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GET EDUCATED

Best Online Resources for Teens and Preteens

January 9, 2015  |  Falmouth Enterprise

Dr. Michael Bihari

Last month, the Risky Business column included an outline of the five best online resources for parents to learn about substance abuse. Either using a shared computer at home, school, or the library or their own devices—smart phone, tablet, or laptop—our teens and preteens have easy access to the internet. 

If you’re interested in having your kids learn more about preventing and managing underage drinking, prescription pill abuse, marijuana use, and the growing heroin problem you can provide them with the resources described in this article, which are recommended by the Falmouth Prevention Partnership. All of these sites are free of advertisements, are accurate and up-to-date, and provide information that is based on sound scientific evidence.

These resources may help provide your children with the information they need to make better decisions and are a great way to stimulate a conversation about substance abuse. It might be interesting for everyone in the family to review one of the sites and have a discussion during a family meal.

KidsHealth With up to one million visits every day, KidsHealth is the most-visited internet site for information about the health, behavior, and development of kids from birth through the teen years. The site is divided into three sections-parents, kids, and teens, each presenting similar information but presented at the appropriate level. The best way to access the information you are looking for is to use the search box available on each page. Although the site’s navigation and look is a bit outdated, the information is excellent and age appropriate. Use the search box until you get used to how the site works.

Bottom Line: This should be your kids and teens “go-to” site for information about health issues.

National Institute on Drug Abuse

NIDA for Teens This site was designed specifically for teens. Your kids can learn about different types of drugs; ask questions that they might not feel comfortable asking other adults; and, connect with other teens. The site has drug fact sheets, a drugs and health blog, videos, and how and where to get help for a drug problem.

The site also includes engaging multimedia activities that cover the basics of drug use as well as more sophisticated neuroscience topics. These sections are designed for students to explore independently. Pages for parents and educators are also available.

NIDA Children & Teens Page Although overlapping with NIDA for Teens, this resource provides additional resources and a set of drug-related publications for students 

Bottom Line: An excellent option to keep your kids engaged in a wide range of activities from reading basic facts to learning how to work in their community to make changes.

MedlinePlus Produced by the National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus has extensive information from the National Institutes of Health and other sources on over 900 diseases and conditions. From the “Health Topic” tag on the site’s home page, you can easily find information on substance abuse issues, including pages on Underage Drinking; Prescription Drug Abuse; Drugs and Young People; Marijuana; and Heroin, among others. Each page provides access to overviews about the topic, latest news, prevention, treatment, research, medical journal articles, statistics, and related organizations.

Bottom Line: Access to a wide-range of the latest information selected by the world’s largest and most respected medical library. Each health topic has access to information for kids and teens.

Above the Influence This program, part of the not-for-profit Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, is based on feedback from teens about their lives, and how they deal with the influences that shape their decisions. The goal of the site is to help teens stand up to negative pressures, or influences. The more aware teens are of the influences around them, the better prepared they will be to face them, including the pressure to use drugs and alcohol.

Bottom Line: An excellent site to help teens make decisions about drug use and other risky behaviors.

Additional Recommended Resources

Marijuana Facts for Teens FAQs about marijuana.

Stop Bullying This site provides information from various government agencies on what bullying is, what cyberbullying is, who is at risk, and how you can prevent and respond to bullying. 

Just Think Twice Information for teens from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) with drug facts, and physical and social consequences of drug abuse. 

Too Smart To Start Too Smart To Start is a public education initiative sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The site has a section for teens.

Girls Health This site provides girls ages 10 to 16 reliable, useful information on health and well-being.

Sex, etc. This site was created by teens to answer questions about sexual health. Get honest answers about sex, your changing body and how to make the best decisions. The site is a resource from Rutgers University.

And, don’t forget this website (Falmouth Prevention Partnership) that provides access to additional resources and numerous articles about parenting, prescription pill abuse, heroin, marijuana, and underage drinking. Much of the information focuses on our local community.

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