Adolescence and behaviors

Content

Definition

Definition

Adolescence, from the Latin adolescre it means to grow.

This term refers to the psychological and physiological aspects that characterize the age of transition from childhood to adulthood, or rather the completion of the psychic and physical development of the individual who acquires the skills and requirements to assume the responsibilities of an adult.

Physical changes

Physical changes

The period of sexual maturation (puberty) and adolescence are characterized by physical, neurohormonal and psychic transformations through which the body of a child becomes an adult body capable of reproducing itself. During this phase the activity of the sexual glands begins. boys and girls before puberty are limited to the genital system.

During puberty, however, other differences develop, which include:

for girls

  • beginning of the menstrual cycle
  • growth of axillary hair and pubic hair

for the guys

  • voice modification (gets deeper)
  • growth of pubic and facial hair
  • erections

Both have rapid physical growth. By the age of 17, they may already be young men and women, taller and more robust than their parents and capable of having children themselves.

The speed of these changes can cause some teens to be apprehensive about the transformation in their appearance. Not knowing that this process varies based on individual characteristics (for example, gender) and external factors (nutrition), they may feel concerned, especially if such changes occur earlier or later than their peers.

In adolescence, alongside radical physical changes, the capacity for introspection is also accentuated: the comparison with peers of the same age becomes more intense and everyone tends to compare himself with a physical model considered ideal. Many teenagers feel unhappy with their outward appearance, tend not to accept themselves, even for no reason, and feel they are not liked by others either.

Neurodevelopment

Neurodevelopment

Important developments occur in brain cells during adolescence, often also linked to hormonal changes.

The main changes concern:

  • limbic system, area responsible for the processing of pleasure, emotional responses and sleep regulation
  • prefrontal cortex, the area of ​​the brain responsible for the so-called executive functions: decision making, organization, impulse control and future planning

Changes in the prefrontal cortex occur later in adolescence than those in the limbic system.

Psychological and social changes

Psychological and social changes

In addition to hormonal changes and neurological development, during adolescence there are also changes in psychosocial behaviors and emotions thanks to the increasing capacities of attention, reasoning, memory and language (cognitive and intellectual abilities).

In fact, during the second decade of life, adolescents develop greater reasoning skills, follow logical and moral thinking, become capable of abstract thinking and formulating judgments.

Most boys enter adolescence still perceiving the world around them in concrete terms: things are totally right or wrong, great or terrible. Boys rarely project themselves beyond the present, which explains the inability of some of them. them to be able to imagine the long-term consequences of their actions.

In late adolescence, many young people learn to analyze situations in more detail, to formulate ideas, to project themselves into the future. They begin to build the reference values ​​that will guide their actions. They try to identify their own scale of values ​​and their own ethical sense. This path takes place through meeting other individuals, alternatives to parents, bearers of reference models from which to absorb "new material" useful for building the values ​​that will guide their actions. To become new models to follow are friends, teachers, private social workers, parish priests, sports coaches, masters of musical instruments, etc.

Social affirmation is very important during adolescence. The adolescent learns to manage relationships with other children more effectively, begins to establish the first mature affective relationships. A significant role is played by the school, which represents one of the most significant experiences that children have in recent years. It is the place where one has the opportunity to learn and improve knowledge. The choice of the type of school is indicative of the future life project that the adolescent-student intends to undertake and which will bring him closer to the world of adults.

Health and risk behaviors

Health and risk behaviors

Adolescence represents an important phase of development for the consolidation of lifestyles and health-related behaviors. The promotion of healthy activities in this period is very important given the frequent possibility of risky behaviors that could also have repercussions in the lifetime.

The consequences on health can be immediate, as in the case of dangerous driving, or postponed over time, as in the case of eating disorders, risky sexual behaviors, tobacco smoking, drug use and "alcohol abuse (read the Hoax).

The search for new and strong sensations reveal how much the component relating to challenge and self-experimentation attracts the adolescent. These behaviors have a meaning and a function. They allow the boy or girl to test their skills, levels of autonomy and control achieved and to experiment with new styles of behavior.

Risk-taking and experimentation help adolescents achieve independence, maturity and build their own identity. On the other hand, however, they could lead to behaviors that are extremely harmful to their own and others' health. (Video)

Internet, resource or danger?

Internet, resource or danger?

Today's teenagers are often referred to as "multitasking generation", Born and raised in a" digital era that has introduced new forms of social relationships. Digitization is rampant, not only in homes, but also in schools where technology is complemented or replaced by traditional learning tools.

International studies indicate how the use of technology can become problematic in a certain percentage of children, inducing a real addiction to the internet, games or social networks to the detriment of real life, school and relationships. This favors the risk of isolation in a period in which the personality is in a phase of consolidation.

The network, chats, blogs, communities, social networks are places frequented by many young people. New applications continue to emerge, new groups, new ways of communicating which, at times, make anonymity, speed of diffusion, the possibility of not leaving traces and not physically exposing oneself, fertile ground for non-transparent communication and, in any case, removed from the control of adults. The use of the Internet, not mediated by competent adults, can subject the new generations to potential dangers. It becomes necessary for those who have responsibility for minors to acquire the appropriate skills and be able to manage and prevent the risks that could intervene on the network.

Policy and programs

Policy and programs

Public health has among its priorities the protection of the first stages of life: childhood and adolescence. In particular, it is proposed to "educate young people in the promotion of health, physical activity, appropriate behaviors and lifestyles in the field of eating habits, the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection, the prevention of drug addiction and alcoholism, responsible procreation, soliciting the contribution of the school, also activating interventions, in particular in family counseling centers (structures which in the past, even recently, have considerably helped local and national health strategies and which need a renewed impulse) and in the spaces intended for adolescents to prevent and fight the ill-treatment, abuse and exploitation of minors and the prevention of road and domestic accidents ".

Bibliography

Bibliography

Mancini E. Adolescence and health.A pedagogical look. Training & Teaching. 2011; 9

World Health Organozation (WHO). Adolescent development (English)

InForma adolescence. Teens on the net

Autonomous Province Council of Trento. Media and minors. Social policies for a conscious use of old and new media technologies. 2013

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