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CDC: Risky Teen Behavior Shifts

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Less cigarette smoking, soda drinking and physical fighting, but more time at computers and other tech devices. That’s the snapshot from the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Youth Risk Behavior survey.

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

“No kid should be exposed to advertising that glorifies the use of nicotine,” said Friden. “Or be able to easily buy e-cigarettes because their sales haven’t been restricted.”

Frieden said he’s also concerned about declining condom use and poor diets among teens.

The study also found that most young people are spending fewer hours watching TV, but more time in front of a computer for non-school reasons.

Stephanie Zaza is director of the division of adolescent and school health at the CDC. She said the center has a lot of great data, but they don’t know why kids do the things they do. She found it alarming that 41 percent of teen drivers admit to texting or e-mailing while driving. She urged parents to take steps to stop behavior that takes a teen’s attention away from the road.

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

The CDC study also found that vehicle accidents cause 23 percent of deaths among 10-to-24-year-olds, making it the biggest killer of teens and young adults.

Read more about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior survey.