School is still in session in this part of the world and end of year duties are keeping me hopping. There are panicked parents of seniors (who are not worried at all that they might not earn enough credits to graduate...but should be). There are crabby students, stressed with the thought of finals and that this cold and ugly weather might last all summer (It won't.). Familiarity is breeding contempt. This is also true for the elementary school. The fever pitch which comes with the end of the year is doing its best to drag us under.
An article in Teacher Magazine about the (ab)use of energy drinks by overscheduled teens caught my eye this week. I have several students in my first period class which are happy addicts. "Monster" is their drug of choice. While I don't like that they have the need to get themselves hopped up on sugar and caffeine, I also can't argue much when I see plenty of others with their lattes or Mountain Dew. I have always assumed that energy drinks are worse in terms of the amounts of caffeine provided, but perhaps those concerns are unfounded: "Some of the drinks contain less caffeine than some brands of coffee. Red Bull and Monster — two of the most popular energy drinks on the market — each have about 80 mg per 8 ounces. A 32-ounce Big Gulp of Mountain Dew contains about 146 mg — comparable to a 16-ounce can of Monster."
As you might imagine, there are still people out there who want to ban the sale of energy drinks to teens; but how does one define the difference between an energy drink and pop/coke/soda? What is it that is actually bad about these? My hunch is that the sugar may be more of an issue than the caffeine, but I'm not sure. I do know that while the sales of juice, milk, or diet soda are okay in schools here before noon, regular soda is not. However, the amounts of sugar in some juices (or fat in whole milk...or sugar in chocolate milk) could be listed as an issue. How do we determine the characteristics of a "healthy" beverage?
What I also didn't realize was that many college age students are combining energy drinks with booze so that "they can drink longer without feeling drunk and drink more without feeling drunk." A true recipe for disaster via alcohol poisoning...and perhaps more accidents on the roads.
I suppose I need to do more to educate myself about the effects of caffeine on teens. I really don't know if there are any worthwhile studies out there. And I don't feel comfortable railing at kids about putting down the coffee, energy drinks, or Mountain Dew without trying to help them see effects other than addiction.
As for me, I'm definitely overscheduled at the moment. And listless. But I'm not willing to go the energy drink route (I rarely do the caffeine thing). It would seem that the better solution is to decrease the number of responsibilities---not amp up the brain to deal with everything in a harried way.