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Delayed Adulthood

Young adults and teens have been facing hardships with growing up much more than any other generation. Often, the blame has fallen on them for being lazy, less motivated, or just not as successful when they graduate as they had hoped, but in the end, the real problem is simply delayed adulthood, which they really cannot control.

Each successive generation since 1970 has struggled to be financially independent, graduate on time or at all, and marry and settle down with a family. An article from the Sunday Review of the New York Times reported that 25 year olds are twice as likely to still be students compared to when their parents were at their age. Now, delayed adulthood may seem like it carries a lot of negativity with it, but there is an argument to make for how delayed adulthood might be benefitting these young adults more than harming them.

Adolescence is a time when your brain is the most influenced by experience due to the “plastic” or flexible nature of the brain during this time. A lot can be learned during the adolescent years, both through opportunity and vulnerability that can help shape a young adults vision and understanding of the world around them. The case of delayed adulthood is beneficial in this way because dragging out the plasticity of the brain into your young adult years is keeping your brain actively working, in turn making you into a smarter person.

There has been a noticeable change in neurochemical shifts at the end of adolescence and going into someone’s 20s. These changes make our brain less plastic and less sensitive to environmental influences. This means that we are not retaining as much information because our brains are becoming harder. It is still undetermined if this neurochemical change is brought on by less stimuli going into our 20s or if this is a biological phenomenon that is inevitable.

If it is possibly tied to the stimuli and activity that we engage our brains in, it is possible to open our window of brain plasticity for a longer period of time before fixing itself on adulthood. It may seem like the latest generation is harming themselves with their adulthood delays, but some mindful consideration should be given for the positivity that may also be blooming. 

 

Based on the NYT article "The Case for Delayed Adulthood."

 

--Jessalyn Kieta

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Cracking the Case of the Teenage Brain

The teenage years are such a critical time of learning, and retaining information correctly, because your brain is developing rapidly. Frances E. Jensen and Amy Ellis Nutt have written a book about the neurosciences of the teenage brain, breaking down its development process in order to better understand the changes and interworking of the teenage brain.

During one’s adolescent years, the brain is in its prime for learning because it possesses the ability to form memories that last longer. This means that hands-on experiences, photos, acting out skits, and videos may be more suitable to learning during this time period because of the impact these interactive learning strategies can have on the teenager's memory. However, teenagers are so open to learning everything in their environment that when placed in the wrong one, they can be taught things and remember things that are not helpful or suitable.

When the brain receives signals of happiness or reward, it is receiving a drug called dopamine. During the adolescent years, your body is more likely to send dopamine to your brain in a heightened fashion because it is taking in a lot of memories that appear to be positive. This heightened level of dopamine, however, is what causes a lot of teenagers to fall down a path of addiction, because their body is reacting strongly to their substance of choice. Their brains are also not fully developed, especially in the frontal lobes where decision-making and judgment is made; this is why many adolescents that do make a wrong choice often don’t know how to get themselves out of it. These are just some examples of how negative environments have also been known to effect teens, though there are plenty of positive learning environments that can do good for a teen during these years. 

This is simply a gentle warning and reminder from Jensen and Nutt to take into consideration the kind of environment that you choose to put your children under; they may be retaining harmful, rather than helpful, information or habits. Make sure to continually remind teens to be cautious of certain situations, and how to handle a situation once they are in it. It doesn’t matter how many times they have heard it before; they need the reinforcement! Both of the authors also proved a point to their children that it is hard for them to multitask at their age.

If we take these brain facts seriously, they can be incredibly helpful and advance the learning of teens for "street smart" and "book smart" environments with their sponge-like brain.

 

Based on the New York Times article, "The Teenage Brain."

 

--Jessalyn Kieta

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