Inside the Teenage Brain

Moody, risk-taking, depressed, rude, impulsive, distant...however we think of adolescents, neuroscience is now coming up with reasons to explain their behavior by tracing it to the brain. Read on about teenagers' transition to adulthood, experiences of bullying, marijuana use, and disorders du jour.

The Choking Game Is Not Just a Movie

Hundreds of children have died as a result of choking themselves to get high.

Based on the young adult novel Choke by Diana Lopez, Lifetime will be airing the movie “The Choking Game” this month, starring Freya Tingley (Jersey Boys, Once Upon a Time) who plays Taryn, a 17-year-old senior who feels like the only girl in the world with no control over her own life. Her biggest dream is to escape the pressures of her home and school ife. Like most teens, she wants to be somebody special and take control. 

Her helicoper mom, played brilliantly by former Frazier star Peri Gilpin, will give you the chills at her overinvolvement in her daughter's life.  

When Taryn walks into the school bathroom and finds a girl she’s never seen before splayed out on the floor, unconscious, she shakes her awake. The new girl Nina, (Alex Steele, DeGrassi: The Next Generation) a senior at the school, laughs and tells her she was just “flying.” Nina takes Taryn under her wing and tells her about The Choking Game.  It was huge at her last school; a cheap, quick, legal and easy high. Taryn experiments with “the game” and she quickly gets addicted to the adrenalin rush, giving her the self-confidence she had been lacking. At first her life seems to be getting better. 

She goes after the “it-guy,” Ryder (Mitch Ainley) and tries to fit in with the popular crowd.  However, slowly but surely the “game” begins to affect her grades, her ability to join track team and her friendship with Elena. At home, her mother tries to help her after sensing that something is seriously wrong and even Ryder tells Taryn she’s changed…and not in a good way. And when Nina ultimately takes the “game” too far, Taryn learns a lesson she’ll never forget. 

The Choking Game, premieres on Saturday, July 26 (8pm ET/PT) on Lifetime.

When I contacted producer and director, Lane Shefter Bishop

Producter/Director of The Choking Game, Lane Shefter Bishop
about the film, she told me how social media increases the pressure on kids today, giving them a sense that self-harm is somehow popular. 

"While social media obviously has positive aspects," Lane told me, "it can also be a time waster and doesn’t help kids develop in the same way they would if they were interacting in person with their peers.  In terms of The Choking Game, social media unfortunately makes the choking seem cooler because it appears as if “everyone is doing it.” 

The solution? Listen to your kids. Talk less. Hear more. Give them a sense of safety and a way out from the daily pressures of our 24/7 world. Show them nature. Instill in them a bigger picture than having to perform all the time. Watch this movie with them. Let them know you understand. Allowing them to be who they are–and are meant to be–is more than enough. 

Some statistics:

  • 1 in 16 kids surveyed in Oregon have tried The Choking Game 
  • Since May 2011, 411 people in the U.S. have died from playing The Choking Game.
  • The CDC estimates that 800 to 1,000 children between the ages of 10 through 19 die every year from playing the game. 
  • 86 percent of parents report not having known about the game prior to their child's involvement
  • 74 percent of fatalities caused by the game occur with an adult in the vicinity

 

Inside the Teenage Brain