If you have teenagers in your home, you’ve probably wondered a time or two:  “What were they thinking?” On this latest edition of Connecting Faith, we get some answers to that question by looking into the latest brain research and understanding the world of the teenager with noted psychologist and author Dr. David Walsh. We review his best-selling book Why Do They Act That Way? and discover a survival guide to the adolescent brain. Here’s where our conversation takes us:

We start with laying a bit of the groundwork for understanding the human brain itself. Our brain is absolutely amazing!  It’s a miracle that God created & there are still so many things about its function that we don’t understand. For background, Dr. David notes the 1 quadrillion connections that are in the brains of babies. The wiring of our brains contains both hard wiring – which stems from our genetics – and soft wiring – which is heavily influenced by our experiences.

On the experiential side, we hear that if the brain does a lot of math, it gets good at it. The same holds for things like tennis and video games. The brain is not technically a muscle but it’s a good analogy for how it functions in that respect.

Even though our brain takes up only 2% of our body’s mass, it takes up a whopping 20% of our body’s energy. It’s a statistic that helps us realize how key exercise and sleep are to mentally and physically healthy kids.

There are big differences in boys’ and girls’ brains – a fact that will probably not be of great surprise to you. For instance, Girls’ brains are designed by God to have instinctive language and communication areas far more extensive than male brains.

We discuss the impact that new technologies are having on the formation of young brains. Dr. David notes that talking and reading are real keys to developing healthy wiring in our brain. To the former, there is no substitute for one on one communication.

Technology is not really good or bad in and of itself, we just need to realize how impactful it is. As the technological revolution has occurred at lightning speed, the average American kid now exceeds 50 hours per week spent with technology. This has also played an interesting role as it relates to focus and multitasking. 99% of undergraduates now report that they can multitask, but the question is, can kids really multitask?

“Kids are literally training their brain to not focus…. When we multitask,  we loose speed, accuracy and efficiency.”  

All this – and much more equipping & practical insight as well – on our latest edition of Connecting Faith.

Highlight: Impulse control

The mind of a teenager