Teenage Brains Run on Raw Emotion
Research explains why that isn’t necessarily a bad thing
” The biggest social movements today — including protests for climate change and gun regulation — were sparked by teenagers. And while teens are often belittled as vaping TikTok fanatics, recent research suggests the passion and commitment of adolescent activists such as climate activist Greta Thunberg, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, and the gun-control crusaders from Parkland, Florida in part reflect the unique nature of the teenage brain.
The idea that human brains don’t fully mature until people are in their early to midtwenties — which has become the consensus belief among scientists over the past 15 years — was initially used to explain all manner of troublesome teen behavior. It provided a biology-based explanation of why adolescents are impulsive, highly emotional, and vulnerable to various forms of addiction.
But more recently, researchers have started to emphasize that those same phases of brain development that may encourage risk-taking behaviors can also drive teens to impressive heights. Channeled wisely, the impulses that emerge from the adolescent brain can be extremely valuable — for the kids, their societies, and perhaps the planet…..”
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A survey of more than 3,400 university students in the U.S. found widespread problems linked to excessive smartphone use, including lower grades, trouble concentrating in class or at work, feeling fretful or impatient without their phones, missing work due to smartphone use and developing light-headedness or blurred vision due to excessive screen time. Researchers from the University of Chicago, the UK’s University of Cambridge and the University of Minnesota developed the survey and analyzed the results. Their findings suggested significantly higher alcohol misuse among students reporting problematic smartphone use compared to a control group but found no significant link with any other type of substance abuse or addiction. Excessive phone use was also linked to lower self-esteem, depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, the survey revealed that students with problematic smartphone use tended to engage in sex less frequently than their peers. However, the percentage of students reporting two or more sexual partners in the past year was significantly higher among excessive phone users than among sexually-active students with no problem phone use.
Jon E. Grant et al, “Problematic smartphone use associated with greater alcohol consumption, mental health issues, poorer academic performance, and impulsivity,” Journal of Behavioral Addictions, July 8, 2019, doi.org/10.1556/2006.8.2019.32