If your teen is a rule-breaking, booze-sneaking, sexually-experimenting pain in your derriere, say researchers, the behavior isn’t entirely driven by a desire to drive you batty.
Research into the sometimes frustrating and often dangerous behavior of teens has revealed that developing adults are somewhat evolutionarily geared towards cracking into six-packs behind the shed before engaging in heated pre-sexual fondling, and scientists have conceded the behavior is somewhat “inevitable” on the part of teens. Not surprisingly, the research revealed that teens are more likely to take the risks they take in groups, and that the behavior evolved as a way for the relatively young of our species to cope with “a harsh environment.”
One of the aspects of the study observed teens alone as well as with their peers- and the teens in groups tended to be bolder and less risk-averse, with the brain’s reward sectors lighting up when the kids engaged in edgy behavior with friends.
Professor and neuroscientist B.J. Casey of Weill Cornell graduate school of medical sciences in New York studied brain imaging, and said that the behavior actually enhances teens’ development:
“We’re so used to seeing adolescence as a problem. But the more we learn, the more adolescence starts to seem like a highly functional, even adaptive period. It’s exactly what you’d need, to do the things you have to do.”
Researcher Laurence Steinberg of Temple University in Philadelphia also commented on the risk-taking tendencies of teens:
“Heightened risk-taking during adolescence is likely to be normal, biologically-driven, and, to some extent, inevitable. There is probably very little we can or ought to do.
“This is a development shift that likely has evolutionary origins… More than 90 per cent of all high school students [in the U.S.] have had sex, drug and driver education in their schools, yet large proportions of them still have unsafe sex, binge drink, smoke and drive recklessly.”
Steinberg recommends easily accessible contraception, higher cigarette prices and increased alcohol prohibition as ways to limit the damage teens can inflict upon themselves during this period of growth.