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9 Choices Articles Guaranteed to Influence Healthy Decision-Making

By
Kim Tranell

This week, we were delighted to share a guest Ideabook post from a team of researchers from the University of Chigago and the University of Texas. I encourage you to read the whole thing, but in summary, what their latest groundbreaking study found was that a traditional approach to health education—lectures, diagrams, directives—doesn't necessarily work. Teens, it seems, are far more motivated when they are given a deeper understanding of the forces at work when it comes to the decisions they make—and when educators attempt to tap into their innate drive to rise up against injustice and manipulation. (Psst: Our wonderful mood swing story in the November-December issue of Choices explains a little bit about the brain science that is priming your students to rebel in a positive way right now!)

 

Here at Choices, we were overjoyed to read about the study. We felt that our mission to present rich articles that encourage critical thinking, empowered decision-making, and responsible self-advocacy was validated—and that's exactly why we sifted through our archives to find a few of our favorite articles that embody that mission. Here, nine stories that will help you utilize a student-centered, anti-manipulation approach to health and life skills education in your classroom.

 

 

1. Are You Being Snacked to Death?

 

Knowing that junk food is bad for them is likely not enough to get teens to change their chip-munching habits, but being manipulated might. Use this story to frame the health effects of poor dietary choices—and the payoffs of healthier snacking—within the powerful forces (like marketing and corporate greed) students and their willpower are up against.

 

 

2. E-Cigarettes: Will They Kill You Too?

 

Are e-cigs just a fresh attempt to hook teens on nicotine? The format of this story explicitly prompts teens to question their own line of thinking when it comes to yet another teen-targeted, manipulatively marketed vice: vaping.

 

 

3. Are Anonymous Apps Spreading Hate?

 

By the time they reach middle school, students may be burnt out on the typical anti-bullying message. Use this piece to prompt a deeper discussion about the faceless nature of cyberbullying and the motives of the adults behind anonymous apps, which are a breeding ground for online hate. 

 

 

4. Is Pot the Next Legal Killer?

 

Marijuana's increasingly legal status in our country can be confusing for teens. This piece explores both sides of the debate, with a keen focus on evidence of the drug's health effects—and how the drug's popularity may be out-pacing our understanding of the consequences of widespread use.  

 

 

 

 

5. Scary Spice: Inside the Shadowy World of Synthetic Marijuana

 

What's even more powerful than the heartbreaking story of a teen who experienced devastating brain damage as a result of drug experimentation? Your students will be shocked to learn that criminals are literally spraying toxic chemicals on dried plants—and tricking teens into buying it.

 

 

6. Who Said It? The Truth About Gender Stereotypes

 

Who says boys can't like pink and girls can't get angry? This interactive feature will encourage teens to think critically about gender roles, and help students understand these roles as constructs of the society that we live in.

 

 

7. Should Body-Shaming Ads Be Banned?

 

While this story is a well-balanced debate that weighs the effects of harmful advertising against the dangers of government interference, it will no doubt get your students to think differently about the "ideal body" and where that preconceived notion of perfection comes from. (Ask: Why might the people behind these ads want you to feel badly about your body?)

 

 

8. Caffeine Crisis

 

Did you know that energy drink sales have grown by almost 3,000% since 2000, according to market research by Euromonitor? Your students will never look at those convenience-store fridges full of shiny, bright cans the same way again after reading all about how a massive industry is fueling a false need to feel constantly revved up.

 

 

9. The Sinister Science of Irresistible Junk Food

 

Just like #1 on the list, this piece will uncover the manipulative nature of the food industry. Here the focus is on junk food scientists—and the complex tricks they use to overcome your natural feelings of satiety and fullness. (FYI: This Choices article was based on the same book that provided the excerpt used in the research study!)

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