"How many texts are you doing each month?" I asked my teenage patient who was sitting on the exam table texting during his annual teenage health visit. "Ten thousand", he responded.
Later in the same visit, I gave my usual micro-lecturette on health risks for teens: "There are six things that can kill teens or make them wish they were dead- alcohol, drugs, cars, sex, violence and texting." He flinched at the last one, but wasn't visibly concerned about the first five.
Parents and grandparents now routinely send text messages to teens, many alleging that the ringing or buzzing phone is never answered by the teen. When I was a teen, I wouldn't dare ignore the calls from my parents on my cell phone. In fact, cell phones weren't invented. In fact, our phone had a dial. OK, caller ID, call forwarding, answering machines and satellite/cable didn't exist either.
In those times, we barely used the telephone, unless we had a girlfriend (in my specific situation). The girls never called the boys- gentlemanly behavior dictated that decorum. We may seem way behind the times, but we made it.
When I saw the family doctor, they never mentioned alcohol, drugs, cars, sex or violence- all of which had been invented. That wasn't part of their training. Prevention was up to the parents, the churches and the schools- in that order. Hell was one of the prevention strategies frequently invoked as a deterrent to outrageous teen behaviors. Marriage was another prevention strategy that was invoked for mis-adventures of teenage sexuality. Times have changed. Teens have changed.
OK, I never saw my family doctor for prevention of anything after I was six years old. Sports physicals were done enmasse lined up for a six second heart listen and six second hernia check by one of the GP's who had a son on the team. It was free. We had no prevention guidelines for sports, health or life that physicians used. There was no money for medical care let alone prevention. DUH! There was no health insurance, only hospitalization insurance. Life was not a medical adventure, it was a physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual one.
Teens and Times have changed along with the lifestyles (a relatively new word) of Americans. I was well suited to a less electronic teen lifestyle with minimal invasion by the medical profession. Now, in the age of health insurance, I am an invasive Family Physician who speaks comfortably of alcohol, drugs, cars, sex, violence and texting to teens and their parents every day. I have a superphone, use social media and even text someone once or twice a month.