Friday, May 29, 2015

The Teenage Brain by Frances Jensen ***

So much of our perception depends on our expectations.
After subjects made their guesses, they were told the real odds of those bad thing happening. The majority of the subjects were good at remembering the actual risk if it wasn't as bad as their guess. But the adolescents were worst at recalling the risk when the risk was worse than their original guess.
Their expectations determined what they would remember and what they would not.

In a similar way, my expectations for The Teenage Brain by Frances Jensen determined my reading. To be fair, my expectations were set by the author's MD and the subtitle: "A neuroscientist's survival guide ..." I expected new, insightful, science-based advice. What I got was mostly "Dear Abby"-type advice.
Studies have shown that teenagers who report sleep disturbances have more often consumed soft drinks, fried foods, sweets, and caffeine.
I also got hyperbole, sensationalism, and opinion.
At least one [my emphasis] expert on adolescent drug use told me [least credible reference ever] told me he believes pot is, in fact, a gateway drug.
And confusing editing.
... the highest levels occurring in the morning upon awakening. Those levels [the highest] increase 50 - 60 percent throughout the day.
In the chapter on computer addiction, the famous story about students asked to refrain from electronics for 24-hours was repeated. I wondered about asking the smug tellers of this story to refrain for 24-hours from using electricity or plumbing, suggestions that are as silly as not using electronics in the 21st-century. Certainly people in the 19th century got along just fine without electricity or plumbing, but so what?

The book has two authors, and I imagine they split the work and disagreed:
By instilling "too much" self-confidence ... parents "accidentally" inject their kid with a heavy dose of narcissism and a sense of entitlement
Seven pages later in a new chapter:
You want to always remain as positive as you can because you want to empower your teenagers
 On a positive note: 
The author Jensen is very activity with legal challenges to the criminal justice system treating teenagers as adults. She has assisted in several Supreme Court cases, and the chapter on Crime and Punishment is especially heart-felt and persuasive.

A comprehensive and sympathetic guide for parent with a bias toward excusing teenage behaviors.

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