To do in LA this Saturday: I'm speaking at the Pasadena Loves YA festival!

Angelenos! Bring your teens to the Pasadena Loves YA festival this Saturday; I'm chairing a panel on graphic novels with Mairghread Scott and Tillie Walden; other panels and events go on all day, from 11-4PM, at the Central Branch of Pasadena Public Library, 285 E Walnut St, Pasadena CA 91101. Admission is free! Read the rest

Swarm and Nexus: finishing the Zeroes trilogy with perfect form, as powered teens threaten each other -- and the world

In 2015, Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti published Zeroes, a wonderful, intricately plotted YA thriller about the discovery by a group of teens (all born in the year 2000) that they have a variety of extremely millennial supernatural powers, which grow in strength in social situations; in the years since, the authors have finished the trilogy with two more excellent volumes: 2016's Swarm, which introduces out-of-town powered teens and raises the stakes to life or death for the Zeroes' whole hometown; and 2018's Nexus, which sends the Zeroes off into conflict with the US government, and a massive army of not-exactly-but-sorta-evil powered teens who have all the crowd magic of Mardi Gras to work with, in a battle over the fate of the human race itself. Read the rest

Camping hammock an absolute must have

This Bear Butt camping hammock saved my Fourth of July. Read the rest

Teens are cyberbullying themselves as a form of self-harm

Child psychologists have observed an increasing trend in which teens cyberbully themselves, creating anonymous accounts in which they post vicious insults and slurs that seem to be directed to them by strangers. Read the rest

Teens try to guess 1990s songs and their artists

Ready to feel really old? In this React video, a group of older teens -- they all seem to have been born right around the year 2000 -- put on headphones to listen to select music from the 1990s. Their task is to guess the song's title and the artist behind it. It surprised me a little that more of them knew Los Del Rio's "Macarena" than Alanis Morissette's "Ironic." (Though, honestly, I didn't recognize all the songs either and I lived through the 90s.) Read the rest

Videocam footage of wild 1980s teen house party ending with the police showing up, as they do

(NSFW) Len Enders writes, "(On December 8, 1989), a friend and I threw a party at our house to celebrate our 19th birthday. We rented a video camera for the occasion and this is a short edit of the remaining footage from that night." (via r/ObscureMedia, thanks, UPSO!)

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What RuPaul’s Drag Race means to teens

RuPaul’s Drag Race has morphed from cult reality TV show to mainstream phenomenon, and in this great new piece for Vox, Caroline Framke explores how much the show means specifically to teenagers. As she writes:

When I went to the first DragCon, I was struck by how many of these screaming, sobbing teens — many of them the cis girl teens you might otherwise expect to fight for an autograph from a Harry Styles rather than a Naomi Smalls — swarmed the floor. I knew Drag Race was popular, but I didn’t realize how much it had traveled beyond its initial cult audience of queer men and women already ensconced in drag culture to reach this younger, hungry generation of fans.

The same held true — even more so — at 2017’s DragCon. Time and time again, I watched as kids with braces and fledgling attempts at facial contouring traded intel on which queens would be signing things where, swarmed a Teen Vogue panel (“Resistance in Trump’s America”), posed for pictures while their beaming parents stood by, and struggled to hold back rapturous tears in front of their favorite queens. When they did get the chance to actually ask a question, sure, some took the opportunity to show off their encyclopedic knowledge of which queen threw shade during which challenge, or to ask for the kind of behind-the-scenes gossip not even the infamous Drag Race subreddit might have.

But for the most part, these kids just wanted advice.

After RuPaul’s keynote (the final event of the con), one 19-year-old girl summoned the courage to go up in front of hundreds of fellow fans and ask her idol, through so many sobs we could barely understand her, “How do you wake up in the morning and tell yourself you’re beautiful?”

It was a startling moment, but one I’ve come to expect from Drag Race fans after watching, loving, and researching the show’s larger impact for years.

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Mormon official silences 12-year-old girl in church after she says she's gay

Savannah, a 12-year-old girl, is giving a speech at her Utah church but is interrupted when an official at the church cuts off her microphone and tells her to sit down. He apparently did not like the fact that she was saying that God loved all parts of her. Read the rest

Teen boy in Saudi Arabia arrested for “unethical behaviour" after flirty chat with YouTube teen girl star

A teen boy has been arrested in Saudi Arabia for “unethical behaviour,” after he did a cute internet video chat with an American YouTube starlet. Read the rest

New brand empowers teen fashion designers through creativity and business

My wife Kelly Sparks is design director at Epic Sky, a new fashion brand that's all about empowering young teen and tween girls. Rather than just trying to guess what young people want in clothes, Epic Sky is working with hypertalented teenage designers to develop the collections, and a wide network of teens and tweens to vet the products and contribute content to their site. This past Sunday, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a big spread about the company. Congrats to co-founders Monika Rose and Marian Kown, Kelly, and all the badass women at Epic Sky! From the SF Chronicle:

“We’re all about empowerment and positivity,” says Kwon. “There are a lot of media messages about girls being perfect — that they’re not smart or pretty enough, while our mission is to inspire the epic in every girl. You don’t have to have a perfect body or be the most athletic, which is the pressure a lot of middle school girls face. Snapchat and Instagram put a lot of pressure on girls, too.”

“We offer clothes that fit girls and go beyond stereotypes,” says Rose. “As a mom, I want a brand I can say yes to — clothes that are appropriate for girls’ changing bodies and don’t promote early sexualization. On the market now, you go from a one-piece Speedo to a Brazilian thong, and there’s no option in-between for these girls.” Whereas Epic Sky bikinis, designed by Sausalito 17-year-old Antje Worring, actually look like they’d be comfortable and fun to swim in, not just lie around and look glamorous...

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The NYT's tips on spooking your kids into not smoking weed

At The New York Times, Lisa Damour tackles the changing vocabulary of talking to teens about marijuana. Once good for standard-issue parental rants about drugs 'n' crime, legalization and research are making the issue more complex. You might even have to talk about the science!

Our most successful conversations might be the ones where we join our teenagers in questioning authority – that is, discussing what legalization does, and doesn’t, mean. Indeed, it’s easy to be on the right side of the law and the wrong side of science. Cigarettes and tanning beds serve as handy examples of legal ways to harm yourself. Savvy consumers are expected to look to the available evidence, not legislation, when making decisions about their own health and well-being. In terms of the science of marijuana, we know that adolescence marks a critical period of neurological development and that cannabis is harder on the developing teenage brain than on the comparatively static adult brain. Specifically, studies suggest that regular marijuana use during adolescence harms the parts of the brain responsible for learning, reasoning and paying attention.

It's an odd column, mind you: still very much in the "how to win arguments with your disobedient offspring" vein. Middle-aged, middle-class America, always on the precipice of an epiphany. Read the rest

Sensual photos of teens smoking marijuana, taken for the U.S. government in 1973

These striking shots of two young women chilling out with some herb while relaxing sur l'herbe are official federal government photographs, captured in 1973 by a photographer on assignment for the newly formed EPA.

New empowering tween girl fashion and editorial brand

Epic Sky is a new fashion brand and Web site launching today that's all about empowering young teen and tween girls! Rather than just trying to guess what young people want in clothes, Epic Sky is working with hypertalented teenage designers to develop the collections and a wide network of teens and tweens to vet the products and contribute content to the site, from DIY projects to photos to op/eds. Monika Rose and Marian Kwon founded the company last year and my wife Kelly Sparks joined in January as design director! I've never seen Kelly more energized by a brand's vision and the creativity of all the people involved, especially her teenage collaborators. Congratulations to everyone at Epic Sky! From the Epic Sky site:

We believe in supporting girls and encouraging them to share their voices. We invite girls everywhere to participate in building this platform with us; a next generation brand crafted to share girl experiences and empower girls all over the world.

Moreover, we work with teens to create the clothes they love, and invite them to have a say in what they want. We work with girl designers to develop collections that we manufacture and sell on the site. In addition, we sell on-trend fashion essentials approved by our advisory board of 50 teens + tweens.

We bring it all together here at our one-of-a-kind online destination where girls can shop, read, get inspired, and experience a community which values their stories and passions.

Epic Sky

Epic Sky bathing suit designs by Antje Worring, 17:

Meet Epic Sky jewelry designer Ellie Toole, 16:

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Teen didn't want to wake up and go to school, so he shoots his family

Yesterday a Tennessee teenager didn't want to wake up and go to school. After threatening them to no avail, the 16 year old male produced a handgun and shot his 67-year-old grandmother twice. His 6-year-old nephew and 12-year-old sister were each struck once. All three are recovering. Read the rest

Parents rent drug-sniffing dogs to search teens' bedrooms

The Last Chance K9 Service in New Albany, Indiana is just one of several companies that sells the services of drug detection dogs to parents who think their kids are hiding drugs in their room. A visit costs $99. Since opening in September of last year, owner Michel Davis says his K9 teams have searched more than 50 homes and have a 90 percent hit rate. For example, one teen had stashed his weed in a cereal box and another hid her pot pipe in an Altoids can. The dogs weren't fooled. I'm sure these cases end with big, teary, loving family hugs and the kids say nope to dope from then on. From the Courier-Journal:

Davis, who has tactical training in the detection of drugs, firearms and bombs, said the majority of his work has been focused on bigger contracts, including searches of businesses and other private contracts he said he's not at liberty to discuss.

But he said he's motivated to aid parents, adding a personal touch and pep talk because of his own experiences. He said had a tough upbringing in Louisville, experimented with marijuana and saw some of his friends progress to harder drugs. He was inspired to fight addiction in his own way after an addict seeking money in 2005 attacked his pregnant fiancee, causing her to lose the baby.

"We want to take drugs off the streets," Davis said of his team, which includes other dog handlers with military backgrounds.

"What we do is help the family fix the issue," he said.

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What's it like to be a 'Tumblr Famous' teen?

“That feeling when you hit a million followers, make more money than your mom, push a diet pill scheme, lose your blog, and turn 16.” Not something most of us can relate to, but most of us aren't Tumblr Superstar Teens. Read the rest

The FDA wants to ban use of tanning beds by youth under 18, to fight skin cancer

The Food and Drug Administration today proposed banning the use of indoor tanning beds by minors under 18 years old, to try and reduce the risk of skin cancer. Read the rest

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