• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • YouTube

Archives for April 2016

Rawhide Guy Overcomes Childhood Trauma

Imagine if your father woke you up for school each morning with a punch in the face, and then laughed about it with his “buddies.” As hard as it is to imagine, that’s what happened on a regular basis to Alan Phillips in grade school. When he got to junior high, he started using classmates as punching bags, repeating the pattern of his childhood trauma. Garbage in, garbage out.

A Step in Breaking the Cycle of Childhood Trauma

While using his fists to solve school conflicts, Alan injured one fellow junior high student and was sent to a group home. He ran away after 2 ½ weeks. Police apprehended Alan in a town 60 miles away, and the court subsequently sent him to a mental health facility.

His social worker visited Alan one day, carrying a video of a place called Rawhide Boys Ranch. Alan had never heard of it but the video got his attention when Bart Starr entered the scene.

“I was such a fan of football and Bart Starr that I wanted to go to Rawhide right there on the spot. I went to court and the judge sent me to…Rawhide.”

Here’s a video similar to what Alan saw:

Repeating Patterns

As with recovery of any sort, the path is rarely a straight line. Likewise for Alan. Because of his toxic home environment, he had an issue with authority. As you can imagine, Alan ran into trouble at the ranch when his houseparents laid out some house rules. Alan didn’t want anyone to tell him what to do, and 2 weeks after he arrived there, he ran away…again.

“Should I Go, or Should I Stay?”

As fate would have it, that night was cold, snowy, and blustery. Clad in merely a wind breaker and tennis shoes—Alan was ill-equipped to meet the cold Wisconsin winter night head on.

childhood trauma healed

Also as fate would have it, a Rawhide youth care worker happened to be driving down that dark country road when he saw Alan. By this time, he was freezing and welcomed a ride. The Rawhide employee took Alan back to his house, made him some hot chocolate to warm his insides and asked:

“Do you want to keep walking or go back to Rawhide?”

Alan sipped the warm drink and replied, “Go back to Rawhide.”

When they called John Gillespie, Rawhide Founder and houseparent, John informed Alan that he was welcome to return and the consequence for running away would be to haul cinder blocks. “NO,” Alan said emphatically, perhaps sounding like a 2-year-old petulant child.  John sent him home. End of discussion.

After a few months back in his family home, Alan realized he wasn’t having much success trying to improve on his own. So he called John and asked once again to return to Rawhide. John’s reply: “You can come back here, but I have one stipulation. You have to haul cinder blocks.”

Hauling heavy cinder blocks no longer sounded so bad to Alan after trying to change on his own without success. Alan returned to Rawhide and stayed for eight months.

Dealing with Unstructured Time

By Alan’s own admission, it was easier to toe the line when he had projects or jobs to do like cleaning the barns or chopping wood. He said he always had a good work ethic, so working kept him out of trouble. However, the unstructured time or “downtime” challenged Alan. “That’s when I got into trouble,” he said, “because I’d always want to be doing something.”

Alan eventually learned how to simply enjoy the company of other people without a structured event or activity. He learned how to break the cycle of his childhood trauma. He thanks Rawhide for teaching him how to socially interact with other people in a healthy way.

Alan Shares His Story at Rawhide’s Chalk Talk

In November 2015, Alan shared his story at Rawhide’s Chalk Talk event with Brett Favre. Nearly 1,500 people packed Green Bay’s KI convention center to spend Thanksgiving with Brett Favre. This was the 3rd annual Chalk Talk fundraiser for Rawhide and the largest by far.

Alan’s Life Now

Alan expressed gratitude for how Rawhide helped him heal and overcome childhood trauma he experienced as a child. As a result, he has been married over 30 years, has kids and grandkids. He learned how to be a good parent to his own kids and how to create a healthy family. In fact, Al smiled as he shared how his kids still call him when they need to talk or have a problem to work out. He clearly loves it.

 “I Would Do Anything for the Gillespies”

When asked if he had any words for John and Jan Gillespie, he choked back the tears as he expressed his heartfelt gratitude:

“I told John yesterday, I would do anything for him. Anything. No matter what.”

Alan also said he will forever be a Packer fan because of Bart and Cherry Starr. Bart’s integrity is the “most awesome thing ever.”

Passing on Words of Wisdom

Alan has some advice for new Rawhide guys and stresses that they are lucky to have this chance to change their lives.

“Keep an open mind and listen. Take your I’m-better-than-everyone-else attitude and leave it at the door. Pay attention to those around you at Rawhide. They’ll teach you how to grow up.”

He believes that once a guy learns how to be humble, he is more apt to listen and learn for what is needed in his life. We couldn’t agree more, Al.

Ways to Give

If you would like to help troubled youth heal from childhood trauma like Alan, there are various ways to give.

Every charitable contribution gives troubled youth and families a second chance. Thank you for thinking of Rawhide.



Body Image Issues: The Teen Male Edition [INFOGRAPHIC]

Females have been fed a steady diet of perfect body images in the media for years. Unrealistic female physiques have been splashed across billboards and fashion magazine covers for decades. Even dolls sported impossible proportions that caused young women to loathe their own appearance and develop eating disorders. Teen males have not been linked to this issue…until now.

The number of teen males dissatisfied with their bodies has tripled over the last 25 years and many even have distorted perceptions of their appearance—a condition known as body dysmorphic disorder. Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a mental illness where an individual focuses obsessively on self-perceived physical flaws.

(Click to enlarge graphic)

Body Image Issues: The Teen Male Edition INFOGRAPHIC

Click to Tweet Click to Tweet Infographic!

Share this Image On Your Site

Body Image Issues: The Teen Male Edition

While women have been the focus of the perfect body type for years, the recent shift in media placing focus on the male body type is creating very similar problems. Unattainable physique has created unrealistic expectations, anxiety, mental health issues, and eating disorders for women, but now, it’s the male’s turn.

The rate of males dissatisfied with their bodies has tripled over the last 25 years. This has created sky high rates of body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, a mental illness that causes an individual to place obsessive focus on what they perceive to be appearance flaws.

This obsession can lead to steroid abuse and eating disorders.

  • Some male teens say they’d trade years of their lives for the perfect male physique.
  • BDD can cause males to turn to steroids or develop eating disorders in an attempt to gain the perfect body.
  • Male teens extremely concerned about weight are more depressed and more likely to binge drink or use drugs.
  • Male body issues often go unnoticed because males are often thought to be secure with their bodies. More often, this is not the case.

Teen Males Increasingly Unhappy with Looks

45% of the teen male population is unhappy with their image compared to 15% in the early 1990s. Dissatisfaction centers on overall appearance:

Body Image Issues by Gender

Both teen males and girls experience angst over their appearance, yet the disorder manifests differently by gender. So does the area of concern.

Teenage girls tend to internalize negative messages and obsess about weight loss to obtain a thin appearance. While girls are more open than guys about dieting, if their weight loss method includes an eating disorder, they go to great lengths to hide it. And no matter how thin they get, they see an overweight person in the mirror.

Teenage boys strive for a muscular physique. They may engage in extreme exercise, especially weight training many hours per day. Teen boys rarely admit they are unhappy with their physiques and will still hold distorted images of themselves even if they look fine to others.  Indiana University of Pennsylvania found 1 in 5 teen males considered by their peers to be “in shape” still admitted being uncomfortable taking their shirts off in front of others.

The Teen Male Muscular Ideal

Teenage boy’s body image issues predominately lie in three areas.

  • 50% of teen boys are worried about gaining muscle      Click to Tweet!
  • 33% of teen boys are worried about thinness and muscularity simultaneously      Click to Tweet!
  • 15% of teen boys are concerned only with thinness      Click to Tweet!

90% of teen boys who exercise do so with the sole goal of adding mass and building muscle.       Click to Tweet!

Dr. Alison Field summarized the current focus of the male physique: “There are some males who do want to be thinner and are focused on thinness, but many more are focused on wanting bigger, or at least more toned and defined, muscles.”

Muscle Dysmorphia Growing Among Male Teens

Muscle dysmorphia is a pathological obsession with muscle building and extreme focus on food choices. It is also called “bigorexia” or “reverse anorexia.” This condition leads to a fixation on gaining body mass.

  • 25% of teen males at a normal weight believe they’re underweight      Click to Tweet!

Teen males suffering from muscle dysmorphia put their lives on hold to exclusively develop their “perfect body.” This leads to countless hours in the gym, spending large amounts of money on supplements, and unusual eating patterns.

Teens Go to Extremes to Achieve Ideal Body

Teen boys who feel unable to achieve an already unattainable physique may use extreme measures such as steroids or supplements.

Over 50% of males with muscle dysmorphia abuse steroids. Steroids and supplements are attractive to teen boys when they fail to build an unobtainable physique.

  • 10.5% of male high school students acknowledged using muscle-enhancing substances
  • 6% of male high school students have taken steroids without a doctor’s prescription

Injectable steroids are a dangerous way to enhance muscle, along with “natural” protein powders and supplements as well. Many protein powders and supplements are unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They may contain unhealthy ingredients and may cause unappealing side effects.

Many Would Make the Ultimate Trade-Off

Some teen males would make a huge sacrifice for a perfect body.

  • 38% would sacrifice at least a year of their life for a perfect body      Click to Tweet!
  • 5.3% would sacrifice a decade of their life, or more, for a perfect body      Click to Tweet!

The lengths at which males are willing to go to reach their “ideal” surprised Dr. Alison Field:

“You want people to be concerned enough about their weight to make healthy decisions, but not so concerned that they’re willing to take whatever means it takes, healthy or unhealthy, to achieve their desired physique.”

Eating Disorders on the Rise with Male Teens

Adding muscle bulk is not the only body issue concerning young males. Male eating disorders are rising as they grow more obsessed about having a lean body.

31% of male teens reported binge eating, purging, or overeating. Additionally:

  • 17% of teen males are on extreme diets
  • 4% of high school males went without food for more than 24 hours straight in the past month
  • 2%  of teen males intentionally vomited or took laxatives to lose weight or prevent weight gain

Eating disorders can turn fatal. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders at 20%. Bulimia can lead to suicide.

Unfortunately, only 10% of individuals with an eating disorder receive treatment. Eating disorders come with a strong feeling of shame, often preventing open conversations. Two commonly believed fallacies prevent men from seeking help for eating disorders:

  1. Males are more secure with their bodies, no matter their size
  2. Eating disorders are a “woman’s disease”

Top Causes of Teen Male Body Image Issues


A joint study by Today & AOL found:


The pressure to fit in as a teenager also causes male body image issues. Teen males reach physical maturation at different rates. Seeing friends or classmates increase strength and muscle mass can cause insecurities or self-consciousness for those who haven’t reached physical maturation. Additionally:

  • 58.6% of teen males said talking about their bodies makes them feel self-conscious      Click to Tweet!
  • 25% of boys reported being teased about their weight      Click to Tweet!


Simple toys like action figures create insecurities in certain teen males as well. These dolls feature chiseled abdominal muscles and nearly impossible pectoral muscles. Only 1 to 2% of the male population is capable of developing the body type of today’s action figures.

Click to Tweet Body Image Issues Click to Tweet!


Movies and magazines have also begun displaying more bare-chested men, six-pack abs, and chiseled physiques. The movie 300 may come to mind, or even the scene in Captain America where Steve Rodgers, a scrawny, thin male character, enters experimental treatment and leaves as a buff hero. This gives teens the impression that the only true heroes are the people bigger and stronger than everyone else.

Dr. Raymond Lemberg summed up the media’s added focus on strength and the male body:

“The media has become more of an equal opportunity discriminator. Men’s bodies are not good enough anymore either.”

Body Image Is Closely Linked to Self-Esteem

Negative body image often brings low self-esteem, but other issues also appear. Negative body image may cause:

Warning Signs

Males seek treatment less often for eating disorders because of the perception that they’re suffering from a “woman’s disease.” However, it doesn’t mean they don’t experience body image issues, anxiety, and stress about their appearance.

Dr. Alison Field said: “Pediatricians and adolescent medicine doctors and parents need to become aware that they should be listening as much to their sons’ conversations about weight as their daughters.”

Teen males may display these warning signs:

  • Chronically Comparing – Individuals struggling with poor body image often compare their body with others. They may compare to people they know, strangers, celebrities, or models. Comparing often involves specific body parts or certain characteristics and leads to even greater dissatisfaction.
  • Unable to Receive Compliments or Praise – Teens with body image issues may quickly deflect compliments or have strong suspicion of one’s motives when complimented.
  • Hypersensitive Interactions with Others – Low self-esteem may cause constant questioning of how others act and what others say. Many motives, behaviors, gestures, or words can be misconstrued as negative.
  • Inability to Enjoy the Present – Focus on anything else if the mind is solely focused on body image is difficult. Living in the moment also becomes difficult, and persistent fears of perceived flaws invade the brain.
  • Compartmentalizing Body into Parts – Rather than feeling wholly connected, focus falls on specific body parts, leading male teens to spend hours building one specific body area.
  • Unnatural Associations Eating food may be linked with feelings of guilt, shame, or blame.

How Parents Can Help

If you are worried your teen might suffer from body image issues and insecurities, consider these approaches:

  1. Be a Good Role Model: Watch how you speak about your own appearance. If you are outwardly critical of your own body, your teen will apply that negative view to his or her body.
  2. Educate on Media Manipulation: Teach your teen that the media constantly portrays unrealistic images of men and women. They are Photo-shopped to create perfect skin and physiques, implying that only this perfect standard is acceptable. It’s not real.
  3. Nurture Personality and Interests: Help your teen shift their focus from perceived physical flaws to their interests or talents. If they like art, find them an art class. Or tennis lessons if they show an interest. This will nurture their inner qualities and build self-esteem.
  4. Compliment Deeper Qualities: Praise a kind heart, giving nature, sharp brain, etc.
  5. Listen Without Judging: Listen to how they feel without trying to argue them out of feeling that way. Praise their inner qualities.
  6. Provide Healthy Role Models: Look for role models in child’s interest areas such as art, music, or sports.
  7. Get Outside Help: If you notice irrational beliefs in your teen, seek the help of a trained medical professional.

While we’re all familiar with the body image pressures the media places on girls, males experience body image issues as well. Media portrayals of the ideal body, peer pressure, and an obsession with size and bulk create body image issues. Teen males will try extreme methods to obtain an ideal physique. Recognizing a teen might be experiencing body image issues can prevent future issues and help them grow and become more comfortable and confident with the own unique and incredible person they are.

101 Tips for Preparing Your Boat for Spring

When sunshine starts dancing on the lake, boaters will be eager for some warm-weather fun. Before your boat hits the water though, ensure your boat is ready. Preparing your boat for spring ensures proper performance and safety. These 101 tips for preparing your boat for spring will give you peace of mind and get you on the water in no time.

General Tips for Preparing Your Boat for Spring

  1. Check that the boat registration is current and onboard. You need to have this available if a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officer asks to see it.
  2. Clean the hull with a marine-safe cleanser. Avoid using dish soap as it may remove wax.
  3. After cleaning the hull, apply a coat of wax to protect the finish.
  4. Clean windows and hatches to ensure unobstructed visibility.
  5. Inspect wiper blades and replace if necessary.
  6. Check that drains and scuppers are clear. Clean as needed so that water can properly drain off instead of pooling in your boat.
  7. Clean and polish metal with a good metal polish.
  8. Invest in boat towing insurance. You’ll be glad you did if an emergency arises.

Inspecting Your Boat’s Electrical System and Components

  1. Check the boat’s battery. Recharge as needed.
  2. Inspect battery terminals for corrosion. If battery terminals appear corroded, clean.
  3. Check the water level of the boat’s battery. If water level is low, add distilled water to maintain battery’s performance. Tap water will diminish performance.
  4. Check that the boats bonding system is functioning. The bonding system is used to connect a boat’s underwater metals such as through-hull fittings and rudders.

  1. Inspect all wiring for wear and fraying. All wires should be intact and secure.
  2. Test all gauges for proper function.
  3. Check the boat’s  shore power system and make sure the charger is working. This will save fuel consumption while idling.

  1. Add spare fuses to the boat’s storage compartment in case a fuse burns out.
  2. Test all lighting fixtures and replace burned out bulbs. Store spare bulbs on your boat.
  3. Make sure that antennas are secure.
  4. Inspect the outer jacket of the throttle, shift, and steering control cables for cracks or swells. These may mean internal corrosion and failure.
  5. Check functionality of all other electronics on the boat such as fish finders and radios.
  6. Apply corrosion-inhibitor product to all metal connections. Some products also work as a lubricant to loosen rusted parts.

Hull Inspection

101 Tips for Preparing Your Boat for Spring Blistered Hull

  1. Examine the hull for stress cracks in the fiberglass.
  2. Check the hull for blistering. An occasional blister is not a serious problem, however many large blisters threaten the integrity of the hull. Repair immediately.
  3. Inspect the rudder and fittings for rust, corrosion, bearing debris, and excessive play.
  4. Check and replace zinc anodes if necessary. Zincs guard against galvanic corrosion that can quickly destroy underwater metals like your rudder or outboard.

  1. Check that rub rails are secure and that there are no leaks underneath it.
  2. Inspect that the shaft, cutlass bearing, strut and prop are in working condition.
  3. If applicable, check the swim platform and/or ladder for any damage or loose connections.
  4. Inspect and test trim tabs.

  1. Touch up or replace any antifouling paint to slow the growth of underwater organisms that attach to hulls. A buildup of organisms can decrease the boat’s performance.

Check Below the Decks

  1. Inspect and lubricate seacocks—valves in a boat’s hull below or near the waterline that permits water flow into the boat for various purposes like a sink. Once inspected and lubricated, test.
  2. Make sure hoses and clamps are in working condition.
  3. Waterline hoses should be double clamped. Check that this is so.
  4. Check limber holes and make sure they are clear of debris and functioning correctly.

101 Tips for Preparing Your Boat for Spring Limber Holes

  1. Bilge pumps should be inspected for proper automatic and manual operation.
  2. Inspect the bilges to make sure no oil leaked in during the offseason.

Inspect Inboard Engines

  1. Before firing up the engine, change oil and oil filters. Be sure to carry spare oil and filters onboard.
  2. Inspect the fuel filter and change if dirty. It’s always wise to carry an extra fuel filter.
  3. Take a look at the cooling system. If coolant is discolored, change it. Always have extra coolant onboard.
  4. Check for discoloration in transmission fluid. If transmission fluid appears discolored, it’s time to change it for new fluid.
  5. Check all belts for tension, fraying, and wear. Also check that all belts are aligned properly and that no belts are slipping.
  6. Check and clean backfire flame arrestor These prevent gasoline vapors from igniting if your engine backfires. Each carburetor needs one.
  7. Check impeller to make sure fluid is being transferred evenly through the engine.
  8. Inspect and clean your boat’s raw water strainer to prevent marine growth.

  1. Check that the bilge blower is properly ventilating gasses.

Checking the Outboard Motor

  1. Check that spark plugs hold a spark. Replace spark plugs if necessary.
  2. Inspect, change, and fill gear lube if necessary.
  3. Check your fuel lines, primer bulb, and fuel tank for leaks.
  4. Lubricate and spray moveable parts to protect from wear and damage.
  5. Inspect the propeller for damage or warping. Fix if necessary.

Examine Mast and Rigging (If Applicable)

101 Tips for Preparing Your Boat for Spring Boat Spreaders

  1. Check mast and spreaders for corrosion or damage.
  2. Inspect that spreader boots and shrouds are in working condition to prevent damage to sails.
  3. Examine rivets and screw connections to be sure no corrosion occurred.
  4. Clean sail track to ensure proper function.
  5. Check rigging, turnbuckles, and clevis pins for wear and corrosion. Regular inspection can prevent later damage from corrosion.
  6. Inspect all stays for fraying or other damage.
  7. Check that reefing points and reefing gear are functioning for proper sail functions.
  8. Check the sail’s forestay and backstay connections to ensure it is properly connected.
  9. Inspect that masthead fitting and pulleys are functioning appropriately for proper furling and unfurling.
  10. Check and lubricate roller furling system so sails can successfully furl and unfurl.

  1. Check halyards for damage or frays and consider replacing if damaged or frayed.
  2. Apply tape to your turnbuckles, cotter pins, and spreaders to prevent any snags or damage to sails.
  3. Lubricate the stuffing boxes, shaft and rudder logs to ensure proper movement.
  4. Empty and consider replacing water separator filters to allow better fuel efficiency.
  5. Shock the drinking water tank if applicable. Pool shock is recommended as it breaks down in a few days and then can be flushed out.

Check Deck, Fittings, and Safety Equipment

  1. Examine that ground tackle, lines, fenders, and other docking equipment are in working condition to prevent any mishaps when docking the boat.
  2. Check that chainplates and cleats are secure to ensure safe docking.
  3. Inspect deck for leaks and check that all windows and port lights are properly secure to prevent any water coming where it shouldn’t.
  4. Inspect anchor windlass and lubricate moving parts on the mechanism if necessary to allow for proper anchoring.
  5. Clean and grease winches for effective and efficient use.
  6. Examine that blocks and pad eyes are secure to the boat to prevent anything tied to them from ripping them out.
  7. If applicable, check stanchion, pulpits and lifelines. Ensure that they will remain in place, especially under human weight.
  8. If applicable, inspect that dinghy and/or life raft are in working condition. It’s wise to know emergency vessels will work if needed.

Inspect the Sails (If applicable)

  1. Inspect the sails for wear, chafing, and any other damage. If sails are damaged, replace to prevent issues on the water.
  2. Examine that battens and batten pockets are properly maintained to retain proper sail shape.
  3. Check all sail attachments to ensure your sail won’t create problems unfurling, furling, or when the wind picks up.
  4. Inspect the bolt rope for fraying or weakness. If frayed or weak, replace to prevent problems when you’re in the middle of the water.

Other Required and Recommended Equipment

  1. Check all distress signals on the boat, including the expiration dates. Emergency flares may not work if they’ve been sitting for a long while or if they were improperly stored. Buy new distress signals if there’s a chance the ones on hand might now work.
  2. Carry enough life jackets and personal flotation devices for passengers. Make sure every passenger has access to an appropriate life jacket.

  1. Ensure that all boat cushions are in good condition. They may also be used as flotation devices.
  2. Check that fire extinguishers are up to date and recharge if necessary.
  3. Check and adjust compass so it gives accurate bearing.
  4. Inspect navigation lights for malfunctions and adjust as needed.
  5. Check that nautical charts and maps are up to date and replace if necessary. Surprises aren’t always great when you’re in the middle of the water.
  6. Ensure that the radar reflector is functioning properly. This ensures that your boat shows up on other radars.
  7. Check that first aid supplies are up to date and replace if expired or if supplies are running short.
  8. Check that the bailer has no cracks and that the hand pump is in working condition. You will be glad you did in case of leak.
  9. Consider stocking potatoes on board. They can be used as an emergency food source and an emergency plug if a leak arises.
  10. Epoxy sticks can be kept on board as emergency fix-it adhesives if something breaks or needs to be put back together.
  11. Extra-Large garbage bags are a valuable item to have on board as they may be used as emergency ponchos or to help seal a leak.
  12. Keep duct tape on board. Duct tape is a versatile fix-it that helps in a variety of ways if something breaks.
  13. Include white vinegar as a staple on board. White vinegar is handy for curing itches if you encounter pesky mosquitos, or if you meet a jellyfish.
  14. Wax candles are a great addition on a boat because they can help lubricate jammed zippers, broken snaps, or anything with moving parts that might be stuck.

And Now for the Trailer…

  1. Check that the trailer’s rollers are in good, working condition so that guiding the boat back onto the trailer goes smoothly when you’re done for the day.
  2. Check that your trailer’s turn signals work. It’d be a shame to get pulled over before you start boating.
  3. Inspect the brake lights on your trailer so drivers know when you’re slowing down or stopping.
  4. Check that the straps and chains are in working condition and will be able to hold your boat in place.
  5. Apply lubrication to your winch if it is stiff. Proper lubrication allows for your winch to haul and secure your boat easier.
  6. Look at the latch on your coupler and make sure it is still working. A broken latch may cause the trailer to escape.
  7. Inspect wheel bearings and repack them with grease if necessary. Poor wheel bearings can create uneven wear for trailer tires.
  8. Check that your registration on your trailer is current. Many states require up-to-date registration for trailers.

Finished Preparing Your Boat for Spring?

Preparing your boat for spring may be painstaking, but having peace of mind while you’re on the water all season lets you enjoy the summer. If you’re looking to find a boat, check out Rawhide’s eBay selection. We have many boats up for auction that can fill your life with happy boating.

Rawhide eBay Preparing your boat for spring

The Digital Diet of the American Teen [Infographic]

Teens are now spending more time consuming digital media than sleeping. Yep, you read that right. Digital media consumption, aka digital diet, is now the most time-consuming teen activity—above all else.

Digital media is any digitized content that can be transmitted electronically via the Internet, cable or computer networks. This content includes TV programs, movies, videos, music, text messaging, gaming, social media, websites, newspapers, novels, and more. Technological advances provide more devices to access that content, namely smartphones, tablets, computers, TVs, and MP3 players.

Most parents aren’t aware of how much time their teens spend consuming a digital diet nor the intake quality. As digital media consumption increases, teens lose focus more easily, sleep less, and exercise very little.

(click to enlarge graphic)

Digital Diet of the American Teen Infographic

Digital Diet Click to TweetClick to Tweet Infographic!

Share this Image On Your Site

The Digital Diet of the American Teen

Teens now spend 9 hours daily consuming digital content—a growth of 300% since 1995. Parents are aware their teens are going online, but are unaware of just how much time they spend. Many parents believe their teen spends only 3 hours per day, a third of the time teens actually dedicated to consuming digital media.

How does that digital diet fit in with other activities such as sleeping and homework? Digital consumption actually takes up more time than both of those as well. Also, teens use multiple devices such as smartphones, laptops, and TVs, to access different platforms such as social media, online videos, and video games.

Teens and Screens

Teens have increased their daily screen time by 300% since 1995.
Digital Diet Click to TweetClick to Tweet!

  • 7.5 hours of screen time in 2015
  • 6 hours of screen time in 2005
  • 2.5 hours of screen time in 1995

In 1995, almost all teen screen time involved watching television. 60% of teens talked on the phone daily, and 64% of teens hung out with friends at the mall or other locations at least twice a week. Around 11% of teens were overweight.

By 2005, technology advanced, and screen time grew. Teens were spending an average of 6 hours a day consuming digital media, more than any other activity. Interest in hobbies decreased, as did physical activity, and time spent with friends. The teenage obesity rate grew to 16%.

In 2015, teens averaged 7.5 hours of screen time every day. 71% of teens have a television in their bedroom and watch up to 3 hours of TV a day. The other time spent is on the phone as the average teen sends 60 texts a day and uses their smart phone to consume their sizable digital diet. A shocking 28% of teens are also overweight.

Putting It Into Context


Common Sense Media reports that teens now spend more time consuming a digital diet such as watching television, listening to music, interacting on social media, playing video games, etc. than sleeping.

On a daily basis, teens spend:

  • 9 hours consuming digital media (7.5 hours directly in front of a screen. The remaining time is listening to music.)          Click to Tweet!
  • 7 hours sleeping
  • 8 hours on education
  • 0.7 hours on physical activities

Those nine hours of digital media consumption adds up to 63 hrs/wk and 3,276 hrs/yr, equaling 136.5 days/yr! This doesn’t include homework or online school lessons!

YET…Parents think their children only spend about 3 hours online each day.

Mobile Devices Reign for Teen Media Consumption

91% of American teens access the internet through a mobile device. Smartphones account for 46% of all screen time:

Teens use their smartphones to visit their favorite social media sites, listen to music, and communicate with peers. It’s a one-stop shop for their digital diet. 43% of teens also use smartphones for online video consumption.

Digital Diet Time Spent Per Device

TV & Music Top the Charts of Teen Digital Diet

While teens clearly consume a variety of digital content ranging from online videos to gaming, they still favor watching TV and listening to music as their parent’s generation did. However, they have more options for accessing that content than their parents ever dreamed of having.

  • 66% of teens listen to music every day
  • 58% of teens watch TV every day
  • 45% of teens use social media every day

While some teens state they don’t listen to music, watch TV, or use social media every day, many admit they still consume these forms of digital media “a lot.”

  • 73% of teens listen to music “a lot”
  • 45% of teens watch TV “a lot”
  • 36% of teens use social media “a lot”

Teens Log On Frequently

Almost every teen goes online daily.

  • 92% of teens said they go online daily using some device      Click to Tweet!
  • 24% of teens admit to being online “almost constantly” regardless of device       Click to Tweet!


  • 56% of teens go online several times a day
  • 12% of teens go online once a day

Mobile devices account for the increase in teen Internet activity. 94% of teens use mobile devices instead of a computer to go online daily. Even 68% of teens without smartphones still find a way to go online daily.

Teens Expand Social Media Tastes

With more social media options sprouting up, teens’ digital-diet taste buds expand as well. 71% of teens use more than one social network site. Facebook remains the most popular site with teens, but Instagram and Snapchat are growing in popularity:

  • 71% use Facebook
  • 52% use Instagram
  • 41% use Snapchat
  • 33% use Twitter
  • 33% use Google Plus
  • 24% use Vine
  • 22% use Pinterest

Channel Preference Varies by Gender

Social media preference is often split between genders.

  • 44% of teen girls say they enjoy social media “a lot” compared to 29% of boys
  • Girls spend an average of 40 more minutes per day using social media than boys
  • Approximately 62% of teen boys say they enjoy playing video games “a lot” compared to 20% of girls

Digital Media is Altering How Friends Interact

The more time teens spend in the digital world, the more they are apt to change how they make and interact with friends. 57% of teens have met a new friend online, but only 20% of teens have actually met their online friend in person.
Click to Tweet!Digital Diet Click to Tweet

Teens’ Preferences When Communicating

  • 79% prefer instant messaging
  • 72% use social media
  • 64% use email
  • 59% use video chat
  • 52% use video games chat feature
  • 42% use messaging apps such as Kik or WhatsApp

90% of teens with phones exchange texts. The average teen sends and receives a total of 60 texts per day (on average).
Click to Tweet!Digital Diet Click to Tweet

Even with a large amount of communication, only 25% of teens actually spend time with friends in person and outside of school regularly.

Study Time Suffers from Multitasking

If digital media consumes more teen time than sleep does, imagine what it’s doing to homework time!

  • 76% of teens listen to music while doing homework
  • 60% of teens text while doing homework
  • 51% of teens watch TV while doing homework
  • 50% of teens use social media while doing homework

James Steyer, chief executive officer and Common Sense Media founder cites a Stanford study that found dramatic differences in cognitive control and processing information when using heavy amounts of media to multitask. “Teenagers think that multitasking during homework doesn’t affect their ability to learn and… we know it does,” Steyer says.

“As a parent and an educator, there’s clearly more work to be done around the issue of multi-tasking. Nearly two-thirds of teens today tell us they don’t think watching TV or texting while doing homework makes any difference to their ability to study and learn, even though there’s more and more research to the contrary.” – James Steyer

The Stanford study found:

  • Heavy media multitaskers were 77 milliseconds slower reacting to changing patterns.
  • High media multitaskers performed poorly during long term memory tests.
  • High media multitaskers were 426 milliseconds slower than their counterparts when switching to new activities and 259 milliseconds slower engaging in a new section of the same activity.

MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller notes that our brains are “not wired to multitask well…there’s a cognitive cost.” In fact, multitasking has been shown to drop IQ levels. Very concerning for parents!

Parents’ Top Concerns about Teens Digital Diet

One in three parents say they have had concerns or questions about their child’s technology use.

The blue light devices emit can cause sleep issues. The light is “short-wavelength-enriched” meaning it emits more blue light, a light that negatively affects levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.

Parents are Checking In

Parents are communicating with their teens about what is considered appropriate and inappropriate behavior on social media. About 94% of parents have talked to their children about acceptable online behavior, and 40% have had that conversation often. More parents are going to greater lengths to keep their teens safe.

  • 61% checked which websites their teen visited
  • 60% checked their teen’s social media profile
  • 48% looked through their teens phone calls/messages
  • 39% used parental controls
  • 16% used parental controls to restrict cellphone use
  • 16% used monitoring tools to track a teen’s location through his/her cellphone

Around 60% of teens say their parents influence their online behavior the most, showing that parents who actively educate and check usage influence their teens’ online behavior.
Click to Tweet!Digital Diet Click to Tweet

What Else Parents Can Do

Even though parents are doing a great job of discussing proper online behavior, many would be shocked to learn the amount of time teens spend online daily. A study found that parents assume their child only spends three hours online each day. If you are concerned about your teen’s digital diet, take action. Teens admit parents influence their online behavior, but how can parents do so?The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • Go Digital Together
    • Joining kids in digital spaces is another way to spend time together. You can play video games with your kids or ask teens to walk you through their online world.
  • Set Up Digital-Free Zones at Home
    • Establishing limits on technology usage, helps prevent technology addiction. Consider making the dinner table a tech-free zone. Make it “face time” without the technology, and discuss the day’s events in their lives. Think about setting time limits as well.
  • Be Picky
    • It’s okay to dictate what your teen does with technology. Skyping with a favorite aunt is more beneficial than watching a 20-minute YouTube clip of “Epic Fails.”
  • Communicate Boundaries
    • Social media can help teens figure out who they are and how to successfully communicate with their peers. However, periodically monitor the communication. Violent, vulgar, offensive, or illicit conversations are a red flag. They should be evaluated for other risk factors.
  • Encourage Open Communication
    • Create healthy communication with your teen and encourage them to share what’s happening in their digital world.
  • Walk the Walk
    • Lead by example. Limit you own digital media consumption, so it’s noticeable to your teen. Demonstrate how to live a great life with device-free experiences.
  • Anticipate Mistakes
    • Mistakes happen. View these moments as learning experiences, and talk about online safety and etiquette.

As the digital world expands, teens’ digital diet will continue to grow. The question is: Will the content be a positive or negative use of time? Parental guidance can make the difference. Digital media can provide opportunities to learn, spark healthy interests, get inspired, and develop hobbies. Talk to your teen about their online behavior and monitor digital media usage.

15 DIY Motorcycle Tips to Ready Your Bike for Spring

Did your heart sink as you watched the snow melt and realized you hadn’t winterized your motorcycle? These DIY motorcycle tips can get your bike ready for spring and get you on the road for a smooth highway cruise.

1. Check for Small Animals and Debris

If you haven’t covered your bike thoroughly for the winter, you may be surprised to find that a small animal has taken up residence in your exhaust or air intake system. Examine these areas before starting your bike, and send any critters on their way.

2. Drain the Gas Tank

If the gas tank still contains old, untreated fuel, your motorcycle probably won’t start. Drain the fuel tank and examine the fuel. If brown grit comes with the fuel, it’s a sign the inside of your fuel tank has rusted. Flush your fuel tank with acid remover to prevent problems with your fuel system and ensure clean-burning fuel.

3. Treat Gasoline with Fuel StabilizerDIY Motorcycle tips Fuel Stabilizer

Even after draining the fuel system, there’s a chance that stale gas and ethanol are left in the gas tank. Stale gas and ethanol can cause engine misfiring or problems beyond simple DIY motorcycle repair. Adding fuel stabilizer to the tank clears any unwanted leftovers, plus helps the fuel system stay healthy.

4. Change the Oil

Even though you may have changed the oil and filter before you stored your bike for the winter, experts advise to do so again before your first ride of the new motorcycle season. The oil may have condensation build up from the winter and lack of use. At the very least, check the oil level before riding.

5. Check All Fluids

Gasoline is only one motorcycle fluid you should check when reviving your bike in the spring. Check hydraulic and brake fluid levels as well. Make sure any fluids left sitting in the reservoirs over winter didn’t deteriorate. Examine fluid colors and consistencies. Replace fluids that look dirty or different from when new.

6. Inspect Battery

If a motorcycle battery was left on your bike over winter, you will need to either charge it or replace it. First, pull it out and charge it overnight. Secondly, if you don’t have a maintenance-free battery, check fluid levels in each cell at this time. Use distilled water to fill the cells that are below the recommended level, not mineral-rich tap water. Distilled water keeps the combination of sulfuric acid and water as it should be without introducing minerals.

Once your battery is charged, test it. If it isn’t holding a charge, replace it now, especially if it’s over four years old. Replacing an old battery can prevent unforeseen problems such as being stranded or acid leaks.

7. Check Electrical System

There’s nothing worse than thinking you have enough gas for a longer ride, and then find out the hard way that your gauge malfunctioned. Examine all gauges, switches, head lights, rear brake lights, the horn, and turn signals before hitting the road.

8. Brighten the HeadlightsDIY Motorcycle Tips Headlight Cleaner

If your bike’s headlight lenses seem foggy, and visibility is limited, it’s time for some polishing. You can buy a headlight cleaner kit for around $20, and clean the headlight yourself. Many motorcycle accidents occur because car and truck drivers claimed to not even see the motorcycle. Prevent unsafe riding by making sure your bike’s lights are at their brightest.

9. Examine the Controls

Test your steering, throttle, and clutch to make sure they still work. Examine cables for frays, corrosion, or damage to coverings. Inspect lines and hoses for cracks, cuts, or signs of leaks. Control cables or hoses should not be folded or kinked, and steering should move freely. If this is not the case for your motorcycle, consider bringing your bike to a trusted mechanic to fix issues with controls.

10. Clean and Lubricate Chain (If Bike Doesn’t Have Drive Belt)DIY Motorcycle tips Degreaser

A dirty chain will inhibit how a bike runs. For this DIY motorcycle fix, buy a wire brush and dip it in degreaser. Slide the brush along the chain until it’s completely free of debris and mud. Then, rinse with fresh degreaser and wipe dry with a rag or sponge. Finish by spraying the sprocket side with lubricant. Also check for slack in the chain and adjust to manufacturer’s specification.

11. Check Brake Pads and Levers

Check your brakes before you ride to make sure your first ride of the summer isn’t your only ride of the summer. Brake pads should be at the very least 1/8 inch thick, preferably more. If brake pads are thinner or broken—replace immediately.

Test the position of your brake lever as well to make sure nothing shifted while in storage. Sit on your bike, grasp the handlebar ends, and place your fingers over the brake lever. If the lever touches slightly behind your fingers’ first knuckles from your fingernails and does not engage brakes, you’re in luck. No adjustments are needed.

If the brake lever feels far away, use the lever span adjustment knob to move the levers to the correct position for you.

DIY Motorcycle tips lever span diagram

12. Measure Tire Air Pressure

Check all tires to make sure the pounds per square inch (PSI) are at the recommended level. It’s natural for tire pressure to decrease during winter, but if your tire pressure is below the recommended level, inflate tires to proper level to ensure safe and smooth riding. Check also for any damage such as cracks, worn tread, punctures, or bulges. If you find damage, replace the offending tire before riding.

13. Let the Engine Run

Allow the engine to run for a few minutes and listen for strange noises. Doing so ensures the motorcycle can stay running. You don’t want to have your engine stall and fail miles from home!

14. Inspect the Spark Plugs

Check the gaps in the spark plugs for proper spacing. Check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s specifications and adjust. Replace worn plugs as needed.

15. Check for Loose Bolts

Once you’re sure your motorcycle can stay running, check all bolts on your bike to guarantee everything is tightened properly. Take the bike for a short test ride, and feel for abnormal vibrations. Once you’re back from the ride, check all bolts again to make sure nothing came loose. If all bolts and parts are in place, but you’re feeling a rumbling or unusual vibration, there might be a bigger issue such as:

  • Motor mounts
  • Swingarm
  • Axle
  • Steering head fasteners
  • Wheel balance
  • Suspension

These issues can be dangerous and most likely require a visit to a trusted mechanic. They should be fixed before riding.

Apply these DIY Motorcycle Tips on Your Next Project from Rawhide

If, after many attempts, your motorcycle still won’t start, there’s another option. Rawhide Boys Ranch has a collection of donated motorcycles up for auction on our eBay store. Each cycle includes a detailed inspection report for your peace of mind. See if your dream motorcycle project is there.

Every donated item helps fund programs for at-risk youth and families. We hope these DIY motorcycle tips have been helpful.

See motorcycles on ebay