Preteens & Teens

Tips to Help Families Manage Digital Distraction

Family Digitally Distracted at Breakfast

While cell phones, iPads and computers provide great ways to stay connected and informed, they can also limit quality time between teens and parents. Nancy L. Brown, Ph.D., who leads the Adolescent Interest Group for PAMF’s teen and preteen websites, and Surya Brown-Moffitt, Brown’s daughter and a high school student writer, offer these tips for parents to manage the digital distractions in their families’ lives.

Parents need to model the behavior they want their teens to follow. So make a conscious choice about when to be on the phone or a laptop at home. This way you won’t miss opportunities to connect with your child and you’ll also demonstrate appropriate media use. Talk to your teen about the trade-offs: Time on the phone, tablet or computer limits the time he or she has for family and friends, exercise, homework and hobbies. Also, set limits upfront on the time you’ll both spend using technology to ensure you don’t get digitally distracted.

Think of this as an opportunity to come together as a family and build and model relationships that are thoughtful and caring. You’ll also be teaching your teen that getting the most out of technology also means learning when to turn it off. Read More

Tips for Teens on ‘Graduating’ to Adult Primary Care

Many changes await you as you enter your late teen years. One of these changes is your transition from a pediatrician to an adult primary care doctor. Once you turn 18, you will no longer be seeing a pediatrician, so it’s a good idea to start looking for a primary care doctor before then. Here are some tips to help make that transition easier.

Tell Your Doctor If You’re Moving

If you are going away to college or moving to another city, tell your doctor. If you’re going away to college, give your doctor your school’s health care information. Ask your parents to help you make an information sheet that includes the contact information for your doctor, orthodontist and dentist. Also include on this sheet:

  • Insurance company, policy number and phone number
  • Date of last tetanus shot
  • Name and dosage of daily medications
  • Any allergies to medications
  • When you need your teeth cleaned again (usually every six months)
  • Date of last physical exam
  • Emergency contact information for family and/or friends

Get Help Transitioning

Ask your doctor or another health care professional to help with your transition. Medical centers often offer such appointments.

Outline the different transitional steps, and then assign dates to these steps. (For example, plan on learning how to call in to make an appointment yourself by a specific date, or have your doctor quiz you on your health care insurance on a specified date.) If you overshoot these dates, don’t worry. It’s a learning process.

After The Transition

  • Set an alarm reminding you when to take daily medicines
  • Carry a copy or list of your medications and your doctor’s business card in your wallet with emergency contact information
  • Keep an up-to-date calendar with all appointments
  • Enter your clinic’s number into your cell phone

More detailed information on transitioning from a pediatrician to adult primary care provider is available on PAMF’s Teen Site.

Competitive Sports & Teens: A Good Challenge or Too Much of a Good Thing?

At first glance, having your teen join a year-round competitive sports team may seem like the perfect way to kill two birds with one stone – he or she has no time to turn into a couch potato hooked on texting and Facebook, and also has the opportunity to excel in a sport he or she loves. But before your teen signs up, you should know that teenagers’ bodies are particularly vulnerable to injury as their bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints are going through their most rapid period of growth. The intensity and “no pain, no gain” philosophy of many competitive, year-round sports teams can result in your teen sustaining serious injuries, some with lasting effects.

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A Parent’s Guide to Teen Depression


Although being moody and irritable is often normal for teenagers, depression is not simply a side effect of growing up. Depression is a serious medical condition that affects approximately one in five teens before they reach adulthood and is the leading cause of teen suicide. Parents often feel concerned and unsure of what to do when they think their teen may be depressed.  Talking with your teens regularly, listening to what they have to say, and keeping up with their activities, go a long way to preventing and identifying any depression they may be experiencing. In this blog post, Meg Durbin, M.D., an Internal Medicine doctor and pediatrician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, offers some insights into depression, and answers parents’ commonly asked questions on teen depression and how to help.

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Transitioning from Pediatrics to Adult Primary Care

Among the many changes you experience as you become a young adult is the transition to an adult primary care doctor. Your pediatrician will care for you until you turn 18, so it’s a good idea to start thinking about who will replace your pediatrician before then. Look for a doctor who you are comfortable with and trust, and will be honest with you about any health risks you may have. You also want that person to be easy to reach, as you may be heading off to college.

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Keeping Kids Balanced in the Age of Electronics

The media has been around for decades, but the plethora of technology options today dwarfs what was available even 20 years ago. Between television, MP3 players, video games, computers, cell phones and portable electronic devices, kids’ lives could easily be consumed by electronic devices.

According to a study published by the Kaiser Foundation, kids ages 8 to 18 years old average eight hours of media time every day. We talked to Dr. James Ferrara, a pediatrician at member of the Mills-Peninsula Division of PAMF, about some of the benefits and pitfalls of this exposure.

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