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The Adolescent Brain

By Deborah Williams

Adolescence. Just the mere mention of the word brings shudders to most parents.  Some remember going through it with their previously delightful children.  Others have not experienced it yet, but they dread what could be their parenting nightmare!  Writing for the NPR blog Mind Shift, Cory Turner explains things that parents might be surprised to learn.  There’s a “dirty little secret of adolescence:  The cloudy judgment and risky behavior may not last a year or two.  Try a decade.”

As if that was not enough, there’s more to learn.  Because of changes in their brains, teenagers often begin making bad choices earlier than parents may have thought: not at 16 or 17 but beginning at 11 or 12 years of age.  So, they begin to make bad decisions around 11 years of age, and this poor judgment lasts for about 10 ears!

Additionally, an experiment led by Temple University’s psychology professor Laurence Steinberg confirmed what many adults figured out:  Teenagers are more likely to engage in risky behaviors if they are with other teens.  The results of  brain scans of teens during a driving game showed that teens take a similar number of risks as adults  when they are “driving” alone; however, when they are with other teens, they are more likely to engage in risky behaviors.  An immature prefrontal cortex in their brains is the reason.

Dr. Steinberg explains more about the adolescent brain in this video:

Topics: Child Development, Parenting | No Comments »