A University or Colorado Cancer Centre study published in the American Academy Journal of Dermatology suggests that teenagers are more worried about their looks than the risk to their health when it comes to covering up from the sun.
Teens were shown videos about UV light and sun prevention behaviour. They were then divided into 2 different that were shown 2 different videos: one watched how sunlight damaged skin and led to wrinkles and premature ageing. The other about the increase in risk of skin cancer after sun exposure.
After six weeks only those subjects who had seen the skin ageing video had actually changed their sun prevention behaviour. They both remembered the same amount of information about the effects, but the group who watched the health risk video showed no change in the actual behaviour of statistical significance.
"We see this anecdotally in the clinic. The teens who come in, often it's because their parents are dragging them. A lot have undergone tanning or never wear sunscreen. You can tell that when we talk about the skin cancer risk, it doesn't faze them. But when you talk about premature wrinkling and aging, they listen a little more closely," explains April W. Armstrong, MD MPH, investigator at the CU Cancer Center.
"For teenagers, telling them UV exposure will lead to skin cancer is not as effective as we would hope. If our endgame is to modify their behavior, we need to tailor our message in the right way and in this case the right way is by highlighting consequences to appearance rather than health. It's important to address now - if we can help them start this behavior when younger, it can affect skin cancer risk when older," Armstrong says.
 Effect of appearance-based education compared with health-based education on sunscreen use and knowledge: A randomized controlled trial. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Feb 5. pii: S0190-9622(13)01337-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2013.12.007
 Medical News Today, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/272692.php