Teenagehood or adolescence is viewed as “the age of storm and stress,” as also stated by G. S. Hall (1904), which examines three key aspects - conflict with parents, mood disruptions, and risk behavior. Teenagehood is a period of change, and it is important as the interplay of various catalysts determines if the child would transition into a mature or immature adult.
The term Adolescence comes from the Latin word adolescence, meaning “to grow” or “to grow to maturity,” elucidating the positive aspects of this amazing, progressive phase of life. Thus, adolescence refers to the development of puberty & physical growth spurts, cognitive maturity, crucial socio-emotional and sexual development. However, adapting to these changes all of a sudden can often lead to confusion or emotional turmoil. Hence, understanding these changes is vital for caregivers, parents, guardians, teachers. It will empower them to aid their child's growth and empower them towards positive progressiveness.
The adolescence phase ranges from 13-20 years of age and is divided into three phases - Early, Middle, and Late adolescence.
- Early adolescence or prepubescent stage marks the commencement of puberty, increase in body hair, breast & hip development, the onset of menstruation cycle in girls, facial hair in boys, makes the differences between boys & girls prominent. In addition, they develop cognitive and maturity through an increase in abstract thinking, physical growth spurts in height and weight. Moreover, they struggle with their sense of identity & get influenced by peer groups rather than parents. Hence, there is a shift from dependence on parents to finding themselves and a strong drive to achieve their independence.
- Middle adolescence is when puberty is usually completed. Physical growth slows down for girls and continues for boys. There is an increase in the capacity for abstract thinking and goal setting and moral reasoning. With the continued adjustment to changes in their body & drive for independence, their self-esteem, self-importance is usually impacted, with popularity among peers taking a front seat.
- In late adolescence, the females are usually fully developed, whereas the males continue to develop physically. In terms of cognition, they can think ideas through their reasoning, which becomes more logical, delay gratification, and continue interest in morality as it influences their judgments. There is a more stable sense of identity, a shift from self-importance to concern for others, and they reach a state of self-reliance. There is sexual maturity, and they are ready to develop intimate relationships.
Adolescence is a period that shows the transition between childhood & adulthood. Successful transition from childhood to adulthood results in an individual who is comfortable with their identity and knows what they want to do in the future. They are aware of their role in society and can develop healthy interpersonal and intimate relationships. Successfully transitioning in this stage requires support, guidance, care, encouragement from parents, guardians, and caregivers.
1. Sigismund Schlomo Freud is the father of Psychoanalytic psychology. His most well-known theory is the Psychosexual stages of Development which focus on personality development through five stages, i.e., oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital. The theory explains that the energy expresses through different body parts in each stage, which are known as ‘erogenous zones.'
The adolescent period (ages puberty to adult) comes under the “genital stage” as one in which an individual attains sexual maturity marked by developing a strong interest in the opposite sex. Freud believed that a teen could find the balance between the Id and Ego (the immediate gratification needs, urges, and demands of reality, social norms, respectively) at this stage. Through successful development in this stage, the person develops adult intimate relationships.
2. Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development suggests different stages on how children construct, acquire and use knowledge throughout their lifespan as they build a mental model of the world. Piaget puts adolescence in the "Formal Operational Stage" (ages 12 and above).
In this stage, the teen starts to think about abstract ideas, situations, and reason logically. Next, teens begin to think more about philosophical, ethical, social, moral issues for abstract and theoretical reasoning. Furthermore, they begin to use deductive logic, honing from general to specific information. Finally, they become capable of seeing multiple solutions to one problem.
3. Lawrence Kohlberg's theory of Moral Development emphasizes the idea of moral dilemmas. Kohlberg believed that, like cognitive development, moral development follows a series of stages - pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional.
Adolescents during the conventional stage make moral judgments. During their childhood, the decision-making was influenced by their parents, relatives, or society. But in adolescence, they start questioning authority and encounter multiple conflicting situations, which result in moral dilemmas.
Adolescence or teenage is a period subjugated to further evolution of the physical, sexual, emotional, cognitive, social foundational basis formed in childhood. One of the significant issues is the generation gap between every generation that transitions into the next phase of lifespan’s ladder, looking at the other stages with a predisposed perspective.
In the early primitive civilizations, puberty and adolescence were not considered distinct phases of lifespan. Furthermore, the child was considered an adult when capable of survival by self or capable of reproduction.
An essential part of the transition in this stage is pubertal changes. The term puberty has its origins in the Latin word “Pubertas,” which means “age of manhood.” As Aristotle emphasized, “for most of the female and male reproduction, sexuality is initiated. They start the transition into adulthood marked by physical as well as behavioral changes”.
In the current scenario, it has been observed that the children achieve these changes at an early age compared to their predecessors bringing a shift in the way teenage life is broadcasted in the current times. Moreover, the global scenario has led to a paradigm change from social indulgence on online platforms compared to earlier indulgence in offline platforms impacting the way adolescence progresses toward life and adulthood.
Another imperative aspect of this stage is the legal and social parameters that permit various facets. These facets attach roles, duties, and rights to an individual as a part of human society. The age for legal maturity is different across the world, as is mentioned below in table 1, projecting the various regional and cultural perspectives about becoming a responsible adult who can assume the roles, rights, and duties of a responsible citizen.
|Sr. No:-||Legal Age||Country|
|1||15 years||Yemen, Indonesia, Iran, and Myanmar.|
|2||16 years||Cambodia, Palestine, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, etc.|
|3||17 years||North Korea and Tajikistan.|
|4||18 years||Canada, Japan, India, Germany, Finland, etc..|
|5||19 years||Algeria, South Korea, Nebraska, United States, etc.|
|6||20 years||Japan, Taiwan, Thailand.|
|7||21 years||Bahrain, Madagascar, Kuwait, etc.|
In the current context, the availability of different sources of knowledge and social media platforms has empowered a teenager. However, there is a need for guidance to channelize this knowledge and awareness appropriately and healthily.
Adolescence is a phase similar to the element of water that can be transformed into different shapes, fit into a container or cut through a mountain depending on the way it’s channelized and the circumstances in which it is perpetuated.
1. Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is 18 years old and actively participates in spreading awareness about the societal impact on the environment. At an early age, Greta understood the importance of climate change, and she became a global face influencing the youth globally. In August 2018, Greta started the “school strike for climate,” guiding people from different age groups to take action for a better future by maintaining a balance with the environment.
This 18-year-old has Asperger’s syndrome (AS), which is a developmental disorder. She faced criticism for her speech, and many people attacked her personally, but she believes this condition to be a “superpower” for her. Having Asperger’s syndrome doesn't mean you can’t function correctly. In reality, it can be the opposite. She has also become an inspiration to people having Asperger's syndrome.
2. Red Gerard is an American snowboarder who won the 2018 Olympics when he was 17 years old. According to Gerard, there should be a proper plan when in the competition, which has helped him perform in every competition. He and his brother figured out the plan, and he started performing according to the plan. And this is how his life changed. Gerard had a particular approach while performing. He had a goal in his mind and always approached the competition to give his best and make his parents proud. On the Olympics day, he made everyone proud by giving the best performance and becoming the youngest male to win the US Olympics in ninety years.
3. Poorna Malavath, a girl at the age of 13 years, hailing from Pakala, a village in Nizamabad district, Telangana, achieved a world record of being the youngest Indian and female to climb the highest peak of Mt. Everest. At the age of 16, she ascended Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Russia and Europe. She climbed Mount Kilimanjaro at the age of 15 years & many other high mountains at such a young age. It shows that you can achieve anything no matter what your age, gender, or socio-economic background is. She had to struggle with these aspects as in the village she comes from, girls get married at a very young age without even getting educated.
In her biography, she mentioned that it's not only out of passion that she started mountaineering. Another reason that motivated her was to escape from early marriage. Due to her accomplishment, she broke this barrier with her family's support. She has gone on to pursue a course from the UK. This teen has managed to inspire many other children from her village and many other backward communities.