Narrator: This is Science Today. Parents play a big part when it comes to their teenagers taking risks. Yet psychiatrist Lynn Ponton of the University of California, San Francisco says for centuries, adolescents have been given a bad rap when it comes to risk taking.
Ponton: A lot of times, it's mischaracterized as adolescent rebellion. That they're angry with their Mom and Dad, they want to fight back, get back at them and do it differently. That's not actually true, that most of the time they say over and over again - Mom or Dad, it's about me, I want to do this to define myself. So that pull, that drive to develop their identity is what I call healthy risk taking.
Narrator: Ponton says parents should be aware of their own behavior.
Ponton: Our teens really model after how we take our risk. Whether we wear a seatbelt when we drive them to school in the morning. Whether or not we're still smoking cigarettes. So I think parents can look at their own risk taking and really think about how to revamp that or at least how to talk with their teen about it.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.