Straight Talk: Teen shopping guide, straight from the source

By: Straight Talk for Teens Lauren Forcella
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Dear Readers: It’s time again for Straight Talk’s shopping list – direct from the source. I’m always hoping Santa will “think outside the box” (literally) and scratch video games, computers and TVs for the bedroom and anything else that can make a teen irritable, lazy, addicted and friendless. Even laptops and smartphones are suspect for the under-17 crowd. Many parents say it was the laptop that ruined family life – their teens hardly came out of their rooms again. Consider expanding your family computer station instead. Lean times must breed character. Many panelists talk about what they are giving to others and say they don’t want anything. Nonetheless, young adults are currently America’s poorest demographic, so please, if you are financially able, ask what the young adults in your life need and help them out. ~ Lauren Geoff, 26, Redding: Top electronics for the price: Camera: Kodak Easy Share ($80) MP3 player: Sansa Clip Laptop: Chrome Books, Windows 7 Laptops, Ultrabooks Tablet: iPad2 or Motorola’s Xoom (Be warned! Young people prefer laptops.) Flash drives E-Reader: Kindle ($80) Trekking watch: Casio Path-finder (barometer, compass, altimeter) Katie, 18, Auburn: I love just having my family come together. That’s all I really want. The laptop for college I’m purchasing myself. For Grandma, I’m making a photo album with everyone’s names. For others, I’m knitting scarves or baking. Lennon, 25, Fair Oaks: Best gift: active listening and participation in someone’s life. Lara, 20, Concord: Please, money for textbooks! Gregg, 20, Los Angeles: Socks and shirts! Brie, 20, Santa Barbara: I’m not asking for gifts and am shopping simple. For Mom, I got a nice shirt; for roommates, mints and lip gloss. Peter, 24, Monterey: I love actual books, but an e-reader would be great for a college student. Akasha, 17, Sacramento: This year my family said “no shopping.” I plan to give foot massages. My brothers always fix appliances, change heating filters, light bulbs, etc. Gifts of service are greatly appreciated. Sarah, 20, Redding: To make a needy family’s Christmas dream come true, my family participates in Adopt-A-Family. Personally, I appreciate books. When someone gives me their favorite book, it’s an opportunity to learn more about them. For more discussion, to ask a question or inquire about being a youth panelist, visit or write P.O. Box 963, Fair Oaks, CA 95628. -------------------------- More from Lauren Forcella About those gift cards: Simple, convenient, more personal than cash, and what kids want, right? Well, maybe. But did you know that anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of all gift cards are never redeemed? This number edges closer to 50 percent for cards given to adolescents. In 2006, Home Depot reported $43 million in unredeemed cards sold before 2002. Cash might be a better option, unless you think the recipient might use it to buy drugs or alcohol (not that uncommon). Check in with parents and see what kind of grades and activities the teen is involved in. Failing or poor marks in school often indicate drug or alcohol abuse, another addiction like video gaming, unhappiness or depression. In this case, buy an actual gift to show you care, and offer cash to help pay for tutoring or professional counseling.