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CDC: Risky Teen Behavior Shifts

GRAPHIC: The new CDC National Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows 41 percent of teens admit to texting or e-mailing while driving. Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
GRAPHIC: The new CDC National Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows 41 percent of teens admit to texting or e-mailing while driving. Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
June 24, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS - Less cigarette smoking, soda drinking and physical fighting, but more time spent with computers and other tech devices. That's the snapshot from the new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) National Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

While the government's goal of reducing teen smoking nationally to less than 16 percent has been met, CDC director Tom Frieden notes it's a fragile victory at 15.7 percent - and it comes with a rise in the popularity of e-cigarettes, smoking pens and electronic hookahs.

"No kid should be exposed to advertising that glorifies the use of nicotine," says Frieden, "or be able to easily buy e-cigarettes because sales of those devices haven't been restricted."

Frieden also voiced concerns about the reduction in condom use among teens, and the inability of most teens to eat a balanced diet. While he noted most young people are spending fewer hours watching television, they've replaced that television viewing with time spent before a computer for reasons other than school instruction.

Stephanie Zaza is the director of the division of adolescent and school health at the CDC. She says while the agency has collected a wealth of data about teens' habits, they still do not have the reasons why kids do the things they do. She notes the alarming statistic of 41 percent of teen drivers who admit to texting or e-mailing while driving, and urges parents to step in to stop any behavior that takes a teen's attention away from the road.

"Parents play an active role in keeping their teen drivers safe by close monitoring, frequent discussions, parent-teen driving agreements and acting as a role model of good driving habits," she says.

The CDC reports car crashes remain the single biggest killer of teens and young adults, causing 23 percent of the deaths between those 10 to 24 years of age.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN