The Perils of Adolescence

Adolescence is a perilous time of life. It’s a time of heightened risk taking–reckless driving, risky sex, excessive drug and alcohol use. For decades the prevalent view–the common wisdom of parenting manuals–was that teenagers feel invulnerable, immortal. They simply perceive less peril in dicey situations, and believe they have much more control than they actually do. In short, they underestimate life’s very real risks and dangers.

But scientists who study adolescent decision making now dispute this common parenting wisdom. Teenagers do indeed underestimate risk–sometimes–but at other times they overestimate how risky and harmful a situation is. So the actual risk taking cannot be simply explained by a diminished perception of risk.

So what does explain it? Well, one risk factor is almost certainly the influence of other people–especially other teenagers. When teens are with their friends, compared to when they are alone, they are much more likely to do things like use drugs, shoplift, and drive dangerously. And they spend a lot of time with their peers–far more than with their families. What’s more, teenagers very much want to be accepted. They fear rejection. All of this would seem to implicate peer pressure and conformity in adolescent risk taking.

Yet surprisingly, the role —> Read More Here


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