Changes in the brain
“When I started my career as a scientist twenty years ago, the idea prevailed that adolescence is just a difficult phase. Young people are rebellious, have a big mouth and in some cases they play truant or even commit a crime. It is true that some young people take more risks when adolescence starts. This has a lot to do with the development of the brain. For example, around the age of 15, the brain goes through a growth spurt in which it becomes more sensitive to reward, sensation and excitement. However, not all young people get into trouble. In fact; almost 80% of young people get through the period of adulthood without too much hassle.
In recent years, extensive neuroscientific research has been conducted into brain development in young people. This shows that the same brain development that leads to negative behavior can also trigger positive developments. For example, most young people will start to value others more. Friendships become more intense and the need to work together grows. Many young people also feel more involved in problems in the world and like to think along in solutions.
Adolescence therefore also has positive sides. But for a long time, science and society have hardly paid any attention to this. Shame. After all, why shouldn’t we give more room to the positive developments of young people? Wouldn’t young people then be able to use their full potential much more? Consider, for example, school subjects. Now they are mainly focused on factual knowledge. But if we know that young people like to work together or want to make their voice heard, then it is an interesting idea to also pay attention to this in education so that the natural needs of young people are reinforced.”