The Planet Youth survey had some really positive findings related to family life and the relationships that our teenagers have with their parents. 91% stated that it’s easy to receive caring and warmth from their parents. Teens report spending a lot of time with their parents and 92% stated that their parents know where they are in the evenings.
Having shared interests, regular family mealtimes, family activities and meetings creates enjoyable time and space to chat with and listen to our teenagers. As they get get older, it is important to maintain good quality communication with them and to stay connected, interested and engaged in what’s happening in their lives.
As parents, we are the most important role models for our teens so it is important that we set a good example with our own behaviours.
Caring and Warmth
The Planet Youth survey showed us that 58% of our young people are spending 3 hours a day or more on social media. We know that too much screen time impacts upon homework and hobbies and can be detrimental to good mental health. Screen use should be kept to a maximum of 2 hours per day after homework and other activities are completed.
Screens should be off at least one hour before bed and kept out of bedrooms after bedtime.
If you can have these guidelines in place from first year they will become increasingly important as your child gets older. Talk to your child about their online life and be a good role model with your own screen use.
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The Planet Youth survey showed us that half of our young people are not getting enough sleep.
The suggested guidelines for bedtime are:
Hobbies & Sports
It is important that young people are encouraged to keep engaging in quality supervised, structured activities that interest them as they get older.
Physical activity is important for good health and wellbeing but not every child is interested in sports. Other hobbies and interests that provide opportunities to get involved in their community outside of school allow our children to further develop their social skills and build emotional resilience.
Good quality supervised and structured activities are also a known protective factor against substance use and anti-social behaviour.
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As your child gets older, they will become more and more curious about alcohol and other drugs.
The survey shows us that teenagers that are given alcohol by their parents are twice as likely to have been drunk in the last month. Daily smoking rates and monthly cannabis rates are down since the last survey. However, daily vaping rates have increased threefold to 15%.
Use of alcohol, drugs or nicotine at a young age can impair brain development and will increase the chances of developing a dependency later in life. It also increases the likelihood of other risky behaviours.
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Parental Supply of Alcohol
Teens that get alcohol from their parents are over 3.5 times more likely to have been drunk in the last month.
As well as getting alcohol from parents, nearly a third of all teenagers reported that they were doing their drinking at a friend’s house.
The evidence is clear that the best thing we can do as parents is to defer any alcohol use for as long as possible. By agreeing, as parents collectively, to not give any alcohol to other children in our homes we can make a big difference to the long-term health and wellbeing of our young people.
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Planet Youth is an innovative public health project being adopted in counties Roscommon, Mayo and Galway. Its aim is to improve the health and happiness of young people in our communities and assist them in achieving their potential.
The most recent Planet Youth Survey was conducted amongst 4,339 15-16 year olds in all of the secondary schools in Roscommon, Mayo and Galway during November 2022.