- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Macmillan Australia (26 March 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1760559466
- ISBN-13: 978-1760559465
- Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 2.4 x 23.4 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 422 g
- Customer Reviews: 8 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Teen Brain Paperback – 26 March 2019
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About the Author
"Gillespie is academically gifted, a linguist, excellent at most things he turns his mind to...he's a polymath, an old-fashioned Renaissance man, who finds few things dull and everything else interesting." The Courier Mail
David Gillespie is a lawyer and the best-selling author of the Sweet Poison books, a series about how we are all poisoning ourselves with sugar. He followed those up with Big Fat Lies and Toxic Oil both of which target the dangers of seed oils in our diet. Having upset the dietetics industry by writing about stuff in which he has no qualifications, he then turned his focus to something else he is unqualified to write about, education. In Free Schools, David takes a parent's eye-view of the research and concludes that all the rolling green hockey fields and architect designed amphitheatres won't make a jot of difference to the education your child is likely to receive. In Eat Real Food, David returns to the topic of human nutrition and delivers the ultimate practical guide to avoiding the two most toxic substances in the modern food supply, sugar and seed oil.
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In his book, Gillespie outlines the hormonal nature of human motivation, satisfaction, anxiety, depression and so fourth, and specifically in relation to teenage brains and how they respond to today's unprecedented access to digital devices. He then describes strategies for parenting that use this information.
In the first half of the book. He describes how hormones motivate us to do things that we need to survive (obtain and consume food, socialise, mate etc) and avoid dangers. He then outlines how addictive things high jack our brain's reward system so that we need to repeatedly seek them out.
The problem is that in the last decade and a bit we have a potent combination of teenagers, who are highly susceptible to addiction, along with unlimited access to highly addictive devices. These devices expose teens to three kinds of simulation: firstly porn, which is a simulation of sex; secondly, games and gambling, which is a simulation of danger; and lastly social media, which is a simulation of being liked by others where people 'farm likes'. In the past, teens might have sought out sex, alcohol or drugs, but these things were hard to get, which made addiction difficult, even if some did manage to become addicts. Yet now, teens with devices are in the same situation as a rat in a cage that will endlessly press a button to stimulate dopamine in their brains.
Gillespie also describes why addiction to devices can lead to greater depression and anxiety in teenagers who, you guessed it, are highly susceptible to mental illness. (Modern teens engage in far less traditional addictive behaviour and are far safer in a physical sense, but are far more vulnerable in an emotional sense).
In the second half of the book, he describes how to raise children in the modern world. He reviews the recent history of child raising theories and their limitations, especially given that the theories predated modern technology. He gives strategies to make rules and enforce them as well as how to deal with teens approval needs, addiction and their sleeping needs.
The book has a very strong scientific basis, explicitly describing the functioning of hormones in the brain, but Gillespie writes in very easy to understand language. Even where the technical explanations do get a bit hard to follow, each chapter has a clear summary. Ultimately his arguments boil down to parents needing to make the clear rules and enforcing them consistently, highly restricting access to devices, saying no and ensuring teens get sleep.