Information on Vaping

Educators: Here’s What You Need to Know About Vaping

 Last year, one in three high school seniors used a vape or e-cigarette. So says the study Monitoring the Future, released by the renowned University of Michigan, that surveyed 45,000 students from 380 public and private secondary schools. Here’s the good news: There’s probably very little smoking in the bathroom in most of our high schools. Smoking among teens has been declining for years, but it’s a safe bet that thereis vaping. Here’s what every educator needs to know:

1. Vaping and e-cigs are not the same.

Traditional e-cigarettes have a distinct cigarette taste and appeal. Far more popular with teens, vapes are small, refillable devices that heat “vape juice,”  atomizing the liquid into a mist. Neither device uses tobacco, but both can deliver nicotine. Vapes can also contain substances like THC, the chemical found in marijuana. However, vapes are often just the juice. According to one recent study, two-thirds of teens who vape use only the flavored vaping juices that contain no nicotine, marijuana, or other drugs.

2. Vaping can be hard to detect.

Vape technology has evolved quickly, making devices small and discreet. While some models are larger and look like refillable lighters with a mouthpiece, others are shaped like fountain pens. A recent story from NPR, entitled “Teenagers Embrace JUUL, Saying It’s Discreet Enough To Vape In Class,” makes it clear that vaping behavior can be easy to miss. The Juul vape looks like a thumb drive and can fit in your fist. Make sure that everyone on your staff knows what vaping devices look like.

Vape Pens

Kind of looks like your favorite pen, doesn’t it?

3. Vape manufacturers target our students.

Do you love the flavor of Skittles, or are you more of a Swedish Fish kind of person? Either way, there’s a vape juice for you. The appeal to children is clear. Vape juices come in fruit juice, candy, and breakfast-cereal-style flavors. According to a study by Dr. Adam O. Goldstein of the University of North Carolina, teens perceive that fruit-flavored substances are less harmful. In December 2017, the previously mentioned University of Michigan study reported that 51.8% of high school seniors believe that the substance they were vaping was “just flavoring.”

Vaping in school

Yes, honey-nut cereal is now a vape flavor.

4. Many teens don’t understand that vaping is harmful.

Many people, teens included, begin vaping to curb a smoking habit. Most studies uniformly show that vaping is less harmful than smoking tobacco, but the jury is still out on the long-term effects vaping can have on teenagers. Nicotine can impede brain development, and vapes can deliver a high dosage of it. Teenage vapers also report bleeding gums and what is now being a called a “vaper’s cough.” Vaping should be a topic covered in your health curriculum. This student article and worksheet from NIDA is a good place to start.

5. Marijuana is now odor-free.

Masked by sugary, fruity flavors, vape juice containing THC oil can go undetected. The University of Michigan study reports that while 1 in 10 students say they use vape juice containing nicotine, 1 in 20 teens report vaping marijuana. In other words, if a student has a vape at school, it is likely that you will have no idea what is inside the reservoir.

6. Establish a school-wide protocol on vaping.

For the most part, vaping should fall under the existing school policy on drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, but it can be complicated. A vaping device does not necessarily contain any nicotine. So it’s important to update your policy to specifically address vaping on school grounds and possession of vaping devices. Some schools move directly to suspension, but others are taking a different approach, believing that time hanging out alone at home is not a strong solution for students caught with a vaping device at school. Completion of a drug and alcohol prevention course is another possible consequence; many schools are seeing good results when they use this method.

Join our Facebook group Principal Life for more conversation about and insights into the challenges of school leadership


Negative Impact of Snapchat

Snapchat is ranked as the second worst social media platform for teen mental health. In this video, learn the negative effects of Snapchat for teens and tweens.


Teen Snapchat statistics

  • People under the age of 25 use Snapchat for 40 minutes on average every day, more than Instagram’s latest stat for the same demographic
  • Snapchat ranks as the most popular social media site among teenagers
  • Users 25 and younger visit Snapchat over 20 times per day

Teen social media statistics

  • 91% of 16-24 year olds use the internet for social networking
  • Social media use is linked with increased rates of anxiety, depression and poor sleep
  • Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol

What is a Streak?

  • A Streak is given to users who have sent each other Snaps consistently for two days or more
  • A fire emoji will appear next to a friend’s name along with a number. The number indicates how many days you have consistently messaged that user back and forth

Snapchat can be addictive for teens

According to ABC News:

  • Snapchat has mechanisms in place to incentivize teens to become daily users with a phenomenon called the Streak
  • Experts say Streaks can create a concerning hierarchy of friendship that can leave some teens afraid to disappoint others if they drop a Streak
  • “The more you cannot leave one day without being on social media, the more your identity gets wrapped up in it [and] the more likely it’s going to have negative effects,” an expert warned

According to Business Insider:

  • Snapchat Streaks have become the most important metric in social media for teens
  • Because teens invest so much time in their Streaks, it’s common to ask friends to “Streak” for you if you’re unable to log on — for example, if you got your phone taken away
  • “One of my friends actually called me while I was sleeping to make sure our Streak would still be going,” a student said. “He called me four times and woke me up to keep the Streak alive. He was like, ‘Are we still Streaking?’”
  • “A big part of [Snapchat Streaks] is social acceptance,” a 15-year-old student admitted. “Having more streaks makes you feel more popular”

According to Psychology Today:

  • It is not uncommon to hear a tween bragging about the number of streaks they have going as well as about the length of each of these streaks. The longer the streak, the higher it’s perceived value
  • It is not uncommon to find a 12-year-old user who set up a Snapchat account (without their parents knowing). Streaks may really matter to your tween. Suddenly asking your tween to stop keeping up their Streaks could really stress them out

“Snap Map” lets people locate your teen

  • This feature lets teens “pinch to zoom” on their story page and view the map where their friends are posting from
  • Predators and scammers use geolocation to know where your kids are at (and when you’re not home, for a possible robbery)

Teens share their Snapchat usernames with strangers

  • Many teens add their Snapchat username into their Instagram bio which can be very dangerous
  • Even if an Instagram profile is private, anyone can see what is in the bio. This makes it easy for strangers to follow along on someone’s Snapchat profile

Teens share their Snapchat passwords with friends

  • In order to maintain a Streak, teens and tweens will share their Snapchat login credentials with friends
  • Friends with your password can make inappropriate posts on your account that can negatively affect your future in a big way

Potential negative effects of Snapchat & social media

Anxiety & depression: Research suggests that young people who spend more than 2 hours per day on social media are more likely to report poor mental health, including psychological distress (symptoms of anxiety and depression).

Sleep: Numerous studies have shown that increased social media use has a significant association with poor sleep quality in young people. Using phones, laptops, and tablets at night before bed is also linked with poor quality sleep.

Body image: Body image is an issue for many young people, both male and female. Studies have shown that when women in their teens and early twenties view Facebook for only a short period of time, body image concerns are higher compared to non-users.

Cyberbullying: Bullying during childhood is a major risk factor for a number of issues including mental health, education and social relationships, with long-lasting effects often carried right through to adulthood.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): FOMO has been robustly linked to higher levels of social media engagement, meaning that the more an individual uses social media, the more likely they are to experience FOMO.

What parents say about Snapchat

New Snapchat Discover Stories regularly have sexually explicit images and articles — not for kids! We decided to let our oldest daughter (13 at the time) have the popular app, Snapchat a year or so ago in the context of sending fun filtered videos and pictures to her trusted friends. However, the app has gone through many revisions since we first allowed it. It now has Discover Stories with pictures and links to articles which appear front and center when you open the app. For the past week or so, I have tried to look at these every day to see what these articles are promoting. Many have steamy almost nude graphics which are visible before snapchatters click through. This is the norm, not the exception. And the article names are often sexually explicit — “Celebs tell stories of how they lost their virginity,” “4 Emojis for Steamy Sexting,” “A Guide to Lady Parts for Guys,” and more. One this past week was about orgies…. These explicit, often trashy articles and pictures have been present every single day I have looked. The app says it is appropriate for kids ages 12+ but in my opinion as a parent, this is definitely not the case! If you are considering for your tween/ teen, I recommend opening an account first for yourself and monitoring the articles for a week or so. Then decide what you feel is appropriate for you family.

What can parents do?

  • Become a Snapchat expert in our Parent University program so you can be involved with your student on the app and keep them safe
  • Know your child’s username, follow them, get involved, have discussion, and monitor their Snaps
  • If your student can easily navigate the new update, make them the expert and have them teach you more about the app
  • Have your student watch our Parent University videos that will show them that anything they post on social media (including Snapchat) has the ability to last forever
  • Demonstrate the ways that negative posts can come back to hurt their reputation in the future
  • Remind your teen that it’s okay to be silly and have fun on social media as long as they are positive (with a little bit of gratitude)

This blog was re-posted from Josh Ochs’ article on Smart Social. You can access it here: