Why Teens Act The Way They Do (Written by a Teen Herself)


1. Risk Taking

All teenagers take stupid risks that they one day look back on and wonder what the heck they were thinking. But studies have found it is not because teens aren’t thinking about the risks involved—it’s because they think about them longer than adults.

Yes, that’s counter-intuitive. But think of it like this: If you are on a diet and see a piece of yummy chocolate cake, are you more likely to eat it if you just glance at it, remember you are trying to eat healthy, and walk away, or if you sit there and mull over the pros and cons of eating it? The latter, obviously.

It’s the same with the teen brain. Our brains take a lot longer to fully form than was previously thought. In teens, the frontal lobe (where our decision making happens) is not as connected to the rest of the brain as it is later in life. This means teens literally cannot come to a decision as fast as an adult. Teens take an average of 170 milliseconds longer to go over the consequences of a decision, which in turn makes them more likely to decide the risk is worth it.

2. Giving in to Peer Pressure

Adding friends to the mix makes it even harder for teens to avoid taking risks.

Adults wonder why their kids' friends can influence them so much. That’s because once you are an adult, your brain has quite literally grown out of it.

One study using MRI scans on adults and teens showed that their brains reacted very differently to the presence of friends when making a decision. It found that teens who would not take risks when alone or with an adult were far more likely to take risks when their friends were watching. The scans showed that the reward center of the teen brain became much more active in the company of their peers. In college students and adults, however, the reward center’s activity remained at a constant level no matter who was watching.

This means that teens, when spending that tiny bit of extra time deciding what choice to make, are also fighting against the overwhelming internal drive that tells us to do things that feel good. As the brain develops in adulthood, however, that connection ends and we end up getting no extra good feeling from taking risks in front of our friends.

3. Lack of Concentration

While teens may look more like adults than kids, to a neuroscientist their brains resemble a child's. That’s part of the reason teens suddenly start acting like toddlers again around age 14. While their bodies are aging, their brain is rearranging itself in a way that temporarily makes it act the same way it did when they were younger.

When scientists looked at how teenagers’ brains functioned while they were distracted during an assigned task, they found a large amount of activity in that darn frontal lobe again, far more than they would in an adult. Teens have too much active grey matter in that area, something that decreases as we get older. This means their brain is trying to take in and process everything going on around it, literally overloading them. The more streamlined adult brain works more efficiently, making concentrating on one thing much easier.

But if you are in your twenties and have been feeling cocky up until this point, it’s important to note that this chaotic brain makeup doesn’t completely settle down until your early thirties.

4. Overly Emotional

If teens seem to not care about other people’s feelings or seem to flip out over nothing, it might not be because they are drama queens. Studies have found that teens have a much harder time correctly interpreting vocal inflection and facial expressions from other people, and so they sometimes react irrationally to emotional situations.

What emotion do you think that woman is feeling? If you’re not a teenager you probably answered fear, just like every single adult in the study did. But while some teens identified fear, 50% of them saw anger, or even shock. All of the participants were hooked up to MRI machines while they looked at these images, and an analysis of the scans showed that adults and teens used two completely different parts of their brains to come to a decision on what emotions the people were feeling.

The teens were using a part of the brain called the amygdala, which largely controls emotions, while the most active part of the adult brain was the part controlling logic and reason. That means that if you are expressing an emotion—say, disappointment—a teen’s brain has a 50% chance of misinterpreting it as a different emotion, like anger. Then, since the emotional part of their brain is already active from making that (incorrect) judgment, they become more likely to react irrationally and over the top.

5. Getting Dumber

Parents of teens often wonder what happened to the bright child they used to have. How can someone go from getting A's to getting C's when they seem to be doing the same amount of work? Once again, changes in the brain are to blame. While the merits of IQ tests are debatable, scientists used to think IQ stayed the same over one’s lifetime. Now it turns out that number can fluctuate widely in adolescence.

All the extra grey matter we talked about starts to die off as you get older. When you are young, that grey stuff has lots of extra synapses that help your brain store and process information. But as you age, your brain starts killing off the bits that don’t get used as often. Scientists used to think there was only one major “surge” of synapse “pruning” when we were children, but brain scans of teens have shown that one just as large happens at the beginning of adolescence.

This makes sense biologically; why should your brain waste energy remember things that aren’t very necessary to your day to day life? It’s one of the reasons that younger children can learn a second language much faster than adults; they have more synapses to store that information. And if they keep speaking that second language often enough, they will remember it the rest of their lives.


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Most Helpful Guys

  • I dont take risks (even if the risk isn't even big), I have never given in to peer pressure, the 3rd one? yeah kinda true I guess... 4th? Dunno
    5th? Yeah for some reason Im seen as one of the smarter OR at least most knowledgeable people in class? (studying the 2nd hardest major in Swedish HS) Grades doesn't show you're good at anything or actually understand the thing you're doing so can't go of them as "proof"

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  • I guess that's why I never acted like a teen, not even when I was a teen.
    1. I've never been inclined to take risks, I always play it safe.
    2. I don't give in to pressure, that's why I never started drinking alcohol, smoking, taking drugs or any other teen addiction crap.
    3. I was always able to concentrate, especially in school.
    4. Sure, I was overly emotional, but I managed to maintain my self-control.
    5. On contrary, I had better grades in high school, compared to primary school, I was getting smarter.
    I suppose I was a boring teen, and I was definitely unpopular loner :P

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Most Helpful Girls

  • 1. Brains aren't fully formed and don't make good choices
    2. Thats not just a teen thing. Many adults do it too. But at that age you wanna be accepted and fit in.
    3. Brain isn't fully formed and there's a lot going on.
    4. Lots of hormones

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    • 1. That there is basically what I am saying if you read it properly
      2. Due to statistics more then half of teens do not feel as though the fit in, less pressure is provided when you are an adult, as you are no longer at school.
      3. We (I) are clearly not talking about how underdeveloped the brain is, there is child 2x as more intelligent than an adult which is a teen.
      4. over emotional, and lack of hormonal balance

  • Great Take! You included some things in here I wasn't aware of such as the grey matter in the frontal lobe and the synapses purge. I love studying abnormal psychology, but this very normal psychology is refreshing and does explain a lot about teenagers. I like your writing style--keep it up

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What Guys Said 30

  • This all depends on how u were raised and ur personality type. SOME religious teens could be different. My sister went through all these. I didn't. I was just too mature for my age. My first sex at 21, my first party at 21. Dont drink much and I don't drugs. I hard lots of opportunities to do these things way earlier but I didn't find it appropriate. I always thought hard before doing anything. And no friend could influence me. I influenced them to do better.

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  • Re #1. Right on. The "executive cortex" or decision-making part of the brain isn't reasonably developed until about 25 - 27 years old. GaGers can go back and check myTake on the chemicals of the brainhttps://www. girlsaskguys. com/health-fitness/a54747-the-4-chemicals-that-let-you-be-happy

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  • 1. I wouldn't say I'm a risk taker.
    2. I don't really get peer pressured into things. In fact, it's quite the contrary.
    "You should go to this sport thing."
    "Nah."
    "Really, it'll be fun."
    "It sounds boring."
    3. I pay attention in school.
    4. I'm pretty calm.
    5. XD Definitely not. I get good grades and I have even stumped some of my teachers with my problems I think up of.

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  • 1. No. I played it safe
    2. No I actually dropped the people that tried to get me into stuff.
    3. After some effort, I had no problem concentrating
    4. I had a pessimistic outlook but no mood swings
    5. Nah. I maintained good grades through out.
    I put most of this take as why teens do the way they do stuff our of rebellious attitude, shitty parenting, and lack of respect.

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  • Great take.. personally #1 is really the one that affected me the most and I do wonder how I am still alive.

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  • Coming from a teen
    1. Risk taking is just fun
    2. I dont have much friends or feel some pressure cuz of my cocky personality lol
    3. If its interesting for me sure, if not i ain't studying shit about it
    4. If i were overly emotional i would end my life actually, Being careless is happiness at its finest.
    5. I don't know about that xd im doing dumb things on purpose

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  • I never gave into peer pressure as a teenager when it came to drugs and alcohol and sex. Guess cause i never hung around the wrong crowd or wanted to experiement as a teenager. I am glad I am not a teenager today as i probably would make bad decisions.

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  • No , teens do this because they're humans we're not machines with a catalogue we make mistakes and we learn from them and if you don't make mistakes well you're life is critically boring

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  • So you're saying teens are dumber because their brain simply adapts to their daily life? 🤔😂
    I wish they are more like Pokemons

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  • Great Take. I think this accurately covers it well, especially the risk taking.

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  • Many of these are actually not natural but side effects of a toxic school system.

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  • not all teens are like this-i just wanna point it out. i think more is involved then just being a teenager-which isn't to say it's not a tough period.

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  • This isn't just about teens. I've seen adults in my country (e. g., politicians) behave just like you describe.

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  • Need's work.

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  • Agreed to an extent.

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  • Cuz of all the hormones messing with their brains

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  • Interesting

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  • Nice...

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  • Yeah. Teens could act better.

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  • Interesting

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  • Nice take.

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  • Is it the cause of parenting or society?

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  • I agree. Peer pressure is dangerous.

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  • Interesting myTake

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  • Great take

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  • Lack of respect and bad parenting

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  • Really?

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  • Nicely done

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  • I hate teens

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What Girls Said 23

  • I think I'm just impulsive and overthink other's emotions and even my own, otherwise I don't relate much. Awesome take❤

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  • Safe to say that we all go through these. Fortunately, we grow up and more mature.

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  • All of these described me as a teen

    Too many things I would do over if I could!!!

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  • It explain a lot but also if you aren´t act like a typical teenager you are still normal.

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  • Teenagers scare the living shit out of me.

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  • Interesting take.

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  • I did None of that. but cool take 😊

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  • Nice take

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  • Great take

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  • Yas love this. So true

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  • Great take

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  • Good take

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  • Very interesting.

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  • Teen guys are unfaithful hoes. Guys of all ages honestly are.

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  • Interesting read, thanks

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  • Your brain isn't developed yet.

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  • Im 16 but I think of this as u only got one life so you mine as well live it to the best of your abilities. I mean i dont do crazy stuff but I like to have fun and live it up. Think about it this way would u rather be anti social and a goody to shoes or be a little rebelous and have fun.

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  • Because they think they know everything

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  • Good observations

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  • yep to all of it.

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  • 2. Most people are conformists unfortunately.. Actually the older a person is the more conservative he becomes..
    3. Some people never grow up
    You see grown ass adults in their 20s whining like kids

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  • I never did any of this shit when I was a teen. My 16 year old brother doesn't do this shit either.

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  • You have it down.

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