E-Cigs and Your Kids

There is more troubling news about “e-cigs.”

The American Heart Association says e-cigarettes should be subject to the same laws that apply to tobacco products, and that the federal government should ban the marketing and sale of e-cigs to young people,

According to a story from Health Day News, a new American Heart Association policy statement says this:  “Over the last 50 years, 20 million Americans died because of tobacco. We are fiercely committed to preventing the tobacco industry from addicting another generation of smokers.”

Nancy Brown is the CEO of the American Heart Association.  She points out that recent studies indicate that e-cigarettes may be a gateway to traditional tobacco products for young people.

Brown says “These disturbing developments have helped convince the association that e-cigarettes need to be strongly regulated, thoroughly researched and closely monitored.”

By the way, the US Centers for Disease Control says more than a quarter-million teens who never smoked before used e-cigs last year.  That’s a three-fold increase.

Those figures are troubling because nicotine is highly addictive and can be harmful to adolescent brain development.  Also three out of four teen smokers go on to become adult smokers, even if they intend to quit.
Dr. Elliot Antmann, the president of the Heart Association says “Nicotine is a dangerous and highly addictive chemical no matter what form it takes — conventional cigarettes or some other tobacco product.”


To read more about the Heart Association’s position on e-cigarettes, and to find help with kicking a tobacco habit, go to


I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Who Plays More Video Games—You or Your Kid?

So who plays more video games—you or your kid?  The answer might surprise you—mom!

Last week PBS reported that adult female gamers are now the largest game-playing group in the US—even more so than boys under the age of 18.

While men still account for the majority of the U.S. gaming population, the number of women playing games on both consoles and mobile devices is up to 48 percent.

Why the big increase in the number of female gamers?  According to reporter Charles Pulliam-Moor at PBS, it’s probably tied to smartphones.

In addition to traditional PCs and the Wii game console, women were more likely to game on their mobile devices, and were just as likely as men to play on their iPhone or iPad.

In the past, female gamers were thought to play games mainly to connect with their loved ones.

Nielsen analyst Nicole Pike says “[Many] women who previously only gamed with their families are now embracing gaming as an individual leisure activity as well,”

Simulation games like “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” and “Candy Crush Saga” make headlines for the big bucks they rake in, but the kinds of games that women are playing were found to vary widely, including endless runner games such as “Temple Run,” brain teasers such as “QuizUp” and traditional card games.

Interestingly, women spend 31 percent more money on in-app purchases and 35 percent more time within mobile games compared to men.

Also, women tend to commit themselves to a particular game and stick with it. Globally, women came back to the games that they had chosen to play 42 percent more often over a seven-day period.

If you’re a woman who spends a bit too much time and money on game apps, consider what Paul says in 1st Corinthians 6:12.  Not everything is good for you….don’t become a slave to anything.”

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Feds Cracking Down on Vicodin Addiction

The feds are worried about Vicodin addiction, and they’re cracking down.

According to the LA Times, The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is putting tighter controls on the nation’s most widely prescribed narcotic painkiller.  That’s because in recent years, the drug has led to a virtual epidemic of addiction, overdose and death.

The DEA is issuing a new rule that would place hydrocodone combinations, such as Vicodin and Norco, in the same category as other frequently abused medications like OxyContin and fentanyl.

DEA administrator Michele Leonhart says that almost 7 million Americans abuse controlled-substance prescription medications, including opioid painkillers.

Once the rule takes effect in 45 days, hydrocodone products will be considered Schedule II drugs.  That means they have accepted medical uses but also the highest potential for harm and abuse.

Patients will see new restrictions on prescriptions and refills, and pharmacies will have to follow stricter procedures for handling and storage of the drugs.

Hydrocodone products and other narcotic painkillers cause or contribute to more than 16,000 deaths annually, a death toll greater than for heroin and cocaine combined.

In fact, as a result of a surge in prescription overdoses, drug fatalities have now surpassed fatalities from motor vehicle crashes, which up until now has been the leading cause of accidental death in this country.

The Times reports the common perception is that products like Vicodin are less risky than other narcotic painkillers, and they are widely prescribed by family doctors and dentists.

But according to DEA administrator Leonhart, “these products are some of the most addictive and potentially dangerous prescription medications available.”

If you or someone you love has a problem with prescription painkiller addiction, a website that offers help is “”

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Pushing Back Morning Start Time

Now that school has started, are your teenagers complaining about having to get up so EARLY for their first class of the day? Well, America’s pediatricians may be on their side.


According to Fox News, the American Academy of Pediatrics believes that delaying the start of the school day until at least 8:30 a.m. would help teens get the sleep they need.


The lack of enough sleep has been linked with poor health, bad grades, car crashes and other problems. The pediatricians say teens are especially at risk, and that for them, “chronic sleep loss has increasingly become the norm.”


Studies have found that most U.S. students in middle school and high school don’t get the recommended amount of sleep, which is 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours on school nights. Most high school seniors get an average of less than seven hours per night.


According to government figures, more than 40 percent of the nation’s public high schools start classes before 8 a.m. And school bus pickup times typically mean kids have to get up before dawn if they want to take the bus.


So what about simply having school get out later in the day? Kristen Amundson with the National Association of State Boards of Education says that would be costly.


That’s because school buses often make multiple runs each day for older and younger students.   She adds that a later dismissal time would impact after-school sports and cut into the time allowed for homework and after-school jobs,


Uh, maybe I’m missing something here, but why not simply make your kid go to BED earlier? If you turn off all electronics at 9PM—including mobile technology, you may be amazed at how quickly your teen falls asleep!


I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Cyberbulling & How to Stop Help Stop All Bullying

This week I’ve been tackling the thorny topic of BULLYING.  In the last few years a brand-new form of bullying has cropped up—cyber-bulling.


Due to mobile technology, bullying is no longer limited to a particular space and time, such as on the playground or the school bus.  A child can be taunted or threatened anytime, anywhere…even in the middle of the night in their own bedroom!


That’s why parents need to closely monitor their child’s use of electronic communication.  Before allowing your child to have a smartphone or engage in social networking, let him know the ground rules up front.  Explain that you will be monitoring texts and posts, and that as a parent, you will do whatever is necessary to keep your kids safe and provide them with moral guidance.


On a different note, what should your child do if she witnesses another child being bullied?


As followers of Christ, we should be teaching our kids that every human being has worth and value, and that we will not stand by and allow a child to be victimized by a bully.


Paul Coughlin is one of the foremost Christian experts on bullying.  He stresses that when it comes to bullying, kids need to be encouraged to move from being “bystanders” to being “alongside-standers.”


Paul cites research that found that if just one bystander assertively tells a bully to “stop,” in many cases the bullying will often cease within 6 to 8 seconds.


There is also power in numbers.  If 2-3 kids band together and tell the bully to stop, the bullying will cease almost immediately, and often the victim will not be bullied again.


Challenge your children to join with other friends at their school and become “alongside-standers”—courageous kids who have the ability to stop bullying in its tracks.


I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

What To Do If Your Child Is Being Bullied

What should you do if you learn your child is being bullied at school?


With the new school year starting up, many parents may fear that their child will become a victim of bullying.  This week I’ve been tackling that topic, and today let’s look at what you should do if YOUR child has been bullied.


The first thing you want to do is start keeping records.  Ask your child where the bullying occurred, when it occurred, what exactly happened.  Keep a written log of what they tell you.


If you don’t, you may find yourself in a “he said/she said” situation when you report the bullying.  Sometimes a child’s memory will be fuzzy and say “I think it was on the playground” or “I think it was on Thursday.”


Because of that, it’s critical to have them report what happened that day, and document the details.


The most effective way to stop bullying is through direct adult intervention. Make an after school appointment with your child’s teacher, tell her what occurred, and enlist her help.  If you don’t receive a positive response, report the bullying to the school principal.


If the teacher or principal fail to take any action, you may need to take up the issue with school district administration or even the school board.


The good news is that most public school districts are on “heightened alert” over bullying these days.  They are very aware of the problem and want to nip it in the bud.


The US Department of Health and Human Services has a website dedicated to the topic of bullying.  You can find helpful information at


Tomorrow I’ll address cyberbullying and we’ll discuss why Christian kids should be the first to stand up when they see another child being bullied.


I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.


Red Flags of Bullying

Has your child ever been BULLIED? If so, what should you do?


This week I’m responding to some common questions that parents ask about bullying. Here’s one:


“Dr. Dr. Bill, I’ve heard that some kids won’t tell their parents or a teacher that they are being bullied.   Is that true?”


Yes, many kids won’t disclose they are being bullied because they are embarrassed or ashamed. Also, some bullies warn their victims that if they tell anyone about the bullying, they will face even worse consequences.


Because of this, it’s important for parents to be aware of certain “red flags.” Those may include unexplained physical symptoms like stomachaches or a sore throat—often these seem to materialize just before leaving for school or getting on the school bus.


Another warning sign is nightmares. Pay attention if your child is having recurring nightmares but there are no apparent stresses in their life that would explain them. It could be because they are being bullied at school.


So how can you get your child to open up and tell you what’s happening?


Kids will often share what’s going on at school while snuggling at bedtime, while on a walk with mom or dad, or even while driving in the car. If you suspect your child might be being bullied, one of the best ways to get them to confide in you is to “normalize” the experience by sharing about your own childhood.


For example you might say, “I remember when I was a kid, there was this kid in my school who used to pick on me (or pick on another child). I’m wondering if that might be happening to you.”


If your child shares that they are being bullied, it’s critical not to make them feel embarrassed or ashamed.


I’ll have more on bullying tomorrow.


I’m Dr. Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Causes of Being a Bully & Being Bullied

With school starting up again, one of the things that may on some parents’ minds is the incidence of bullying in the public schools (and even in some Christian schools!). Given that, I thought I’d respond to a few common questions about bullying.

I’m often asked “what causes a child to bully other kids?

We used to think bullies were kids who had low self-esteem. In fact, when you were growing up you might have heard a teacher say “The reason bullies pick on other kids is that they don’t feel good about themselves. Because of this, they want to make other kids feel bad.”

Interestingly, the latest research shows that in many cases, just the opposite is true. Many bullies actually have an overly inflated sense of self-esteem—in other words, they’re narcissistic. They feel so highly about themselves that they feel they have a right to do whatever they want. And oftentimes they derive pleasure out of victimizing other children.

So, are some children more likely to be victimized by a bully?

The research shows that bullies often target children with certain characteristics. They tend to pick on kids who are perceived as “different” from their peers in some way—for example a child is overweight or underweight, a child who wears glasses, who dresses in an odd way, etc.

Bullies also zero in on kids who are perceived as weak or unable to defend themselves, those who are depressed, anxious, or who have low self-esteem.

Something else parents should know—bullies will often target kids who do not get along well with others. Children who are viewed as annoying or irritating by their peers are more likely to be bullied.

I’ll have more on bullying in tomorrow’s report.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Sleep Trouble

Why do many older people have trouble sleeping? It could be due to a loss of brain cells.

New research suggests that the loss of brain cells that act as a “sleep switch” may help explain why many seniors have trouble falling and staying asleep.

In fact, in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, sleep disruption can be especially severe. It can cause nighttime confusion and lead to patients wandering off.

According to HeathDay News, scientists analyzed data from the Rush Memory and Aging Project, which includes nearly 1,000 people. These people enrolled in the project at age 65 and are being followed until they die. When they die, they’ve agreed to donate their brains to help the researchers.

The study found that elderly people and Alzheimer’s patients have a decrease in a particular type of neuron, and the loss of these brain cells is associated with sleep problems.

Senior author Clifford Saper says “On average, a person in his 70s has about one hour less sleep per night than a person in his 20s.”

Sleep loss and fragmented sleep are associated with a number of health issues, including thinking and memory problems, increased blood pressure and heart disease, and a tendency to develop type 2 diabetes,

Dr. Saper says it now appears that loss of these neurons may be contributing to these disorders as people age.

The researchers believe the findings may lead to new methods to help elderly people sleep better, and perhaps prevent further mental decline in people with Alzheimer’s.

To learn more about improving your “sleep health,” go to

I’m Dr. Bill Maier for Shine.FM.
Listen to today’s audio here.

Don’t Cuddle With Your Smart Phone

Have you ever fallen asleep while Insta-scrolling on your smartphone—or have you purposely left it on your bed during the night?

You’re not alone: 44 percent of cell phone owners have snoozed with their phone next to their bed to make sure they didn’t miss any crucial calls or texts,

But Camille Chatterjee, an editor for, found that snuggling up to your phone could be hazardous to your health. Here’s why:

First, you could set your pillow on fire. A Texas teen recently woke up to a burning smell.  It turned out that her Samsung Galaxy S4, which was under her pillow, had partially melted.  It scorched her sheets and mattress, too.

It seems that a non-Samsung replacement phone battery was to blame: the phone’s instruction manual warns that hat there’s a risk of a fire if the gadget is covered by bedding or other thick material. Bottom line: Stick to phone accessories from the original manufacturer, and don’t leave your cell on your bed.

Camille also points out that your phone could keep you awake.

Cell phones (and tablets, TVs, and other gadgets with LED screens) give off what’s known as blue light—a type of light that can inhibit the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and disrupt our circadian rhythms.

This may be because blue light emits wavelengths similar to daylight, which can make our bodies think it’s daytime.

I’ve mentioned this before—to get a good night’s sleep, power down all electronics two hours before bedtime. Better yet, keep your phone and laptop in another room while you snooze.

To read Camille’s entire article on this topic, go to

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Don’t Cuddle With Your Smart Phone