, Binge Drinking, and Drug Use Among Adolescent Boys and Young Adult Men) reported that 18% of boys are highly concerned about their weight and physique. They’re also at increased risk for a variety of negative outcomes: Boys in the study who were extremely concerned about weight were more likely to be depressed, and more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors such as binge drinking and drug use. Though 18% might be on the low side, between 28% and 68% of young men at a normal weight perceive themselves to be underweight, according to the .

What’s the cost? The common assumption is that boys don’t care about being teased about body image the way girls do. We challenge that assumption and want to shift the conversation about PEDs and body image so we all believe boys have the right to receive the same empowering messages that girls get. We live in a culture that can undermine your sense of self by giving you one, almost impossible, image of an “acceptable” body. Boys, just like girls, have the right to know that. Boys, just like girls, have the right to acknowledge that it affects your sense of self and you have the right to talk about it without being dismissed or ridiculed. And finally, boys, just like girls, have the right to be educated about these issues so they don’t risk their physical health and emotional well being to chase an impossible ideal.

Rosalind Wiseman is the author of Masterminds &Wingmen and Queen Bees & Wannabes. Keo Jamieson is a senior at Boulder High School in Boulder, Colorado.

TIME Sex

Losing Your Virginity Is Better Than Ever

New study shows that the "first time" is more enjoyable for this generation than for previous ones

If you’re a young virgin, you’re in luck! According to a new study from the Journal of Sex Research, losing your virginity these days is more enjoyable than it’s been in 20 years, at least if you’re a woman.

Researchers found overall gender differences in male and female approaches to virginity loss, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Men are much more likely to have a “pleasurable experience” than women (a truth universally acknowledged) but also reported more anxiety surrounding the act. Women were much more likely to feel guilty after having sex for the first time.

But the good news is that those differences have changed significantly since the research started in 1980. While men reported the same amount of “pleasure” from their first sexual experience across three decades, women have reported a significant increase in first-time-fun-times since the study began. Men also reported less anxiety over the three decades, and women reported less guilt. Which means losing your virginity now is probably going to be a better experience now than ever before.

The researchers also point out that the findings are consistent with the theory of erotic plasticity, which states that female sexuality is more likely to change with social and cultural norms.

But if women are reporting more pleasure and less guilt from their first time, and men are reporting less anxiety, that’s good news for everyone!

 

MONEY Shopping

WATCH: Why You’re Spending More on School Supplies This Summer

Families are spending $75 billion this summer on pencils, electronics, clothing, and more.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser