Archive - September 2019

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Wait to Worry
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Promoting Healthy Technology Use for Youth
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We Are Sweet Enough

Wait to Worry

By: Michele Whitmore

Life can be challenging. Often our emotions seem like a never ending roller coaster that we did not buy tickets to. This roller coaster symbolizes all of the things in our life, our work, our health, or in our relationships that can go wrong and we frequently find ourselves worrying about those things…

Prevent anxiety mental health

But when you really think about it, more often than not, these things go as planned and we worried for nothing.

One of my favorite messages from a business man who is also a motivational speaker, is about waiting to worry. Unfortunately at the moment, his name escapes my memory. Nonetheless, I share his message A LOT (ask my family and friends!) and when worrying starts to take over for me, I think about his message and it helps me keep things in perspective.

“Why wait to worry? Wait until you actually have a reason to worry—something that is happening, not just something that might happen. When I’m tempted to get alarmed, I tell myself, ‘you’ve got to wait to worry! Until you know differently, don’t worry.’

 Waiting to worry helps me develop the habit of not worrying and that helps me not be tempted to worry. I frequently ask the audience what they were worried about this time last year and I get a lot of laughs,” he said, “because most people can’t remember. Then I ask if they have a current worry—you see nods from everybody. Then I remind them that the average worrier is 92% inefficient; meaning, only 8% of what we worry about ever comes true.”

I hope you can see the worth in the above message. There are so many things in our lives that go well, that go as planned, that are exactly how they should be and there are very few (8%?) that don’t. Let’s try to spend more time focusing on the former and not the latter. Let’s try to wait to worry.


Michele Whitmore is the Associate Dean of Students at Johnson State College. She works closely with Student Service Departments within the College to provide purposeful events to students that will strengthen their professional leadership, personal growth, life skills development and social engagement. Thus far, the College has provided educational programs that cover LGBTQ issues, alcohol and drug use, sexual assault prevention, socio-economic struggles, and healthy choices related to eating well and being fit, to name a few. Michele writes about the outreach and program opportunities that enhance the wellness of a campus community.

Promoting Healthy Technology Use for Youth

By: Jessica Bickford

As kids across the region head back to school, the role of and attention they give to their electronic devices often increases. As parents and educators, this often leaves us struggling to monitor and keep up, wondering,

  • What types of apps are being used?
  • How much time is ok?
  • How do we monitor it?
  • Does technology impact sleep and learning?
  • Technology can be a great tool… how do we balance heathy use?
  • What’s FOMO and Finstagram?
  • Will technology impact learning?
  • Can technology increase substance abuse?
  • Will technology impact mental health and emotional development?
  • And more…

In this post I’d like to share a few highlights from Michael Nerney’s* May 2019 presentation, “Don’t Hit Send: The Impact of Social Media on Brain Development,” that will help to answer some of parents’ questions and take a deeper look about how we engage with our youth around technology. These presentations were hosted by Healthy Lamoille Valley at Green Mountain Technology and Career Center and Craftsbury Academy.

If you would like to watch the presentation, I have included a GMATV link at the end of this post. Plan an hour and a half or break it up in chunks; there is valuable information throughout!

Why are devices attractive?

We know that they (youth) are not addicted to their device or they’d never get a new device, but they upgrade their devices all the time… it is clear, through the research…that they are emotionally dependent upon the immediacy of the connection to their peers and others.”

– Michael Nerney

Michael explored why the youth brain becomes wired to social media. In short, “Likes” create the chemical dopamine, a positive reward in the adolescent brain. At a certain point, the brain reaches a saturation threshold and it begins to require more activity to get the same “positive” dopamine reward feelings.

Plus, youth are impacted by their peers. Technology provides the opportunity for immediate peer feedback.

Youth need risk for positive development, and they perceive technology as an area of “safe” risk.

Practical tips for monitoring youth technology usage:

1.  Delay accounts/technology. Wait until your child is developmentally ready before introducing new technology.

2.  When preparing to give your child a phone or electronic device, create a contract for legitimate and valid purposes of having the device. Don’t just give phone over and say, “I hope nothing bad happens…” When you are 13, you don’t get to erase what you see. This website shares helpful examples. http://www.theonlinemom.com/

3. Set expectations that parents have all passwords and that students do not share this information with others, no matter how close the friendship/relationship may seem. (“Don’t fall for the ‘If you love me, you’ll show me by sharing your password’ trap”.)

4. Monitor, monitor, monitor. Set phones, devices, and accounts up so they can be monitored or shut off remotely.

5. Check in often about social media use. Look at the phones with your kids. “Show me what this app does.” Talk about manipulation techniques used online. 

6. Keep devices out of bedrooms and place a charging station in a family area, where devices go at a set time in the evening. Sleep is crucial and the light from the screen impacts melatonin production. Sleep cleans our brains and gets us ready for learning new information the next day. Kids who text after 10 o’clock are often getting 5-6 hours of sleep vs. the 9 hours they need. They are missing at least one whole complete cycle of sleep.

7. Know the abbreviations. (For example, ASL = Age, Sex, Location.)  Here’s a list: https://www.webopedia.com/quick_ref/textmessageabbreviations.asp.

8. Limit time on devices. The more they play with or use technology, the more likely it is to impact sleep patterns, learning, and mental health.  Research shows having a phone next to you can turn 2.5 hours of homework into a 5.5 hour project; it can take 7-9 minutes to reflect, respond, and refocus after each text.    

9. Model positive device and technology use. As parents and caregivers, we set the tone and expectations by what we do.

10. Remember, not everything needs to be digitized. The act of physically writing increases memory and academic performance.

These tips are not limited to phones. Here are additional areas of digital dependence that can produce measurable changes:

  • Online gaming.
  • Digital pornography is changing lives and relationships.
  • Online gambling.
  • Phantom Vibration Syndrome.

We’d love to hear from you!  What has worked well in your home? Are there ideas that you’d like to try?

Resources

Here is a link to watch Michael’s complete presentation. (Start at about 3 minutes in.)

Here is a link to view Michael’s PowerPoint presentation:https://www.healthylamoillevalley.org/wp-content/uploads/DON%E2%80%99T-HIT-SEND-Presention-Michael-Nerney.pdf

The book American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Life of Girls by Nancy Jo Sales explores the impacts of sexting.

The Online Mom website provides knowledge, advice, and tools to help “parents protect their kids and encourage responsible behavior as they make the most of the new digital world.” http://www.theonlinemom.com/

* Michael Nerney is a consultant in Substance Abuse Prevention and Education, with over twenty-six years’ experience in the field. He is the former Director of the Training Institute of Narcotic and Drug Research, Inc. Previous to the Director position, Mr. Nerney held a position as a training specialist for NDRI. His particular areas of expertise include Psychopharmacology, Adolescent Chemical Dependency, and Managing Violent Incidents.


Jessica Bickford works as a Coordinator of Healthy Lamoille Valley, where she has enjoyed writing for their blog. Writing for Copley’s community blog is a natural extension of this experience! Healthy Lamoille Valley focuses on making healthy choices easy choices, realizing that when we have access to healthy options we are less likely to choose behaviors that are harmful. Prevention is really a lifestyle of wise choices that enable us to live life to the fullest.

We Are Sweet Enough

By: Cole Pearson

healthy drinks for kids

As children return to school, nutrition can be an important contributor to them enjoying a successful, healthy school year. Many children enjoy sugar-sweetened beverages, but aren’t our children already sweet enough?

Are we talking about soda?

Yes, but soda is not the only type of sugar-sweetened beverages consumed by kids and adults. Sugar-sweetened beverages are any liquids that are sweetened with various forms of added sugars like brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, and more. Liquid sugar, found in sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks, is the leading source of added sugar in the American diet, representing 36% of the added sugar we consume. We know from the research that 6 in 10 youth and 5 in 10 adults drink a sugar-sweetened beverage on a given day, far exceeding their daily recommended maximum added sugar consumption (6 teaspoons max for kids and women and 9 teaspoons for men).

What is the concern about sugar-sweetened beverage consumption?

We know that drinking just one 12-oz. can of soda per day can increase your risk of dying from heart disease by nearly one-third. Additionally, people who drink one to two sugar-sweetened beverages per day have a 26% higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, compared to people who drink less than one per month. Sugary drinks give the body a blast of sugar and produce triglycerides (aka fat globules). Some of those fat globules get stored in the liver, while others will go into the blood stream, lining the arteries and putting you at risk for heart attack.

Why focus on sugar-sweetened beverages instead of sugary foods?

Although too much sugar in any form is not recommended, sugar-sweetened beverages have particular concerns. An important issue regarding sugar-sweetened beverages is the fact that it is very easy to consume way too much. Studies also show that when we drink sugar-sweetened beverages, we don’t feel as full as we would if we had eaten the same number of calories. So it’s easy to down nine teaspoons (38 grams) of sugar in a single soda – about twice as many as in an apple – and hardly notice.

Fruit juice is good for kids, right?

Although fruit juice is often perceived as healthy, it really is not a good substitute for fresh fruit. That’s because fruit juice often contains more sugar and calories than the fruit itself. In recent years, healthcare professionals have begun to advise against juice for children under age one because of its connection to rising obesity rates and concerns about dental health. We now know that fruit juice offers no nutritional benefit to children under age one and should not be included in their diet.

There are lots of swap ideas that can help reduce sugar in your beverages and RiseVT will be launching the “Sweet Enough” campaign in September to give you lots of swap ideas!  For example, it can make a big difference to swap your kid’s sports drinks for water in a cool water bottle they like, or serve seltzer with a splash of juice as a soda substitute. With six teaspoons as the max added sugar your kid should have in one day, it’s easy to max that out in one beverage—so these swap ideas can add up to make big impacts in health and wellbeing.

So remember, for a healthier, happier life, try limiting sugar-sweetened beverages. After all, our families are already sweet enough!