New study shows why teens take more risks online than young adults

study teens adolescents more risks online on computer
Most parents can probably tell you that teens may not make smart decisions when they’re online, especially the younger bracket. The internet is jam-packed full of interesting and highly inappropriate material that seemingly draw in the young and curious like the smell of hot, fresh donuts in the morning. But apparently, we need a study to reinstate this fact, and that’s just what the United Kingdom’s University of Plymouth has done.

The study was led by Claire White from the School of Psychology, and surveyed a group of teens between the ages of 13 and 17, and a group of young adults between the ages of 18 to 24. The team set out to discover why the first group tends to take more risks online than the latter group, and provided each with access to an online quiz gambling scenario.

This “scenario” was provided in two ways: what each player could win, and what each player could lose. After the individuals of each group went through both scenarios, the team determined that, yes, the younger group demonstrated riskier behavior. It all boils down to experience: the more memories and experiences you have, the more likely you will take time to weigh the consequences.

The risk-taking decisions in the younger group stems from Fuzzy Trace Theory. This defines two memory processes: remembering the general meaning of things (gist), and remembering things exactly as they are, such as word-for-word (verbatim). Thus, the latter memories are more specific than the former, such as verbatim memory would remember the actual word “cat” whereas gist memory would remember everything associated with cats, like claws, meowing, and stinky litter boxes.

Thus, consider both sets of memories as a growing library. The book shelves of adolescents are rather bare while young adults have a larger collection to access. Young adults have many shelved gist memories to rely on whereas adolescents don’t have a foundation to draw upon the gist of “risky situations.”

“These results were partially linked to sensation seeking, but more fully explained by Fuzzy Trace Theory — the notion that people process information in both a verbatim (quantitative) and gist (qualitative) fashion,” said Amy McSweeny, the university’s media and communications officer.

The study also revealed that the adolescent group wasn’t swayed by the different set of questions (win versus lose). However, the young adults clearly considered their option not to gamble when the potential losses were presented. Young adults make thoughtful, intuitive decisions whereas adolescents quickly calculate risks based on their limited experiences.

“Our findings provide important and novel insights into ways in which online safety training and risk communication is understood by people of different ages, and so how experts and campaigners can tailor their information to keep everyone safe online,” White said in the new report.

The report appears in the December edition of Decision, an American Psychological Association publication. It points out that websites and online services need to provide information that’s easily understood and processed by young teenagers, and explain possible risks that are easy to remember and retrieve later. These same sites and services should also relay the same information in a more adult manner for the latter, older group.

Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Deals

Best tax software deals from TurboTax, H&R Block, and more

Do you dread doing your taxes? Luckily for you, there are plenty of tax software options available to guide you through the process. And guess what? Some of them are even on sale today! Check out deals from TurboTax, H&R Block, and…
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Mobile

Is your smartphone frozen? Here's how to reset your iPhone

You can do a lot with an iPhone, but if you ever run into an issue with it, the first thing you should do is restart it. In this guide, we tell you how to reset your iPhone, and explain how it differs from a factory reset.
Emerging Tech

A citizen of the universe? Dutch startup wants to deliver a baby in space

Netherlands-based startup SpaceLife Origin plans to be the company responsible for delivering the first baby born in space. And it wants to do it by 2024. Because, you know, science.
Computing

Google is giving its G Suite web apps new touches of visual improvements

Your G Suite applications will soon have a different look. Several of the web apps are getting updated with subtle visual improvements inspired by Google's Material Design guidelines. 
Computing

Hackers are scoring with ransomware that attacks its previous victims

Computer viruses are always evolving. In a new one, dubbed "Ryuk," hackers are targeting PCs with ransomware that scours an infected network in order to pinpoint and attack and enterprises with big money.
Computing

An update to Microsoft To-Do will help you keep up with your resolutions

If you're looking to stay productive in 2019, you might want to check out the freshly updated Microsoft To-Do app, now with additional integration with the Windows 10 Start Menu and more.
Computing

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.
Computing

Could the next Microsoft HoloLens be announced at MWC 2019?

After not having a presence at Mobile World Congress for three years, Microsoft is now sending out media invites for a press conference on February 24 during the annual event in Barcelona. Could a next-generation HoloLens be on the way?
Computing

Microsoft to separate Cortana from search with the next version of Windows 10

Changes are on the way for two key features in Windows 10. A separation of Windows 10 search and Cortana will allow Microsoft to more often innovate on each of the features independently.
Computing

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.
Computing

Convert your PDFs into convenient Word documents with Adobe or a free option

PDF files are great, but few document types are as malleable as those specific to Microsoft Word. Here's how to convert a PDF file into a Word document, whether you prefer to use Adobe's software suite or a freemium alternative.
Computing

Nvidia’s next midrange card might be a GTX 1660 Ti, rumors suggest

Nvidia may be working on a non-RTX Turing graphics card called the 1660 Ti. Rumors suggest it will have around 20 percent fewer CUDA cores than the RTX 2060 and will lack ray tracing support.