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Supporting Teenage Minds in the Modern World


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For a talk to parents at The British School in the Netherlands

Published in: Education
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Supporting Teenage Minds in the Modern World

  1. 1. Information, classroom materials and free resources: Supporting teenage minds in the modern world with Nicola Morgan, award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction
  2. 2. • References to research • Lots of downloadable items • Classroom resources; books • Contact me • Presentation on Slideshare More information
  3. 3. “Active agency” “Our brains in our hands”
  4. 4. Adolescence is not new Universal, biological, temporary (phew!) and positive stage of development •The POINT is independence •This involves separation
  5. 5. Prefrontal cortex vs limbic system Prefrontal cortex: CONTROL - reason, prediction, impulse control, moral values, decisions Limbic system - including amygdala • EMOTIONS + INSTINCT: Reactive, impulsive, motivating, rewarding, tempting PFC Prefrontal cortex develops last (mid 20s)
  6. 6. Helps explain problems with: •Emotions up and down •Empathy •Self-control •Decision-making • Risk-taking • And peer pressure
  7. 7. Sleep changes – a triple whammy • Biological need for more sleep – 9 ¼ hours • “Body clock” acts differently: • Switches melatonin ON late at night • But switches it OFF later in the morning • Vital for health + wellbeing  performance • See my website and handouts
  8. 8. Understanding stress
  9. 9. First, what is stress? • Biological response to threat • Designed to maximise performance • Adrenalin + cortisol instantly make body ready for action • So, what’s the problem? 1. Adrenalin: too much/too often  panic 2. Cortisol build up  health and performance reduces 3. “Preoccupation”
  10. 10. “Preoccupation” • The “bandwidth” analogy – bandwidth is finite • Every conscious action uses some brain bandwidth • If attention is (over)occupied, we cannot perform 100% • Over-occupation  stress • BIG bandwidth occupiers: 1. Intrusive thoughts and worries 2. Processing new info/learning/understanding 3. Internet/screens 4. Resisting temptation Consider how these apply to young people
  11. 11. Screens and Social media: good and bad “Digital natives”?? Applies to all ages
  12. 12. Lots of positives Knowledge Ideas Connections Entertainment and fun Understanding other people Skills Creativity
  13. 13. Some problems
  14. 14. 1. Easy to over-use  addiction Our screens: perfectly designed to give us pleasure/reward A brain chemical (dopamine) gives a buzz of reward when we do certain things Dopamine is addictive
  15. 15. Screens give us endless opportunities to be what we’re programmed to be Activate the “reward” or pleasure systems of the brain
  16. 16. 2. Poor concentration Remember BRAIN BANDWIDTH “Continuous partial attention” Lots of research shows: • If we can see our phone, we do our work less well • If the person next to us is using a screen, we do our work less well! • The presence of a phone makes conversation shallower…
  17. 17. 3. Self-esteem and mental health The research on this is very weak Research shows: • Using social media a bit can be good for mental health • Using it too much can be bad I say: Ignore statistics; listen to yourself.
  18. 18. 4. Some healthy things we’re doing less • Physical activity / going outside • Reading reading for pleasure (and other hobbies) • Face-to-face chat • Sleep • Doing nothing – just day-dreaming
  19. 19. No strategies will succeed unless: 1. We understand the addictive potential 2. We properly understand the negatives 3. We do it together – adults and young people
  20. 20. We can learn a lot from chocolate rabbits
  21. 21. Two TOP TIPs for ALL: 1. Practise uni-tasking 2. Make plenty of time for: Sleep ~ Exercise ~ Face-to-face chat ~ Reading for pleasure and other hobbies ~ Thinking and dreaming
  22. 22. Wellbeing/Stress Strategies COMING SOON!
  23. 23. Wellbeing is a 4-legged table Image © Katherine Lynas 2019
  24. 24. All four legs are equally important Image © Katherine Lynas 2019
  25. 25. Better sleep Better wellbeing Better success Better wellbeing Less stress
  26. 26. 1. Instant breathing technique • Instant way to reduce stress chemicals and slow heart • Free audio on my website • Learn it before need it
  27. 27. 2. Daily relaxation
  28. 28. Daily relaxation is simple and quick bath walk music read draw stroke a pet bake breathe deeply write mindfulness daydreamlaugh be alone OR social look at nature yoga
  29. 29. Choose what suits your stress RELAX DISTRACT
  30. 30. Calm your body/heart/mind • Breathing exercise • Take time to daydream • Walk / run / swim • Listen to music • Lie on the grass • Yoga • Have a bath Take your mind off worries • Watch an exciting film • Play with friends • Play or watch sport • Anything you have to concentrate on • Read exciting book • Computer games RELAX DISTRACT
  31. 31. Reading for pleasure – supported by science!
  32. 32. What the science shows • Reading for pleasure: • Improves general knowledge and vocab • Raises self-esteem + mental health • Reduces stress and anxiety • Takes mind off negative thoughts + worries • Helps sleep • Teenagers who read daily even do better at school – (OECD studies of 72 countries)
  33. 33. “Readaxation” “Reading deliberately to relax and lower stress”
  34. 34. FREE CHOICE Stories Non- fiction Graphic novels Inspirational Biographies War, peace, illness, romance Sporting heroes Funny, sad, scary Easy, hard Familiar, new NO JUDGING!
  35. 35. Tasks for Today’s Parents 1. Model:  Managing your own stress  Growth mindset: skills are grown, not gifted  Healthy screen-time ~ pre-bed ~ meal-times ~ when someone is talking 2. Be there – a strong safety-net �Don’t bring missing PE kit into school!
  36. 36. “Active agency”: our brains in our hands
  37. 37. Information, classroom materials and free resources: Supporting teenage minds in the modern world with Nicola Morgan, award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction