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The Student News Site of West Boca Raton High School

The West Boca Bullseye

The Student News Site of West Boca Raton High School

The West Boca Bullseye

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Why Teens Make Bad Decisions

Why+Teens+Make+Bad+Decisions

Teens are notorious for making bad decisions. During childhood, parents teach their kids right from wrong, how to take responsibility, and how to apologize for their mistakes. But, when kids grow into teens, most of what their parents say go in one ear and out the other. Now, this doesn’t necessarily apply to all teens. There are many who make the right decisions most of the time. To those of you who tend to lean more towards making bad decisions, this article is for you. 

If you’re known for making bad decisions, and want to know why, you’re in luck. Good news, it’s not entirely your fault. Our brains don’t fully develop until the age of 25. Many Gen Z teens use phrases like “do it for the plot” to rationalize a bad decision. Although it’s fun to have debriefs with your friends, it’s probably best to limit them. The prefrontal cortex is the frontal lobe of the brain that’s responsible for many complex functions. Some of those functions include planning for the future, decision making, goal-directed behavior, and emotions. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for all the decision making that humans make. 

A high-order function, like decision making, requires many neurons to be connected in many complex patterns for them to be able to function. Neuron networks take a long time to fully develop, which is why the prefrontal cortex doesn’t fully develop until the age of twenty-five. Scientists used to believe that the brain fully develops by the ages of five or six, but a neuroscientist named Jay Giedd noticed growth in the prefrontal cortex near puberty. Children’s brains go through synapse pruning, the removal of unused or unnecessary connections between neurons, around the age of three. During that process, the synapses cut back and allow the stronger connections to develop. Giedd noticed a similar process was happening in the prefrontal cortex of children around the ages of eleven for girls and twelve for boys. 

Neuroscientists and psychologists acknowledge that teens make riskier decisions than adults. The distinct difference between teens and adults are the types of decisions. Teens tend to make choices that include drinking, smoking, reckless driving, and driving under the influence, for example. Adults are more responsible and experienced with some of those decisions due to their experience and their prefrontal cortex being fully developed. 

So, with all of that in mind, next time you decide to make a questionable choice, remember that it might be because your prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed.

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About the Contributor
Isabella Fernandes, Reporter
Hi! My name is Isabella Fernandes and I’m a senior at West Boca. This is my first year on The Bullseye and I’m really looking forward to writing this year! I joined The Bullseye because I wanted to be more involved in the school and report on the latest news. I’m interested in writing about sports and entertainment. I play club volleyball and my position is an outside hitter. In the future I aspire to be in the medical field, and as of right now, I want to be an orthopedic surgeon. 
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