Study: Teenagers take risks to earn peer approval

29 May

 

In No one is perfect: People sometimes fail, moi said:

 

There are no perfect people, no one has a perfect life and everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, children do not come with instruction manuals, which give specific instructions about how to relate to that particular child. Further, for many situations there is no one and only way to resolve a problem. What people can do is learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others. Craig Playstead has assembled a top ten list of mistakes made by parents and they should be used as a starting point in thinking about your parenting style and your family’s dynamic.

 

1)            Spoiling kids 

 

2)            Inadequate discipline

 

3)            Failing to get involved at school

 

4)            Praising mediocrity

 

5)            Not giving kids enough responsibility

 

6)            Not being a good spouse

 

7)            Setting unreal expectations

 

8)            Not teaching kids to fend for themselves

 

9)            Pushing trends on kids

 

10)           Not following through

 

Playstead also has some comments about stage parents.

 

Let kids be kids. Parents shouldn’t push their trends or adult outlook on life on their kids. Just because it was your life’s dream to marry a rich guy doesn’t mean we need to see your 4-year-old daughter in a “Future Trophy Wife” t-shirt. The same goes for the double ear piercing—that’s what you want, not them. Teaching kids about your passions is great, but let them grow up to be who they are. And yes, this goes for you pathetic stage parents as well. It’s hard enough for kids to figure out who they are in the world without you trying to turn them into what you couldn’t be.

 

Paul Tough has written a very thoughtful New York Times piece about the importance of failure in developing character, not characters. In What If the Secret to Success Is Failure? Tough talks about facing up to failure, but he is not talking about per se risky behavior.    https://drwilda.com/2011/12/06/no-one-is-perfect-people-sometimes-fail/

 

Sarah D. Sparks writes in the Education Week article, Teenagers Are Wired for Peer Approval, Study Says:

 

 

In an ongoing series of studies, Temple University researchers Laurence Steinberg and Jason M. Chein and their colleagues have found that teenagers take more risks and are more sensitive to potential rewards when they think peers are watching them—even if they consciously believe they aren’t affected by peer pressure.

 

“Although it’s very, very tempting to assign consciousness to teenagers’ motivations and behavior—to say they are doing something because ‘they don’t understand the consequences,’ ‘they think they are invincible,’ ‘they want to impress their friends’—what we think we’re finding is [risk-taking] has a much more biological basis to it,” said Mr. Chein, the director of Temple University’s Neurocognition Lab.

 

In studies discussed in the April special issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science on “the teenage brain,” the Temple researchers found 14- to 16-year-olds take significantly more risks, and are more responsive to potential rewards, when other teenagers are around than when they are by themselves.

 

“In the same way a young child is developing in the context of her family environment, a middle schooler and high schooler is developing in the context of peers,” said Kevin M. King, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle, who was not part of the Temple research.

 

“There are huge changes in the social environment,” he said. “[Adolescents] are going from one classroom to many, from parents’ making all the early friendship choices to making [their] own.”

 

Focused on Rewards

 

And that new freedom to make their own choices comes just when students start taking more risks in the company of peers.

 

Mr. Steinberg, a psychology professor at Temple, and Mr. Chein presented study participants with a game in which a player was shown a card labeled with a number between one and nine, and had to guess whether the next card would be higher or lower, with players told before some rounds that they would receive a reward or no reward for a correct guess.

 

The game was rigged: A computer randomly ensured each player guessed right exactly half the time. The participants played under functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, which measures electrical activity in the brain, allowing the researchers to gauge how much players were responding to the possibility of rewards.

 

Both adults and adolescents had more brain activity for a potential reward than for none, but teenagers showed significantly higher response to potential rewards when they were told (untruthfully) that another teenager was watching from another room. Adults, by contrast, showed no change when told of being watched.

 

The findings build on a 2009 study by Mr. Steinberg that found, among 14- to 16-year-olds, younger teenagers took twice as many risks in a timed driving simulation when with peers than when tested alone. Older teenagers took 50 percent more risks when doing the simulation course with friends than alone.

 

Channeling Peer Power

 

In a study of binge drinking, Mr. King found adolescents who are deciding to drink weigh negative effects such as having a hangover or getting in a fight less than they weigh perceived social benefits, such as increased confidence and the ability to speak with others.

 

Both the Temple and University of Washington researchers are separately exploring interventions to help teenagers take a step back mentally in social situations, turning an emotional decision into a more rational one….

 

Related Stories

 

 

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/05/22/32peers.h32.html?tkn=PTVFBCFZch6sOyARMfoB9mGdbVai%2F1DepwoM&cmp=clp-edweek

 

 

Citation:

 

The Teenage Brain Peer Influences on Adolescent Decision Making

 

  1. Dustin Albert1,2,3

  2. Jason Chein4

  3. Laurence Steinberg4

 

  1. 1Center for Child and Family Policy, Duke University
  2. 2Social Science Research Institute, Duke University
  3. 3Center for Developmental Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  4. 4Department of Psychology, Temple University

 

  1. Laurence Steinberg, Temple University, Weiss Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19122 E-mail: lds@temple.edu

 

Abstract

Research efforts to account for elevated risk behavior among adolescents have arrived at an exciting new stage. Moving beyond laboratory studies of age differences in risk perception and reasoning, new approaches have shifted their focus to the influence of social and emotional factors on adolescent decision making. We review recent research suggesting that adolescent risk-taking propensity derives in part from a maturational gap between early adolescent remodeling of the brain’s socioemotional reward system and a gradual, prolonged strengthening of the cognitive-control system. Research has suggested that in adolescence, a time when individuals spend an increasing amount of time with their peers, peer-related stimuli may sensitize the reward system to respond to the reward value of risky behavior. As the cognitive-control system gradually matures over the course of the teenage years, adolescents grow in their capacity to coordinate affect and cognition and to exercise self-regulation, even in emotionally arousing situations. These capacities are reflected in gradual growth in the capacity to resist peer influence.

 

Many parents want tips about how to talk with their kids about risky behaviors and whether they should spy on their children.

 

Perhaps the best advice comes from Carleton Kendrick in the Family Education article, Spying on Kids

 

Staying connected

 

So how do you make sure your teens are on the straight and narrow? You can’t. And don’t think you can forbid them to experiment with risky behavior. That’s what they’re good at during this stage, along with testing your limits. You can help them stay healthy, safe, and secure by doing the following:

 

  • Keep communicating with your teens, even if they don’t seem to be listening. Talk about topics that interest them.

  • Respect and ask their opinions.

  • Give them privacy. That doesn’t mean you can’t knock on their door when you want to talk.

  • Set limits on their behavior based on your values and principles. They will grudgingly respect you for this.

  • Continually tell them and show them you believe in who they are rather than what they accomplish.

  • Seek professional help if your teen’s abnormal behaviors last more than three weeks.

 

A 1997 landmark adolescent health study, which interviewed over 12,000 teenagers, concluded that the single greatest protection against high-risk teenage behavior, like substance abuse and suicide, is a strong emotional connection to a parent. Tough as it may be, you should always try to connect with them. And leave the spying to James Bond. It will only drive away the children you wish to bring closer.

 

In truth, a close relationship with your child will probably be more effective than spying. Put down that Blackberry, iPhone, and Droid and try connecting with your child. You should not only know who your children’s friends are, but you should know the parents of your children’s friends. Many parents have the house where all the kids hang out because they want to know what is going on with their kids. Often parents volunteer to chauffeur kids because that gives them the opportunity to listen to what kids are talking about. It is important to know the values of the families of your kid’s friends. Do they furnish liquor to underage kids, for example?  How do they feel about teen sex and is their house the place where kids meet for sex?Lisa Frederiksen has written the excellent article, 10 Tips for Talking to Teens About Sex, Drugs & Alcohol which was posted at the Partnership for A Drug-Free America

 

So, in answer to the question should you spy on your Kids? Depends on the child. Some children are more susceptible to peer pressure and impulsive behavior than others. They will require more and possibly more intrusive direction. Others really are free range children and have the resources and judgment to make good decisions in a variety of circumstances. Even within a family there will be different needs and abilities. The difficulty for parents is to make the appropriate judgments and still give each child the feeling that they have been treated fairly. Still, for some kids, it is not out of line for parents to be snoops, they just might save the child and themselves a lot of heartache.

 

Related:

 

What parents need to know about ‘texting’                  https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/what-parents-need-to-know-about-texting/

 

Children and swearing                                                https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/children-and-swearing/

 

Does what is worn in school matter?                             https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/does-what-is-worn-in-school-matter/

 

Teen dating violence on the rise                                   https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/teen-dating-violence-on-the-rise/

 

 

Where information leads to Hope. ©  Dr. Wilda.com

 

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

 

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

 

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©                           http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

 

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                                http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

 

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                                      https://drwilda.com/

 

 

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