Teenage Behavior

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Robin Basselin and Joshua Leo discuss a question many people ask themselves – why do teenagers behave that way?

Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Robin Basselin.

Voice 2 

And I’m Joshua Leo. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 3 

“You know a child is growing older when he stops asking where he came from. And he starts refusing to tell where he is going”.

Voice 4 

“Younger children are a pain in the head; older children are a pain in the heart”.

Voice 3 

“Teenagers say that there is nothing to do. Then they stay out all night doing it”.

Voice 1 

These sayings about teenagers are supposed to be funny. But they are often true! Being a teenager can be exciting. But the teenage years can also be difficult. David Dobbs wrote about teenage behavior in National Geographic Magazine. He told this story about his own son:

Voice 5 

“One fine morning in May, my 17-year-old son called me. He told me that he had just spent a few hours with the state police. He said he had been driving ‘a little fast.’ What, I asked, was ‘a little fast’?  He had been driving down the road at over 180 kilometres an hour. I said ‘That’s more than a little fast!’

Teens riding a motorbike
Image by Karl Allen Lugmayer from Pixabay
Voice 2 

Many other parents have similar stories to tell about their own teenagers. Teenagers often take risks, try new things and spend time with friends. But this behavior is more than just fun.  Some experts believe that this is how teenagers learn to become successful adults. Today’s Spotlight is on teenage behavior.

Voice 1 

A child enters her teenage years at about age 12. During this time her body and brain change. Her teenage years last until about age 20. During these teenage years, there are some behaviors that are very common. For example, teenagers often stay out late at night. Their emotions and ideas change quickly. And they often disagree with their parents.

Voice 2 

In the past, scientists have asked why teenagers have these “problems”. But David Dobbs explains that scientists have found a new way to look at teenage behavior. They have found that teenagers are doing exactly the right thing. They are getting ready to move from the safety of home into the outside world.

Voice 1 

Adults have much more responsibility than children. A teenager must learn to be independent. He must learn to make good choices. He will soon leave his parents’ house. He must be able to survive alone. David Dobbs tells the radio organization NPR:

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“The hardest thing we ever do is leave home. It is a real test. So the reasons not to do it are very strong. Look at the things that are particular to teenagers in almost all cultures – risk, seeking new experience and wanting to be with people their own age. That is the perfect mix of things to push you if you are 14 or 18 years old. These things make you get out and explore the world. It’s hard to do, and the risk is very great. But you have to be able to take risks at that time of your life.”

Voice 2 

Scientists have found three main behaviors that help teenagers achieve independence. First, teenagers often take risks. Remember the story of the 17-year-old-boy who was driving 180 kilometres an hour? He is not the only teenager to take this kind of risk.

Voice 1 

Risks can lead to danger. But learning to take some risks can be good for teenagers. Through human history, many people who took risks gained something good. Abigail Baird is a psychologist who studies teenagers. She says that a teenager who takes more risks and seeks new experiences does better as an adult.

Voice 2 

People often gain something when they take a risk. They may gain a new relationship or more respect from other people. But experts say that teenagers feel very strongly that they have something to gain. They value taking risks more than adults do. And they are more likely to take risks in front of other teenagers. In this way, they gain acceptance from other teenagers.

Voice 1 

The second way teenagers learn independence is by seeking out new experiences.  These new experiences may be activities like playing sports. Or they could be unhealthy activities such as smoking cigarettes. The new experience could even be something that is against the law – like destroying property. David Dobbs writes in National Geographic Magazine:

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“Seeking new experience can lead to dangerous behavior. But it can also produce positive behavior – like the urge to meet more people, for example. This can create a wider circle of friends. This often makes us healthier, happier, safer, and more successful.”

Voice 2 

Like taking risks, experience usually leads a teenager to become a more successful adult. Adults must face many new experiences. Teenagers who have had new experiences – both good and bad – are more prepared. It is easier for them to deal with changes as adults.

Teens in a classroom
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay
Voice 1 

And it is this desire for new experience that pushes the teenager. She goes out to try new things. As an adult she will have to leave the safety of her parent’s home. So as a teenager she gains experience that she will need as an adult.

Voice 2 

There is a third and last behavior that helps teenagers gain independence and become adults. Teenagers like to be around people of their own age. Their friends are very important. They are learning the skills of surviving in a community. David Dobbs explains this also:

Voice 5 

“Teens want to be around people in their age group for a powerful reason. They want to invest in the future instead of the past. We enter a world made by our parents. But we will live most of our lives in a world run by people our own age. Knowing, understanding, and building relationships with them is very important for success.”

Voice 1 

Adults need to have good relationships with their communities. This is important for feeling peaceful and happy. But it is also important for a person to survive. That is one reason why teenagers are influenced by their friends. They are preparing to be social adults in their communities.

Voice 2 

So there are good reasons for teenagers to take risks, try new things and spend time with friends. Knowing this does not make the teenage years easier. Teenagers will still make mistakes. But hopefully their teenage behavior will help them to become successful adults.

Voice 1 

The writer and producer of this program was Rena Dam. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Teenage Behavior”.

Voice 2

You can also leave your comments on our website. Or you can email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also find us on Facebook – just search for Spotlight Radio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

What do you think is the most difficult part of being a teenager? Did you take risks when you were a teenager?

Join the discussion

9 comments
  • The most thing difficult is knowing what you want and what you need to do … to my i don’t take risk exactly but i want to try new somthing .

  • I think that the most difficult is many doubts and touble feelings that mix at the same time in the teenager brain. When I was younger, I used to study a lot and play with my friends, because I hated to take risks or dangerous situations, though I enjoyed resolving math challenges.

  • actually I think the biggest difficult part teenagers is they don’t know what they are want. And they consider themselves knowing every experiences and things so they hate hear any advice from their parents or any adult. they consider these advices reducing respect for themselves.

  • In the beginning most risks for teenagers they are want to be more free they don’t want feel of responsibility just funny and joking with their friends and sometimes that will be more risks for adults because they don’t have responsibility so they will not can working and successful .

  • 1- difficult part their don’t care for safety of others and sometimes we should that stopped them in order of develop them better
    2-yes, I and my friends sometimes was fell unsafely

  • 1- I think, the most difficult part of being a teenager is when you know that your life it will be different.
    2- Yes. When I was15 years old, I jumped from 15 feet. I am now grateful that I did not break my legs.

  • I passed teenage years and now when I listen this radio, I feel regret because I didn’t try lots of new and strange things such as travel without my parents.
    It’s so funny at this time, but when I was teenagers, it’s is not unacceptable
    I wish, I will be stronger to through my safe zon more and more.
    Thanks for reading.

  • the most difficult thing in teenager’s life are they leave safety portent house to out side. and they will be independent and they gain most of thing from outside others

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