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13: Adolescence - Physical Development

  • Page ID
    105560
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    learning objectives

    After this chapter, you should be able to:

    1. Explain the changes in physical growth and brain growth
    2. Compare and contrast different male and female changes that occur during puberty
    3. Discuss teenage pregnancy, birth control, and sexual health
    4. Summarize adolescent health: sleep, diet, and exercise
    5. Discuss drug and substance abuse
    6. Explain the prevalence, risk factors, and consequences of adolescent pregnancy and sexual health
    7. Describe several mental health issues for teens

    Adolescence is often defined as the period that begins with puberty and ends with the transition to adulthood. The commonly accepted beginning age for this period of development is age 12. When adolescence ends is harder to pin down. When does adulthood truly begin? Are we an adult at 18 years of age? Or 20? Or even older? Adolescence physical development has evolved historically, with evidence indicating that this stage is lengthening as individuals start puberty earlier and transition to adulthood later than in the past. Puberty today begins, on average, at age 10–11 years for girls and 11–12 years for boys. This average age of onset has decreased gradually over time since the 19th century by 3–4 months per decade, which has been attributed to a range of factors including better nutrition, obesity, increased father absence, and other environmental factors (Steinberg, 2013). Completion of formal education, financial independence from parents, marriage, and parenthood have all been markers of the end of adolescence and beginning of adulthood, and all of these transitions happen, on average, later now than in the past.

    • 13.1: Physical Growth
      The adolescent growth spurt is a rapid increase in an individual’s height and weight during puberty resulting from the simultaneous release of growth hormones, thyroid hormones, and androgens. Males experience their growth spurt about two years later than females. The accelerated growth in various body parts happens at different times, but for all adolescents it has a fairly regular sequence: the extremities grow first, followed by the arms and legs, and later the torso and shoulders.
    • 13.2: Brain Growth
      Brain Growth continues into the early 20s. The development of the frontal lobe, in particular, is important during this stage. Adolescents often engage in increased risk-taking behaviors and experience heightened emotions during puberty; this may be due to the fact that the frontal lobes of their brains—which are responsible for judgment, impulse control, and planning—are still maturing until early adulthood.
    • 13.3: Physical Changes in Adolescence
      Adolescence begins with the onset of puberty, a developmental period in which hormonal changes cause rapid physical alterations in the body, culminating in sexual maturity. Although the timing varies to some degree across cultures, the average age range for reaching puberty is between 9 and 14 years for girls and between 10 and 17 years for boys (Marshall & Tanner, 1986). This period of physical development of the adolescent age 9-13 is divided into two phases.
    • 13.4: Adolescent Health- Sleep, Diet, and Exercise
      According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) (2016), adolescents need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best. The most recent Sleep in America poll in 2006 indicated that adolescents between sixth and twelfth grade were not getting the recommended amount of sleep.
    • 13.5: Maintaining Emotional Health
      Emotional regulation is the ability to successfully control our emotions, which takes effort, but the ability to do so can have important positive health outcomes. Emotional responses such as the stress reaction are useful in warning us about potential danger and in mobilizing our response to it, so it is a good thing that we have them.
    • 13.6: Disorders and Syndromes
      A psychological disorder is an unusual, distressing, and dysfunctional pattern of thought, emotion, or behavior. Psychological disorders are often co-occurring or comorbid, meaning that a given person suffers from more than one disorder. Psychologists diagnose a disorder using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
    • 13.S: Summary

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    13: Adolescence - Physical Development is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Paris, Ricardo, Raymond, & Johnson.

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