Risk taking among teenagers

A recent post on the New York Times' Well blog discusses how it is becoming increasingly common for teenagers to record their often unsafe and unhealthy risky activities and post them online.

According to psychologists interviewed in a recent story on National Public Radio, "Engaging in some risky behavior is not only normal, it's necessary for teenagers . . . It's a tool to define, develop and consolidate their identity. Healthy risk-taking is a big part of growth."

They go on to define healthy risk taking: "Sports and developing artistic and creative abilities -- be it through art or theater -- are all activities that involve healthy levels of risk taking. Teens can engage in volunteer activities, and even Internet activities. It can be as simple -- and as scary -- as getting up on stage, or asking somebody out."

Sometimes, teenage risk taking can take the form of alcohol and drug use. Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) provides information about ways to promote healthy risk taking. Teenagers who participate in safe and healthy risk taking are less likely to drink alcohol or use drugs.