Skip to main content
- Last updated
Save as PDF
- 7.1: Introduction to Adolescence
- Adolescence is a period that begins with puberty and ends with the transition to adulthood. Adolescence 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. Completion of formal education, financial independence from parents, marriage, and parenthood have all been markers of the end of adolescence and beginning of adulthood, which happen, on average, later now than in the past.
- 7.2: Physical Development
- While the sequence of physical changes in puberty is predictable, the onset and pace of puberty vary widely. During this time, primary and secondary sexual characteristics develop and mature. During puberty, both sexes experience a rapid increase in height (i.e., growth spurt). Adolescents engage in increased risk-taking behaviors and emotional outbursts possibly because the frontal lobes of their brains are still developing.
- 7.3: Cognitive Development
- During adolescence, teenagers move beyond concrete thinking and become capable of abstract thought. Teen thinking is also characterized by the ability to consider multiple points of view, imagine hypothetical situations, debate ideas and opinions (e.g., politics, religion, and justice), and form new ideas. In addition, it’s not uncommon for adolescents to question authority or challenge established societal norms.
- 7.4: Social Development
- As children become adolescents, they usually begin spending more time with their peers and less time with their families, and these peer interactions are increasingly unsupervised by adults. Children’s notions of friendship often focus on shared activities, whereas adolescents’ notions of friendship increasingly focus on intimate exchanges of thoughts and feelings. One of the key changes during adolescence involves a renegotiation of parent–child relationships.
- Lecture: Adolescence
- Slideshow: Adolescence