Coffee might have been perceived as an adult drink for a long time, but this is no longer true. One study by the American Academy of Pediatrics has revealed that more adolescents today are drinking coffee than they ever were before. You could blame it on coffee playing an increasing role in pop culture, but coffee drinking looks like it’s here to stay. Naturally, the question on every parent’s mind is if it’s okay for their teens to have a mug of coffee alongside their cereal. Here are a few things you should know about how coffee drinking can affect a teenager.
It Will Help Them Stay Up Through Those Long Study Nights
Teenagers aren’t as unburdened and carefree as they’re often made out to be. Between assignments, papers, exams and extra-curriculars, teenagers barely have enough time to rest. One of the reasons why adults love coffee so much, is because the caffeine in it is a very powerful stimulant. This same property can come in very useful for teenagers trying to stay up late to cram for a test. Letting your teen drink coffee when they’re studying is a far better alternative than giving them a soda. While soda is also caffeinated, the high sugar content in it will bring your teen’s energy levels crashing down very soon. Coffee on the other hand, is healthier and can even lead to better grades.
It Can Improve Their Memory
In keeping with the coffee equals good grades theory, caffeine can also act as a memory booster. According to a 2014 study by Nature Neuroscience, one cup of coffee can result in a significant improvement in memory powers. So if your teen is having trouble remembering historical dates or mathematical formulas, a large cup of strong coffee might be just what they need.
It Helps Them Develop Their Social Circle
Wouldn’t you rather have your teenager bonding with their friends over coffee than a cigarette? Adolescence is a time when teenagers must develop their self-image, something which they often depend upon their social circles for. Exploring their personalities often includes dabbling in many activities (not all which are parent-approved) in an attempt to forge a unique identity for themselves. Bonding over coffee gives teenagers a chance to have meaningful conversations with their peers, while at the same time doing something they consider very ‘adult’. Trying to seem like adults is often the reason why they sometimes experiment with alcohol and drugs. Coffee is by far the lesser of all evils that your teenager can fall victim to.
Does Coffee Cause Stunted Growth?
One of the biggest criticisms of letting teenagers drink coffee is that it hinders their growth. The argument was that caffeine leaches calcium from their bones, preventing them from growing strong and tall. However, this is not true at all. Caffeine does lead to some calcium loss, but this amount is very minimal and not enough to make a difference. In fact, if your child is drinking coffee with milk, they might actually be increasing their calcium levels.
What Are The Possible Side Effects?
If your teenager is drinking coffee in excess, then they could face some problems. Caffeine can keep them very alert, which is why it should be drunk at the right times. If they consistently drink coffee at night, their sleep cycles might be seriously affected. Poor sleep has been linked to bad performance at school and an increased risk of depression among teens. Another side effect of drinking coffee is weight gain. If your teen is drinking black coffee or coffee with just a little milk and sugar, this isn’t likely to be a problem. However, if they’re adding a ton of cream and sugar to it, they might stand a higher chance of becoming overweight. In moderation however, coffee is completely safe for teens and shouldn’t really be a concern for you.