The Lonely, ‘Safe’ & Underachieving Castle of Adolescence

The best way to look after a young female adult is surely to lock them up, right? What if I told you that the punishment of isolation or even worse – the lifestyle of loneliness does more to your female teen than just proving a point?

A recent study published by Science Daily shows direct correlation between housed alone female mice during adolescence and the likelihood of ‘habitual behavior’, or mindless living to occur (Hinton et al, 2019).

This means that female adolescents are more likely to fall into addictive patterns and less likely to have a goal-oriented approach towards life. What causes it? The prefrontal cortex develops atypically and since the prefrontal cortex is responsible with planning, thinking in the now and awareness of the present moment (which is something that meditation & mindfulness helps with), female teens who have been socially isolated develop in deficit.

Why was the study conducted on female mice only? One explanation that I’ve found is that housed isolation in the aggressive species of male mice is actually beneficial, as it eliminates reproductive competition and limits the reasons for aggressive behavior.

This certainly makes me rethink the traditional understanding of what is socially acceptable when raising children and what science has to say about it.

The bottom line is: don’t lock up your adolescent child, unless you want them to become complacent adults, sailing through life without a sense of being in the now.

We reveal that mice with a history of social isolation during adolescence are biased toward habit-like behaviors, despite social reintegration in adulthood.

Hinton et al, 2019