How to Get Teens to Wear Sunscreen

We all know that everyone should wear sunscreen everyday to avoid skin cancer.  We apply it on our children and on ourselves.  But, do teens use it?   Probably not.  The teenage years are about becoming independent and being totally fearless.  Warn a teenager about the dangers of skin cancer and he or she may see it as a challenge.  So the question is How to Get Teens to Wear Sunscreen?

Most teens don’t think about the consequences of going to tanning beds or outside in the sun without putting some type of sunscreen on. They live for today and don’t worry about tomorrow.  That’s one of the joys of teen-hood.

So, how do we get them to consider the future and protect themselves today?

Here are some ideas:

Appeal to what they care about: Remember that all teenagers care about their appearance. Don’t tell them to use sunscreen because it is good for their HEALTH, show them what it can do to their BEAUTY if they do not use it.

Use shock value: Show the teen visuals (graphic pictures or real-life people you may know). Show examples of how the sun’s UV rays can cause unsightly brown spots on the face and other parts of the body.  Show images of skin cancer sores and wrinkles.

Make it their decision: While discussing the issue, use a subtle approach that lets the teen make his or her decision about whether or not to wear sunscreen.  The visuals will paint a picture in their mind and will most likely have a lasting effect.  Let it simmer in their mind for a while, you may be surprised that they eventually decide to use sunscreen.

Have someone else tell them: If you know someone who has suffered a devastating case of skin cancer, have that person talk to the teen about the experience.  Explain that skin cancer can begin looking like a harmless freckle and lead to death.  Look for any other person or credible resource, other than you, that will prove your point.  Remember, if it is YOUR idea, they will not do it.

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