Why do teenagers do crazy things?
Adolescence is the period between the onset of puberty and adulthood. In today’s advanced society, adolescence is usually defined as between 13 and 20 years of age. During this period, children begin to assert their independence and form their first deep attachments outside the family. For many teenagers, this is a period of risky behavior and new experiences.
Usually people associate risky behavior of teenagers with the play of hormones and, without a doubt, this is one of the reasons. In adolescence, there is a surge of testosterone-a hormone associated with sexual activity, aggression and dangerous behavior. However, not all teenagers are speeding while driving, trying drugs or engaging in promiscuous sex. Therefore, there must be other reasons for their behavior.
Some scientists argue that adolescence is an artificial phenomenon that has arisen in modern society. In other words, in modern culture it is customary to take care of children for longer than necessary. Due to the long period of study at school, University, etc., necessary for full entry into society, young people do not reach full independence until the age of 25. Parents do not expect from teenagers adult behavior, respectively, adolescents do not show it.
But it wasn’t always like that. Until the twentieth century, most people under the age of 20 married or got married, created families, worked and acted as full members of society. Life expectancy was short, and earning a living was hard. The average person became a grandfather at the age at which modern people only have their first (and often only) child.
As in the case of all psychological problems, the problem of adolescent behavior is reduced to two components: biological and features of education. The biological component implies hormonal changes and brain development. When we talk about parenting, we mean the social expectations of a teenager. Undoubtedly, both factors are equally important.
Adolescent behavior can also be viewed from the point of view of the theory of evolution. Behavior that seems inadequate to us has helped our hunting and gathering ancestors survive for hundreds of thousands of years. British psychologists argue that adolescence is necessary to build the social connections necessary to become successful in adulthood.
In other words, the reckless behavior that we associate with adolescence is not a key feature of this period, but arises under the influence of peers. Psychologists conducted a study in which teenagers used a driving simulator. When the Teens drove themselves, they drove carefully, without breaking the rules. But when a friend was around, teenagers were more likely to take risks. They did so under the influence of their peers or simply out of a desire to show off.
Another study found that Teens are more likely to use alcohol or drugs in company than alone. Such research results clearly show that the social component plays a decisive role in adolescent behavior.
By the way, risky behavior of teenagers is not exclusively a human trait. Mammals in General are more prone to risky behavior between puberty and first sexual contact. For example, a study conducted with laboratory mice found that adolescent mice were more likely to drink alcohol while in a group than when alone. In contrast, adult male mice consumed alcohol moderately both in a group and alone.
Both animals and humans exhibit a tendency to risk-taking behavior under the influence of peers. It is quite possible that the reason for this is the high level of testosterone in the body. Young males of many species of animals participate in the struggle for females. The male’s place in the hierarchy depends on his ability to take risks and survive. Thus they show the females that they are able to take care of the offspring. And, because males compete with each other, testosterone affects not only their sexual behavior, but also their aggression.
But people are not just affected by the presence of peers. Teenagers worry about what their peers think of them, and when they are alone. In one study, children, adolescents and young adults were asked to assess how risky different scenarios were. After each of the study participants expressed their opinion, they were shown the answers of others. This rating was very different from their own answers. Participants were then asked to revise their responses. Both children and adults wanted to change their answers if they were told that they had been shown adult answers. However, both children and adults were left with their opinions if they were told that the answers were given by a teenager. In other words, both children and adults trusted the opinion of adults more than the opinion of teenagers. At the same time, the teenagers showed exactly the opposite behavior. They have changed their opinion only in those cases if they were shown the answers of the adolescents, but not adults. In other words, they showed typical adolescent behavior, not agreeing with the opinion of adults.
Even brain activity in adolescents and adults is different. When adolescents were asked to perform various tasks while simultaneously measuring their brain activity by MRI, those areas that were responsible for processing social information were more active when they were told that they were being watched by their peers. The knowledge that their work is watched, less impact on the activity of the brain in adults.
Psychologists suggest that a key feature of adolescence is a strong desire to fit into social life. If this is the case, then the risky behavior of adolescents is caused by behavior on the part of peers. High levels of depression among adolescents are also associated with their need for social integration. Anyway, teenagers who suffer from depressed mood often complain that they feel isolated from their peers.
Peer pressure can be blamed for adolescent behavior problems, but psychologists say that such pressure is also a way to identify leaders among groups of teenagers. Several studies by American and British psychologists have been devoted to this topic. One of them is devoted to the fight against bullying in school, the other-the fight against Smoking. When the most popular school students took part in the research, bullying and Smoking rates in schools fell sharply compared to those in which the program was run by adults. In such cases, when school students were involved in socially useful work, they showed more enthusiasm if they perceived it as a popular job.
Adolescence is not necessarily a period of stress and violent behavior. Many teenagers channel their irrepressible energy and enthusiasm into sports, music or study. And these efforts benefit them in adulthood. If you understand your Teens ‘ need for peer acceptance, you can create a good environment for that. Just let the teenager believe that this is his idea.