He can’t help it. Credit: Muhammed Rehan / Flickr Creative Commons.Photo Caption Text
We blame teenagers for a lot: they’re melodramatic, they stay up late and sleep all day, they mess around with drugs and alcohol. But, according to Frances Jensen, author of, we’d better get off our high horse. She says there’s a scientific explanation for their behavior - and the reasons are rooted in brain development.
- Teens get a bad rap for impulsivity. But according to Jensen, it’s not their fault. During our teenage years, areas of the brain that control things like emotions and pleasure are fully-developed. But, connections between these areas and areas associated with self-control, logic, and decision-making aren’t fully formed until years later. The result? Like driving a car with no brakes.
- Addiction is learned behavior. And teenage brains are way better at learning than adults. Throw in drugs and alcohol, and you’ve got a recipe for addiction that’s way more potent than it is for adults.
- Why can’t you get your kid up in the morning? Teenage brains don’t release melatonin - the chemical that tells our body that it’s time to go to sleep - until several hours later than adults. That explains why they love staying up so late - and why they’re so hard to get out of bed when its time for school.
- Frances Jensen about the difficulties of the teenage years.
- Teenage drinking may cause permanent brain damage, from .
- The on the epidemic of teen sleep deprivation.