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Developmental Characteristics During Adolescence

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Physical

  • Physical changes (e.g., growth spurt and skeletal and structural changes) are rapid and visually apparent
  • Considerable diversity in physical developmental rates occur due to genetics, environmental factors, and health issues
  • Distinct gender differences are evident in size, strength, and age of growth spurt (e.g., girls around age 12 and boys around age 14)
  • Health risks increase due to behavioral issues such as eating disorders, sexual experimentation, and drug use

Psychosocial

  • Friendships form and social interactions increase, which have the potential for boosting self-esteem and reducing anxiety
  • Distinct gender differences occur in socialization patterns (e.g., females tend to have smaller numbers of close friends and males tend to have larger "social networks")
  • Allegiance and affiliation shifts from parents and teachers to friends and peers
  • Social tasks and situations are handled without adult supervision and advice
  • Self-esteem changes due to adolescents' home and school lives
  • Preoccupations with the self lead to critical self-examination and, subsequently to the formation of self-perceptions
  • Argumentative and aggressive behaviors become evident and often disturb parents and teachers

Cognitive

  • Higher levels of cognitive functioning (e.g., reasoning and higher-level thought processes) develop
  • Moral and ethical choices are now possible and often guide behavior
  • Developmental diversity leads to varying abilities to think and reason
  • Cognitive ability is often affected by overall socialization
  • Perspectives about past, present, and future develop that allow enhanced perspectives of time
  • Language and overall verbalization skills increase, allowing improved communication in both school and home situations
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