Taking Charge of Your Health

(light music) [Mila speaking] As teens, people are always
telling us what we can’t do. Do you ever wonder why that is? Why can’t I stay up late? What could happen if I just
played for 15 more minutes? Who cares if I smoke a
joint every now and then? Let’s face it, adults may mean
well, but they can’t really explain why they won’t
let us do this stuff. The thing is, there’s actually
a really cool explanation, and it has to do
with our brains. From the outside, the
brain of a newborn looks just like a smaller
version of an adult brain, but there’s a big difference. There’s a ton of
stuff that still needs to be programmed into
a young person’s brain. That’s where our life
experiences come in. How we interact with
what’s around us shapes our brains until
we’re in our mid 20s. We can’t feel our
brains changing, but they are super busy building
circuits and programming. So how does this happen? Every little thing
that happens to us can change our
brain in huge ways. At short distances, our
experiences can make or break connections between brain cells. By guiding the
creation of circuits, experiences shape
our perceptions, memories, and everything
that makes us unique. But they also affect our
brain across longer distances. This involves the construction
of thick bundles of fibers that connect different
brain regions. By creating this
complex network, experiences help increase
the brain’s bandwidth, allowing it to work
better and better. We’ve gotta keep in mind,
these short and long range connections are influenced
by everything we do and everything
that happens to us. But this is awesome news. It means we are the
programmers of our brains. Every decision, good or bad, influences how our
brain develops. Let’s talk about taking drugs. For example, pretend
this is the keyboard you are using to
program your brain. Using drugs just for
fun or to get high would be like scrambling
the letters on the keyboard. Now, if you scrambled the
letters on the keyboard after the program is written, that can lead to
temporary errors or make it hard for the
program to run for awhile. But if you scramble the letters while the program
is being written, the program can incorporate catastrophic long
lasting glitches. This is why teens are
better off without drugs. We are in the middle
of coding our brains and drugs can cause
real problems that
can last a long time. And yet, drugs are just one of the many possible ways of
scrambling our keyboards. For example, not enough
sleep, lack of exercise, or eating too much junk food can also harm our
brain programs. Yeah, I get it, it’s annoying to be told what we
can and can’t do. But I would rather
focus on my ability to shape my brain through
smarter decisions. It turns out, we have far
more control than we thought. We can use this information
to choose our own paths and give ourselves the
best possible futures.

4 thoughts on “Teen Brain Development

  1. Please make multiple versions of this video and use teenagers of all ethnicities, genders, socio-economic groups and languages! Teenagers are not all blonde white girls 🙄 and teenagers will receive these important messages if they are delivered by other teenagers who they can relate to and look and sound like them! That is what will influence teenagers to pay attention to the message.

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