No dumb gum
What a surprise, chewing gum might be of benefit to teens.
(Shawn Benjamin)
I have two things in common with Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson. We both have a soft spot for Cristiano Ronaldo, and we both chew gum under stress.

It’s not something I am proud of, and I am sure it is not the most attractive thing. But I feel it helps me focus. Lo and behold, latest research supports my theory.

Apparently, teenagers who chewed gum in maths class did better in standardised tests than those who didn’t. Yes, my bullshit-o-meter does kick in gently when I see it was sponsored by Wrigley’s, but since it happens to make sense of my personal bad habit, I am in.

It’s a good thing to remember when teens start settling in towards this term’s exams and studying: one person’s distraction is another’s focus tool. So while I might like to chew gum, my teen likes to stick those little white earphones into his ears and listen to the repetitive beats of dance music.

He hates it when the house is too silent when he is studying, and has a high threshold for hearing cartoons blaring or his brother prattling on endlessly about soccer.

When I was a student I used to prefer silence, but loved to study with a cigarette and a bottomless cup of coffee. The cigarette and the coffee are both gone now, and I sincerely hope my sons never pick up those bad habits.

But it seems that  if they do happen to copy my gum-chewing, it might do them some good after all.

There is one caveat, though. Sugarless gum is sometimes recommended by dentists, but there have been cases where an excess of artificial sweeteners has led to digestive problems including chronic diarrhoea.

Oh, and let’s train our kids to wrap the gum in a bit of paper and throw it in the bin. According to a report in the Daily Mail, it costs more than three times as much to scrape chewed gum off the pavement as it did to buy it.

Do you detest gum, or would you encourage your teen to chew it?

Read more by Adele Hamilton

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