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Adolescent Risk-Taking Understanding adolescent brain development, why teens take risks and how parents and teachers can facilitate healthy decision making.

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Presentation on theme: "Adolescent Risk-Taking Understanding adolescent brain development, why teens take risks and how parents and teachers can facilitate healthy decision making."— Presentation transcript:

1 Adolescent Risk-Taking Understanding adolescent brain development, why teens take risks and how parents and teachers can facilitate healthy decision making. John Sneddon, Alicia Snuggs, Brianne Sullivan, Golden Williams, Geneva Trelease

2 ●Adolescence is defined as the period of life between the beginning of puberty and adulthood. Within this time, one is looking to identify their role and responsibilities in society. ●During adolescence, young people are developing both physically and mentally. Much of this development contributes to adolescents’ abilities to make decisions, which often result in risk taking behaviors. ●The prefrontal lobe makes decisions and is the last part of the brain to develop, causing risks to be taken. Risk-Taking Behaviors

3 How does adolescent brain development lead to risk-taking behaviors?

4 The brain develops from back to front. This leaves the prefrontal lobe as the last part of the brain to develop. The prefrontal lobe is responsible for planning and cognitive behavior. Therefore an adolescent’s ability to plan and weigh outcomes and risks is not fully developed. Answer

5 ●During Adolescence young people have a heightened awareness of everyone around them. Teens often feel that the whole world is looking at them, and judging their every move. This egocentric state has been coined as The Imaginary Audience. o The Imaginary Audience aids adolescents in partaking in risk taking behaviors. When they feel everyone is judging, they are more likely to make extreme choices.  Example: A teen feels like everyone at school is watching her as she walks down the halls and mocking her for the outfits she wears. She picks up smoking every day after school, hoping everyone will see her and think she is cool. ●Adolescents will also believe that they are unique and special compared to everyone else. This is known as their Personal Fable. o Teens will often make poor judgements based off of their Personal Fable. They will think that bad things could never actually happen to them, causing them to partake in risky behaviors, without really understanding the consequences.  Example: A teen has unprotected sex with multiple partners. She does not think she should have to wear protection because catching an STI would never happen to her. Psychological Factors

6 Risk taking can be positive or negative! Healthy adolescent risk-taking behaviors: Participation is sports, the development of artistic and creative abilities, volunteer activities, making new friends, constructive contributions to the family or community... Inherent in all of these activities is the possibility of failure. Parents and teachers must recognize and support their children with this. Negative risk-taking behaviors: Dangerous behaviors include drinking, smoking, drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sexual activity, disordered eating, self-mutilation, running away, stealing, gang activity, and others. Risk Taking... + VS -

7 Other factors that influence Risk Behaviors: ●Externalizing problems can cause young people to take additional risks, such as: o Substance Use o Risky Driving o Delinquency o Neglectful or Harsh Parenting o Other Familial Issues ●These problems can contribute to risk-taking behaviors like aggression, low scores in school, and sensation seeking. *These should be seen as warning signs for parents and teachers. Other important factors

8 utube.com/wa tch?v=LWUk W4s3XxY Start at 1:50 Insight Into the Teenage Brain

9 “In a recent study, people of different ages were asked to respond quickly to easy, risk-related questions like “Is it a good idea to set your hair on fire?” “Is it a good idea to swim with sharks?” (Baird & Fugelsang, 2004). Adolescents took about a sixth of a second longer than adults to get to the obvious “no.” ●The brain areas that quickly grasp the gist of situations and regulate judgments (specifically, the frontal lobe) are still developing during the teenage years. ●The adolescent brain just isn’t yet optimized for making that adult beeline to the bottom line.” How teens process situations

10 1)Behaviors that contribute to unintentional injury and violence 1)Tobacco use 1)Alcohol and other drug use Examples of risk taking behavior

11 4)Sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and STDs, including HIV infection 5) Physical activity 6)Dietary Behavior Big 6 Cont.

12 Does risk-taking behavior increase from middle school to high school?

13 Does risky behavior have an effect on academic performance?

14 YES.

15 Does socioeconomic status have an effect on risky behavior?

16 Yes.

17 Statistics show risks can have consequences...

18 ●Don't give unsolicited advice. ●Listen more than talk. ●Help adolescents see the benefits differently, not just the risks ●Use positive images of healthy behavior ●Give adolescents practice at recognizing environmental signs of danger ●Limit exposure to risky substances and situations ●Teach self-efficacy ●Train young people in strategies to help them avoid dangerous situations Tips for Teachers and Parents

19  Understand that risk-taking is about the teen, not about the parent or teacher.  "Teenagers engage in risk-taking behaviors to find out who they are, not to rebel or get back at the parent. “  Engaging in some risky behavior is not only normal, but it's necessary for teenagers. It's a tool to define, develop and consolidate their identity. Healthy risk-taking is a big part of growth.  It is important for parents to find ways to share their own risk-taking history with adolescents in order to serve as role models, to let teens know that mistakes are not fatal, and to encourage making healthier choices than those the parent may have made during his or her own adolescence  Adolescents look to their parents for advice and modeling about how to assess positive and negative risks.  Parents and teachers need to help their teens learn how to evaluate risks and anticipate the consequences of their choices, and develop strategies for diverting their energy into healthier activities when necessary. ***So try to engage a child in conversation and encourage behaviors that may fulfill the need to take risks, but are generally not harmful, such as sports. And give a child plenty of time to gain experience — learning how to take risks is a process. How can parents and teachers help?

20 ●Adolescent brains are still developing! ●They function differently than adult brains ●Students are still creating a sense of self ●Talk about your experiences, and be a good model ●Discuss beneficial aspects of positive risks ●*Listen and watch for warning signs of poor decision- making and detrimental risk taking Key Points to Remember

21 The Romance of Risk: Why Teenagers Do the Things They Do (1997, Basic Books) and The Sex Lives of Teenagers (2000, Dutton) Summary of the Body Awareness Resource Network (BARN) Evaluation Study Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood: A Cultural Approach, Jeffrey Jensen Arnett (2013, Pearson) Sources


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