Friday, July 28, 2017

Book Review: Boys Adrift

Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men
According to Leonard Sax, a physician and psychologist, five factors influence boys to become unmotivated and underachieving young men. Chapters address changes in education, video games, medications for ADHD, endocrine disruptors (caused by plastics) and loss of positive role models.

This is a sobering read, because if what Sax says is true, these factors can turn boys into lazy young men who care little about succeeding in life and even less about helping others. And it may all start in Kindergarten where children now do worksheets and desk work rather than color and play as they did in earlier years.

Sax includes the results of studies relevant to these factors. For instance, a Harvard Medical School study reported that giving stimulant medications to juvenile laboratory animals resulted in those animals displaying a loss of drive when they grew up. There may be a similar effect for children, because these meds damage an area of the brain known as nucleus accumbens. This means that a boy could feel hungry but not be motivated to do anything about it.

Video games may affect the brain in similar ways. Sax is particularly disturbed by the violence of games such as Doom. In violent movies, a boy watches someone else commit the violence, but in video games, he himself inflicts death and destruction. To help parents, Sax includes questions to evaluate a child’s involvement.

The book’s final chapter, “Detox,” focuses on what parents might do to alleviate the results of each of these factors. He offers hope to those who find themselves dealing with unmotivated youth. An “Afterword” updates the book published by Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Extensive notes document his research, and a helpful index closes the 273-page book.

Many case studies from Sax’s files make this an interesting read for parents, grandparents and anyone who works with children. And his insights shed light on far more than these five factors in our ever-changing world.



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