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The weight gained during adolescence constitutes nearly half of one's adult body weight. The accelerated growth in different body parts happens at different times, but for all adolescents it has a fairly regular sequence. The first places to grow are the extremities—the head, hands and feet—followed by the arms and legs, then the torso and shoulders. During puberty, bones become harder and more brittle. At the conclusion of puberty, the ends of the long bones close during the process called epiphysis.
There can be ethnic differences in these skeletal changes. For example, in the United States of America, bone density increases significantly more among black than white adolescents, which might account for decreased likelihood of black women developing osteoporosis and having fewer bone fractures there. Another set of significant physical changes during puberty happen in bodily distribution of fat and muscle.
This process is different for females and males. Before puberty, there are nearly no sex differences in fat and muscle distribution; during puberty, boys grow muscle much faster than girls, although both sexes experience rapid muscle development.
In contrast, though both sexes experience an increase in body fat, the increase is much more significant for girls. Frequently, the increase in fat for girls happens in their years just before puberty. The ratio between muscle and fat among post-pubertal boys is around three to one, while for girls it is about five to four. This may help explain sex differences in athletic performance. Pubertal development also affects circulatory and respiratory systems as an adolescents' heart and lungs increase in both size and capacity.
These changes lead to increased strength and tolerance for exercise. Sex differences are apparent as males tend to develop "larger hearts and lungs, higher systolic blood pressure, a lower resting heart rate, a greater capacity for carrying oxygen to the blood, a greater power for neutralizing the chemical products of muscular exercise, higher blood hemoglobin and more red blood cells".
Despite some genetic sex differences, environmental factors play a large role in biological changes during adolescence. For example, girls tend to reduce their physical activity in preadolescence   and may receive inadequate nutrition from diets that often lack important nutrients, such as iron. Primary sex characteristics are those directly related to the sex organs. In males, the first stages of puberty involve growth of the testes and scrotum, followed by growth of the penis.
The first ejaculation of seminal fluid generally occurs about one year after the beginning of accelerated penis growth, although this is often determined culturally rather than biologically, since for many boys first ejaculation occurs as a result of masturbation. In females, changes in the primary sex characteristics involve growth of the uterus, vagina, and other aspects of the reproductive system. Menarche , the beginning of menstruation, is a relatively late development which follows a long series of hormonal changes.
Changes in secondary sex characteristics include every change that is not directly related to sexual reproduction. In males, these changes involve appearance of pubic, facial, and body hair, deepening of the voice, roughening of the skin around the upper arms and thighs, and increased development of the sweat glands. In females, secondary sex changes involve elevation of the breasts, widening of the hips, development of pubic and underarm hair, widening of the areolae, and elevation of the nipples.
The human brain is not fully developed by the time a person reaches puberty. Between the ages of 10 and 25, the brain undergoes changes that have important implications for behavior see Cognitive development below. However, the creases in the brain continue to become more complex until the late teens.
The biggest changes in the folds of the brain during this time occur in the parts of the cortex that process cognitive and emotional information. Over the course of adolescence, the amount of white matter in the brain increases linearly, while the amount of grey matter in the brain follows an inverted-U pattern.
However, this does not mean that the brain loses functionality; rather, it becomes more efficient due to increased myelination insulation of axons and the reduction of unused pathways. The first areas of the brain to be pruned are those involving primary functions, such as motor and sensory areas. The areas of the brain involved in more complex processes lose matter later in development.
These include the lateral and prefrontal cortices, among other regions. During adolescence, myelination and synaptic pruning in the prefrontal cortex increases, improving the efficiency of information processing, and neural connections between the prefrontal cortex and other regions of the brain are strengthened.
Specifically, developments in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex are important for controlling impulses and planning ahead, while development in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex is important for decision making.
Changes in the orbitofrontal cortex are important for evaluating rewards and risks. Three neurotransmitters that play important roles in adolescent brain development are glutamate , dopamine and serotonin.
Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter. During the synaptic pruning that occurs during adolescence, most of the neural connections that are pruned contain receptors for glutamate or other excitatory neurotransmitters. Dopamine is associated with pleasure and attuning to the environment during decision-making. During adolescence, dopamine levels in the limbic system increase and input of dopamine to the prefrontal cortex increases.
Serotonin is a neuromodulator involved in regulation of mood and behavior. Development in the limbic system plays an important role in determining rewards and punishments and processing emotional experience and social information. Changes in the levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin in the limbic system make adolescents more emotional and more responsive to rewards and stress. The corresponding increase in emotional variability also can increase adolescents' vulnerability.
The effect of serotonin is not limited to the limbic system: Several serotonin receptors have their gene expression change dramatically during adolescence, particularly in the human frontal and prefrontal cortex.
Adolescence is also a time for rapid cognitive development. This allows the individual to think and reason in a wider perspective. Biological changes in brain structure and connectivity within the brain interact with increased experience, knowledge, and changing social demands to produce rapid cognitive growth see Changes in the brain above. The age at which particular changes take place varies between individuals, but the changes discussed below begin at puberty or shortly after that and some skills continue to develop as the adolescent ages.
The dual systems model proposes a maturational imbalance between development of the socioemotional system and cognitive control systems in the brain that contribute to impulsivity and other behaviors characteristic of adolescence.
There are at least two major approaches to understanding cognitive change during adolescence. One is the constructivist view of cognitive development.
Based on the work of Piaget , it takes a quantitative, state-theory approach, hypothesizing that adolescents' cognitive improvement is relatively sudden and drastic. The second is the information-processing perspective , which derives from the study of artificial intelligence and attempts to explain cognitive development in terms of the growth of specific components of the thinking process. By the time individuals have reached age 15 or so, their basic thinking abilities are comparable to those of adults.
These improvements occur in five areas during adolescence:. Studies since indicate that the brain is not fully formed until the early twenties.
Adolescents' thinking is less bound to concrete events than that of children: One manifestation of the adolescent's increased facility with thinking about possibilities is the improvement of skill in deductive reasoning , which leads to the development of hypothetical thinking. This provides the ability to plan ahead, see the future consequences of an action and to provide alternative explanations of events.
It also makes adolescents more skilled debaters, as they can reason against a friend's or parent's assumptions. Adolescents also develop a more sophisticated understanding of probability.
The appearance of more systematic, abstract thinking is another notable aspect of cognitive development during adolescence. For example, adolescents find it easier than children to comprehend the sorts of higher-order abstract logic inherent in puns, proverbs, metaphors, and analogies.
Their increased facility permits them to appreciate the ways in which language can be used to convey multiple messages, such as satire, metaphor, and sarcasm. Children younger than age nine often cannot comprehend sarcasm at all. A third gain in cognitive ability involves thinking about thinking itself, a process referred to as metacognition.
It often involves monitoring one's own cognitive activity during the thinking process. Adolescents' improvements in knowledge of their own thinking patterns lead to better self-control and more effective studying. It is also relevant in social cognition, resulting in increased introspection , self-consciousness , and intellectualization in the sense of thought about one's own thoughts, rather than the Freudian definition as a defense mechanism. Adolescents are much better able than children to understand that people do not have complete control over their mental activity.
Being able to introspect may lead to two forms of adolescent egocentrism, which results in two distinct problems in thinking: These likely peak at age fifteen, along with self-consciousness in general.
Related to metacognition and abstract thought , perspective-taking involves a more sophisticated theory of mind. Compared to children, adolescents are more likely to question others' assertions, and less likely to accept facts as absolute truths.
Through experience outside the family circle, they learn that rules they were taught as absolute are in fact relativistic. They begin to differentiate between rules instituted out of common sense—not touching a hot stove—and those that are based on culturally-relative standards codes of etiquette, not dating until a certain age , a delineation that younger children do not make.
This can lead to a period of questioning authority in all domains. Wisdom , or the capacity for insight and judgment that is developed through experience,  increases between the ages of fourteen and twenty-five, then levels off. Thus, it is during the adolescence-adulthood transition that individuals acquire the type of wisdom that is associated with age.
Wisdom is not the same as intelligence: Because most injuries sustained by adolescents are related to risky behavior car crashes , alcohol, unprotected sex , a great deal of research has been done on the cognitive and emotional processes underlying adolescent risk-taking. In addressing this question, it is important to distinguish whether adolescents are more likely to engage in risky behaviors prevalence , whether they make risk-related decisions similarly or differently than adults cognitive processing perspective , or whether they use the same processes but value different things and thus arrive at different conclusions.
The behavioral decision-making theory proposes that adolescents and adults both weigh the potential rewards and consequences of an action. However, research has shown that adolescents seem to give more weight to rewards, particularly social rewards, than do adults. Research seems to favor the hypothesis that adolescents and adults think about risk in similar ways, but hold different values and thus come to different conclusions.
Some have argued that there may be evolutionary benefits to an increased propensity for risk-taking in adolescence. For example, without a willingness to take risks, teenagers would not have the motivation or confidence necessary to leave their family of origin.
In addition, from a population perspective, there is an advantage to having a group of individuals willing to take more risks and try new methods, counterbalancing the more conservative elements more typical of the received knowledge held by older adults. Risktaking may also have reproductive advantages: Research also indicates that baseline sensation seeking may affect risk-taking behavior throughout the lifespan.
Given the potential consequences, engaging in sexual behavior is somewhat risky, particularly for adolescents. Having unprotected sex, using poor birth control methods e. Some qualities of adolescents' lives that are often correlated with risky sexual behavior include higher rates of experienced abuse, lower rates of parental support and monitoring.
Related to their increased tendency for risk-taking, adolescents show impaired behavioral inhibition, including deficits in extinction learning. The formal study of adolescent psychology began with the publication of G.
Stanley Hall 's "Adolescence in ". Hall, who was the first president of the American Psychological Association , viewed adolescence primarily as a time of internal turmoil and upheaval sturm und drang. This understanding of youth was based on two then new ways of understanding human behavior: Darwin's evolutionary theory and Freud's psychodynamic theory.
He believed that adolescence was a representation of our human ancestors' phylogenetic shift from being primitive to being civilized. Hall's assertions stood relatively uncontested until the s when psychologists such as Erik Erikson and Anna Freud started to formulate their theories about adolescence. Freud believed that the psychological disturbances associated with youth were biologically based and culturally universal while Erikson focused on the dichotomy between identity formation and role fulfillment.
The less turbulent aspects of adolescence, such as peer relations and cultural influence, were left largely ignored until the s. From the '50s until the '80s, the focus of the field was mainly on describing patterns of behavior as opposed to explaining them.
The Oakland Growth Study, initiated by Harold Jones and Herbert Stolz in , aimed to study the physical, intellectual, and social development of children in the Oakland area. Data collection began in and continued until , allowing the researchers to gather longitudinal data on the individuals that extended past adolescence into adulthood.
Jean Macfarlane launched the Berkeley Guidance Study, which examined the development of children in terms of their socioeconomic and family backgrounds. Elder formulated several descriptive principles of adolescent development. The principle of historical time and place states that an individual's development is shaped by the period and location in which they grow up. The principle of the importance of timing in one's life refers to the different impact that life events have on development based on when in one's life they occur.
The idea of linked lives states that one's development is shaped by the interconnected network of relationships of which one is a part; and the principle of human agency asserts that one's life course is constructed via the choices and actions of an individual within the context of their historical period and social network.
In , the Society for Research on Adolescence SRA became the first official organization dedicated to the study of adolescent psychology. Some of the issues first addressed by this group include: Evolutionary biologists like Jeremy Griffith have drawn parallels between adolescent psychology and the developmental evolution of modern humans from hominid ancestors as a manifestation of ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny.
Identity development is a stage in the adolescent life cycle. During these years, adolescents are more open to 'trying on' different behaviours and appearances to discover who they are.
Developing and maintaining identity in adolescent years is a difficult task due to multiple factors such as family life, environment, and social status. The years of adolescence create a more conscientious group of young adults. Adolescents pay close attention and give more time and effort to their appearance as their body goes through changes. Unlike children, teens put forth an effort to look presentable Studies done by the American Psychological Association have shown that adolescents with a less privileged upbringing have a more difficult time developing their identity.
The idea of self-concept is known as the ability of a person to have opinions and beliefs that are defined confidently, consistent and stable. As a result, adolescents experience a significant shift from the simple, concrete, and global self-descriptions typical of young children; as children they defined themselves by physical traits whereas adolescents define themselves based on their values, thoughts, and opinions.
Adolescents can conceptualize multiple "possible selves" that they could become  and long-term possibilities and consequences of their choices. For many, these distinctions are uncomfortable, but they also appear to motivate achievement through behavior consistent with the ideal and distinct from the feared possible selves. Further distinctions in self-concept, called "differentiation," occur as the adolescent recognizes the contextual influences on their own behavior and the perceptions of others, and begin to qualify their traits when asked to describe themselves.
The recognition of inconsistent content in the self-concept is a common source of distress in these years see Cognitive dissonance ,  but this distress may benefit adolescents by encouraging structural development. Egocentrism in adolescents forms a self-conscious desire to feel important in their peer groups and enjoy social acceptance.
Everyone has a self-concept, whereas Erik Erikson argued that not everyone fully achieves identity. Erikson's theory of stages of development includes the identity crisis in which adolescents must explore different possibilities and integrate different parts of themselves before committing to their beliefs. He described the resolution of this process as a stage of "identity achievement" but also stressed that the identity challenge "is never fully resolved once and for all at one point in time".
Trial and error in matching both their perceived image and the image others respond to and see, allows for the adolescent to grasp an understanding of who they are. Just as fashion is evolving to influence adolescents so is the media. Researcher James Marcia developed the current method for testing an individual's progress along these stages. Answers are scored based on extent to which the individual has explored and the degree to which he has made commitments.
The result is classification of the individual into a identity diffusion in which all children begin, b Identity Foreclosure in which commitments are made without the exploration of alternatives, c Moratorium, or the process of exploration, or d Identity Achievement in which Moratorium has occurred and resulted in commitments.
Research since reveals self-examination beginning early in adolescence, but identity achievement rarely occurring before age An adolescent's environment plays a huge role in their identity development. It has been recently found that demographic patterns suggest that the transition to adulthood is now occurring over a longer span of years than was the case during the middle of the 20th century. Accordingly, youth, a period that spans late adolescence and early adulthood, has become a more prominent stage of the life course.
This therefore has caused various factors to become important during this development. All of these factors are affected by the environment an adolescent grows up in.
A child from a more privileged upbringing is exposed to more opportunities and better situations in general. An adolescent from an inner city or a crime-driven neighborhood is more likely to be exposed to an environment that can be detrimental to their development. Adolescence is a sensitive period in the development process, and exposure to the wrong things at that time can have a major effect on future decisions.
While children that grow up in nice suburban communities are not exposed to bad environments they are more likely to participate in activities that can benefit their identity and contribute to a more successful identity development. Sexual orientation has been defined as "an erotic inclination toward people of one or more genders, most often described as sexual or erotic attractions". Some theorists believe that there are many different possible developmental paths one could take, and that the specific path an individual follows may be determined by their sex, orientation, and when they reached the onset of puberty.
In , Troiden proposed a four-stage model for the development of homosexual sexual identity. The second stage, identity confusion, tends to occur a few years later. In this stage, the youth is overwhelmed by feelings of inner turmoil regarding their sexual orientation, and begins to engage sexual experiences with same-sex partners. In the third stage of identity assumption, which usually takes place a few years after the adolescent has left home, adolescents begin to come out to their family and close friends, and assumes a self-definition as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
Therefore, this model estimates that the process of coming out begins in childhood, and continues through the early to mid 20s. This model has been contested, and alternate ideas have been explored in recent years. Many adolescents may choose to come out during this period of their life once an identity has been formed; many others may go through a period of questioning or denial, which can include experimentation with both homosexual and heterosexual experiences. Peer pressure is a large factor when youth who are questioning their sexuality or gender identity are surrounded by heteronormative peers and can cause great distress due to a feeling of being different from everyone else.
While coming out can also foster better psychological adjustment, the risks associated are real. Indeed, coming out in the midst of a heteronormative peer environment often comes with the risk of ostracism, hurtful jokes, and even violence. The final major aspect of identity formation is self-esteem.
Self-esteem is defined as one's thoughts and feelings about one's self-concept and identity. When they fail to win friends' approval or couldn't find someone with whom to share common activities and common interests, in these cases, girls suffer from low self-esteem. In contrast, boys are more concerned with establishing and asserting their independence and defining their relation to authority. Due to the fact that both men and women happen to have a low self-esteem after ending a romantic relationship, they are prone to other symptoms that is caused by this state.
The relationships adolescents have with their peers, family, and members of their social sphere play a vital role in the social development of an adolescent. As an adolescent's social sphere develops rapidly as they distinguish the differences between friends and acquaintances, they often become heavily emotionally invested in friends. Adolescence is a critical period in social development because adolescents can be easily influenced by the people they develop close relationships with.
This is the first time individuals can truly make their own decisions, which also makes this a sensitive period. Relationships are vital in the social development of an adolescent due to the extreme influence peers can have over an individual. These relationships become significant because they begin to help the adolescent understand the concept of personalities, how they form and why a person has that specific type of personality. In other words, by comparing one person's personality characteristics to another's, we would be setting up the framework for creating a general theory of personality and, In social comparison we use reference groups, with respect to both psychological and identity development.
Research shows that relationships have the largest affect over the social development of an individual. Adolescence marks a rapid change in one's role within a family. Young children tend to assert themselves forcefully, but are unable to demonstrate much influence over family decisions until early adolescence,  when they are increasingly viewed by parents as equals. The adolescent faces the task of increasing independence while preserving a caring relationship with his or her parents.
Arguments often concern minor issues of control, such as curfew, acceptable clothing, and the adolescent's right to privacy ,   which adolescents may have previously viewed as issues over which their parents had complete authority.
Social media has also played an increasing role in adolescent and parent disagreements. While adolescents strive for their freedoms, the unknowns to parents of what their child is doing on social media sites is a challenging subject, due to the increasing amount of predators on social media sites. Many parents have very little knowledge of social networking sites in the first place and this further increases their mistrust. An important challenge for the parent—adolescent relationship is to understand how to enhance the opportunities of online communication while managing its risks.
Regarding their important life issues, most adolescents still share the same attitudes and values as their parents. During childhood , siblings are a source of conflict and frustration as well as a support system. In same-sex sibling pairs, intimacy increases during early adolescence, then remains stable. Mixed-sex siblings pairs act differently; siblings drift apart during early adolescent years, but experience an increase in intimacy starting at middle adolescence.
Siblings are able to act as peers, and may increase one another's sociability and feelings of self-worth. Older siblings can give guidance to younger siblings, although the impact of this can be either positive or negative depending on the activity of the older sibling. A potential important influence on adolescence is change of the family dynamic, specifically divorce. Custody disputes soon after a divorce often reflect a playing out of control battles and ambivalence between parents.
Divorce usually results in less contact between the adolescent and their noncustodial parent. However, most research suggests a negative effect on adolescence as well as later development.
A recent study found that, compared with peers who grow up in stable post-divorce families, children of divorce who experience additional family transitions during late adolescence, make less progress in their math and social studies performance over time. These negative effects include romantic relationships and conflict style, meaning as adults, they are more likely to use the styles of avoidance and competing in conflict management.
Despite changing family roles during adolescence, the home environment and parents are still important for the behaviors and choices of adolescents. A study conducted by Adalbjarnardottir and Blondal showed that adolescents at the age of 14 who identify their parents as authoritative figures are more likely to complete secondary education by the age of 22—as support and encouragement from an authoritative parent motivates the adolescence to complete schooling to avoid disappointing that parent.
Peer groups are essential to social and general development. Communication with peers increases significantly during adolescence and peer relationships become more intense than in other stages  and more influential to the teen, affecting both the decisions and choices being made. As children begin to bond with various people and create friendships, it later helps them when they are adolescent and sets up the framework for adolescence and peer groups.
Communication within peer groups allows adolescents to explore their feelings and identity as well as develop and evaluate their social skills. Peer groups offer members the opportunity to develop social skills such as empathy, sharing, and leadership. Adolescents choose peer groups based on characteristics similarly found in themselves.
Group norms and values are incorporated into an adolescent's own self-concept. Peer groups can have positive influences on an individual, such as on academic motivation and performance.
However, while peers may facilitate social development for one another they may also hinder it. Peers can have negative influences, such as encouraging experimentation with drugs, drinking, vandalism, and stealing through peer pressure. Adolescents tend to associate with "cliques" on a small scale and "crowds" on a larger scale. During early adolescence, adolescents often associate in cliques , exclusive, single-sex groups of peers with whom they are particularly close.
Despite the common [ according to whom? Within a clique of highly athletic male-peers, for example, the clique may create a stronger sense of fidelity and competition. Cliques also have become somewhat a "collective parent", i. On a larger scale, adolescents often associate with crowds , groups of individuals who share a common interest or activity. Often, crowd identities may be the basis for stereotyping young people, such as jocks or nerds.
In large, multi-ethnic high schools, there are often ethnically determined crowds. An important aspect of communication is the channel used. Channel , in this respect, refers to the form of communication, be it face-to-face, email, text message, phone or other.
Teens are heavy users of newer forms of communication such as text message and social-networking websites such as Facebook, especially when communicating with peers. Romantic relationships tend to increase in prevalence throughout adolescence. This constant increase in the likelihood of a long-term relationship can be explained by sexual maturation and the development of cognitive skills necessary to maintain a romantic bond e.
Overall, positive romantic relationships among adolescents can result in long-term benefits. High-quality romantic relationships are associated with higher commitment in early adulthood  and are positively associated with self-esteem, self-confidence, and social competence.
While most adolescents date people approximately their own age, boys typically date partners the same age or younger; girls typically date partners the same age or older. Some researchers are now focusing on learning about how adolescents view their own relationships and sexuality; they want to move away from a research point of view that focuses on the problems associated with adolescent sexuality. This means that private thoughts about the relationship as well as public recognition of the relationship were both important to the adolescents in the sample.
Sexual events such as sexual touching, sexual intercourse were less common than romantic events holding hands and social events being with one's partner in a group setting. The researchers state that these results are important because the results focus on the more positive aspects of adolescents and their social and romantic interactions rather than focusing on sexual behavior and its consequences.
Adolescence marks a time of sexual maturation, which manifests in social interactions as well. While adolescents may engage in casual sexual encounters often referred to as hookups , most sexual experience during this period of development takes place within romantic relationships.
From these social media encounters, a further relationship may begin. Among young adolescents, "heavy" sexual activity, marked by genital stimulation, is often associated with violence, depression, and poor relationship quality.
For older adolescents, though, sexual activity in the context of romantic relationships was actually correlated with lower levels of deviant behavior after controlling for genetic risks, as opposed to sex outside of a relationship hook-ups . Dating violence is fairly prevalent within adolescent relationships.
This reported aggression includes hitting, throwing things, or slaps, although most of this physical aggression does not result in a medical visit. Physical aggression in relationships tends to decline from high school through college and young adulthood. In heterosexual couples, there is no significant difference between the rates of male and female aggressors, unlike in adult relationships.
Adolescent girls with male partners who are older than them are at higher risk for adverse sexual health outcomes than their peers. Research suggests that the larger the partner age difference, the less relationship power the girls experience. Behavioral interventions such as developing relationship skills in identifying, preventing, and coping with controlling behaviors may be beneficial.
For condom use promotion, it is important to identify decision-making patterns within relationships and increase the power of the adolescent female in the relationship.
Recent research findings suggest that a substantial portion of young urban females are at high risk for being victims of multiple forms of IPV.
Practitioners diagnosing depression among urban minority teens should assess for both physical and non-physical forms of IPV, and early detection can help to identify youths in need of intervention and care. Therefore, screening should be a routine part of medical treatment for adolescents regardless of chief complaint. In contemporary society, adolescents also face some risks as their sexuality begins to transform.
One in four sexually active teenagers will contract an STI. Across the country, clinicians report rising diagnoses of herpes and human papillomavirus HPV , which can cause genital warts, and is now thought to affect 15 percent of the teen population. Girls 15 to 19 have higher rates of gonorrhea than any other age group. One-quarter of all new HIV cases occur in those under the age of They also believe students should be able to be tested for STIs.
Furthermore, teachers want to address such topics with their students. But, although 9 in 10 sex education instructors across the country believe that students should be taught about contraceptives in school, over one quarter report receiving explicit instructions from school boards and administrators not to do so. According to anthropologist Margaret Mead , the turmoil found in adolescence in Western society has a cultural rather than a physical cause; they reported that societies where young women engaged in free sexual activity had no such adolescent turmoil.
There are certain characteristics of adolescent development that are more rooted in culture than in human biology or cognitive structures. Culture has been defined as the "symbolic and behavioral inheritance received from the past that provides a community framework for what is valued". Furthermore, distinguishing characteristics of youth, including dress, music and other uses of media, employment, art, food and beverage choices, recreation, and language, all constitute a youth culture.
Many cultures are present within any given country and racial or socioeconomic group. Furthermore, to avoid ethnocentrism , researchers must be careful not to define the culture's role in adolescence in terms of their own cultural beliefs.
In Britain, teenagers first came to public attention during the Second World War, when there were fears of juvenile delinquency. The exaggerated moral panic among politicians and the older generation was typically belied by the growth in intergenerational cooperation between parents and children.
Many working-class parents, enjoying newfound economic security, eagerly took the opportunity to encourage their teens to enjoy more adventurous lives. The degree to which adolescents are perceived as autonomous beings varies widely by culture, as do the behaviors that represent this emerging autonomy. Psychologists have identified three main types of autonomy: Cultural differences are especially visible in this category because it concerns issues of dating, social time with peers, and time-management decisions.
A questionnaire called the teen timetable has been used to measure the age at which individuals believe adolescents should be able to engage in behaviors associated with autonomy. In sub-Saharan African youth, the notions of individuality and freedom may not be useful in understanding adolescent development.
Rather, African notions of childhood and adolescent development are relational and interdependent. The lifestyle of an adolescent in a given culture is profoundly shaped by the roles and responsibilities he or she is expected to assume.
The extent to which an adolescent is expected to share family responsibilities is one large determining factor in normative adolescent behavior. For instance, adolescents in certain cultures are expected to contribute significantly to household chores and responsibilities. However, specific household responsibilities for adolescents may vary by culture, family type, and adolescent age. In addition to the sharing of household chores, certain cultures expect adolescents to share in their family's financial responsibilities.
According to family economic and financial education specialists, adolescents develop sound money management skills through the practices of saving and spending money, as well as through planning ahead for future economic goals.
While adolescence is a time frequently marked by participation in the workforce, the number of adolescents in the workforce is much lower now than in years past as a result of increased accessibility and perceived importance of formal higher education. Furthermore, the amount of time adolescents spend on work and leisure activities varies greatly by culture as a result of cultural norms and expectations, as well as various socioeconomic factors.
American teenagers spend less time in school or working and more time on leisure activities—which include playing sports, socializing, and caring for their appearance—than do adolescents in many other countries. Time management, financial roles, and social responsibilities of adolescents are therefore closely connected with the education sector and processes of career development for adolescents, as well as to cultural norms and social expectations.
In many ways, adolescents' experiences with their assumed social roles and responsibilities determine the length and quality of their initial pathway into adult roles.
Adolescence is frequently characterized by a transformation of an adolescent's understanding of the world, the rational direction towards a life course, and the active seeking of new ideas rather than the unquestioning acceptance of adult authority. Many cultures define the transition into adultlike sexuality by specific biological or social milestones in an adolescent's life.
For example, menarche the first menstrual period of a female , or semenarche the first ejaculation of a male are frequent sexual defining points for many cultures. In addition to biological factors, an adolescent's sexual socialization is highly dependent upon whether their culture takes a restrictive or permissive attitude toward teen or premarital sexual activity.
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