Howard Schultz, former CEO of Starbucks, once said, “Great companies that build an enduring brand have an emotional relationship with customers that has no barrier. And that emotional relationship is on the most important characteristic, which is trust.”

Starbucks has built an enticing brand, especially to its primary target market: teenagers and young adults. But for many teens today, the brand is not the only thing that attracts them. There’s also the caffeine.

Teenagers across the United States are consuming entirely too much caffeine. Studies show that teens between the ages of 13 and 18 should not consume any more than 100 mg of caffeine a day. A typical coffee from Starbucks contains at least 300 mg of caffeine, or three times the recommended amount.

Soft drinks and energy drinks such as Red Bull and Monster are filled with caffeine and other ingredients that should not be consumed on a regular basis. It is important that teens understand the effects that caffeine can have on them. The major side effects of too much caffeine include nervousness, anxiety, jitteriness, sleep problems, gastrointestinal issues, tremors, increased heart rate and, in extreme cases, death.

The more caffeine your teen consumes, the more likely he or she will become addicted to it. Caffeine is defined as a drug due to its effects on the body and, just like any drug, is a hard habit to kick. Stimulants like caffeine directly affect the brain and cause it to crave more of the same. Because of its addictive properties, caffeine withdrawal is now recognized as a mental disorder.

The best way to counteract bad consumption habits is to know what the healthier options are. Here are some better alternatives for your teen when it comes to caffeine:

  • Tea – While some teas at Starbucks still contain large amounts of caffeine, the vast majority of options available at restaurants and in stores are much lower in caffeine and sugar than coffee and other caffeine-rich beverages.
  • Vitamin Water Energy – This drink contains no artificial ingredients and only 50 mg of caffeine in each 20 oz bottle.
  • Chocolate milk/ hot chocolate – One glass of chocolate milk contains about 5 mg of caffeine, and hot chocolate contains about 25 mg. When drank in moderation, the natural caffeine found in chocolate is a much healthier alternative for your teen than coffee, soda or energy drink.

There’s no denying that caffeine can be harmful, especially in large quantities. Many teens feel the pressure of advertisements from companies like Starbucks. That is why it is important as a parent to understand the risks of caffeine as well as to know safer and healthier alternatives. Remember, as always, that your own modeling of healthy caffeine consumption may be the most effective way to impact your teen’s caffeine consumption!