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What is Adolescence?

Describe child or adolescent behaviours reported in the media and link these to developmental theories, learning styles and sociocultural influences on learning and development.

Adolescence can be defined as the transitional stage from childhood to adulthood i.e. the years between the ages 13 and 19. However, the psychological and physical changes that take place in adolescence can even start during preteen or tween years (age between 9 and 12). Adolescence can be referred to as the time of both discovery and disorientation (Psychology Today, 2018). This transitional period often leads to various issues in the lives of adolescents relating to self- identity and independence. They also face tough choices regarding schoolwork, drugs, sexuality, alcohol and social life. In other words, adolescence can be defined as the bodily transition of an individual marked by the start of puberty along with the respective changes in the capability to think multi- dimensionally and abstractly. Adolescence is that time in the life of a person where they move towards becoming independent with greater maturity and autonomy (World Health Organization, 2018). However, adolescents face various changes, issues and challenges in biological, social, psychological, cognitive, spiritual and moral sense.

Media has brought various behaviors of adolescents in consideration of people. It is generally found that children engage in physical confrontation occasionally. However, the severity and frequency of violent interactions may increase during adolescence. Media has highly publicized various stories of violence at school. They are even likely to be involved in violent acts outside school or at home. The factors contributing towards increased risk of violence include access to firearms, gang membership, poverty and substance use. There is also a linkage of violent behavior with gang membership. Adolescents generally form associations with 3 or more members ranging in age between 13 and 24. Such gangs adopt a specific style of clothing, identifying symbol and name that makes them different from others. Some gangs are also reported that require their prospective members to accomplish random acts of violence before granting membership to them.  Such gangs often get involved in the distribution of drug along with drug use, particularly heroin (Levy, 2018).  

Media has also reported that the bullying behavior of adolescents is prevalent in Australian schools. Bullying can be defined as the usage of force, coercion, threat or aggressively dominating others (Kuykendall, 2012). The reporting of this problem by media has resulted in increased awareness for it. The extensive media coverage provided to this social issue created a profound impact on the way of understanding of the communities and their manner of addressing the problem. The characteristics of bullying are more prevalent in boys and are not always demonstrated physically or verbally. It is also not always aggressive. Girls generally bully in a concealed manner by means of gossiping, exclusion and rumor creation also known as emotional or indirect bullying.  

Media and Adolescent Behaviors

With the advancement in technology, adolescents have started engaging in cyber bullying. The modes of cyber bullying include texting, social networking sites, messenger services and email.  The causes may include social, environmental and bystander factors.

Media also reports some disruptive behavioral disorders during adolescence. Attention- Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder which starts in childhood and persists into adolescence and adulthood. Adolescents suffering from difficulty in paying attention often suffer from learning disability and depression (Nagel, Guarnera & Reppucci, 2016).

Adolescents also show impulsive behavior due to their overwhelming emotions and are vulnerable to substance use such as alcohol, cigarettes, anabolic steroids and drugs and thereafter perform abusive acts. Also, the main change in their behavior reported by media include attraction towards opposite gender and becoming conscious about looks and figure (Bjorklund & Blasi, 2011). They are more likely to take risks than adults.   According to the behavioral decision- making theory, both the adults and adolescents weigh the consequences and potential rewards of an action. It is also observed that adolescents give more weightage to rewards, especially social rewards.

The involvement of adolescents in bullying affects them in a negative way. Various areas have been identified by the socio- ecological model of human development that are responsible for impacting the well- being and mental health of adolescents. Initially, the family life of the child, time at school, involvement with friends and exposure to the community play an important role in their development. Generalized factors such as social, economic, cultural and political factors also play a significant part in their development. The ability to learn, mental health and general happiness of the adolescent are likely to be affected in cases where the adolescent does not positively experience the components of the socio- ecological model.

The behaviors of the adolescents are linked with the developmental theories and can be used for the explanation of adolescent development. The Piaget’s theory of cognitive development in case of adolescent behaviors provide that the thinking of adolescents are more like a scientist which helps them in developing plans for solving various problems and systematically testing opinions. This stage also enables adolescents to understand the meaning if love, values and logical proofs. The egocentrism present in adolescents is the major factor that governs their thinking regarding the social matters.

The learning theory by Kolb provides that a single different learning style is preferred by every individual and that preferred style is influenced by various factors such as educational experiences, social environment or the basic cognitive structure of the individual. The learning styles may be diverging, assimilating, converging or accommodating. The adolescents with divergent learning style prefer working in groups and receiving personal feedback by listening with an open mind.  However, the adolescents with assimilating learning style show their interests in abstract concepts and ideas and are relatively less focused towards people. Practical uses of theories and ideas are easily found by adolescents with converging learning styles. Accommodating learning style is visible in the behavior of adolescents when they tend to rely on others for information than carry out their own analysis.

Disruptive Behavioral Disorders during Adolescence

Adolescent behaviors also have a link with the Vygotsky’s socio- cultural theory of learning. The mental development of adolescents including their language, thoughts and reasoning process are developed through the interaction with people and social relationships. Therefore, the development of adolescents is majorly influenced by the environment and culture in which they spend most of their time. The cognitive development of the adolescent is the result of dialectical process where the learning take place through problem solving experiences shared with people including siblings, parents, teachers or a peer. The intellectual development of an adolescent is also maximized when the instructions are directed towards the zone of proximal development. Zone of proximal development represents the difference o gap between the actual development of the adolescent with existing capabilities and the ability to learn at the potential developmental level under the guidance of a person who is more capable. The full development of adolescents is dependent upon the social interactions and the assistance from the adults (Kunnen, 2012).

Moreover, the dependence or independence portrayed by the behavior of the adolescents is often the result of the culture in which the adolescent is grown up. In other words, the culture which surround the adolescent have a great influence on the time taken to become independent. It is often believed by the scholars that most of the adolescent development take place outside the home and the culture of their family inspires their developmental roots resulting moral differences. Adolescents belonging from non- mainstream culture sometimes find difficulty in identifying themselves. Culture also has an influence on the adolescents by developing them as arrogant or timid personality (Verial, 2017).

The social influences on the learning and development of adolescents include the relationship with parents and peers (Crockett & Crouter, 2014). Arguments may arise between the parents and the adolescent on new issues of control acceptable clothing, curfew and right to privacy. Adolescents having good relationship with parents are less susceptible to risky behaviors such as drinking, smoking, fighting, etc.  Adolescents also have positive influences from their peers such as motivation for performing better. On the other hand, they can also have negative influences in the form of increased pressure from the peers for engaging in drug use, vandalism, drinking, stealing, etc. Therefore, unique belief systems are developed by adolescents through their interaction with familial, social and cultural environments (Lumen, 2018).

Adolescents face a variety of issues in their school and society.  The biological changes that occur during adolescence brings well- defined maturation event known as puberty. The release of the sexual hormones due to such biological changes results in affecting the emotions of the individual. Such frequent mood changes impact the relationships of the individual at school with friends and at home with parents and siblings and socially (Novak & Pelaez, 2004).

Learning Theories and Adolescent Behaviors

Adolescents are considered as egocentric. Also, at some time, they become self- conscious where they get impacted by the opinion of other people regarding them and at some other time, they do not care about what this world says. As soon as an individual crosses his childhood and enters into adolescence, he/she starts to live in their private world full of imaginations where they feel they are unbeatable and cannot be hurt by others (CTI Reviews, 2016). This often leads the adolescents towards believing that no- one is capable enough of understanding how they feel and what they want.  This is reflected in their behaviors when they show their lack of interest in others and prefer to stay alone most of the time. Their imaginations do not allow them to focus on their work which often leads them towards ruining them.  

Adolescents experience a process of individualization with the help of which they develop relative independence from the family relationships (Shumow, 2016). This process also weakens the ties with the people and objects which were earlier very important to that individual. Therefore, adolescents often suffer from stress and pressure due to the increased expectations from the society and for fulfilling their own dreams.

Adolescents often go through new experiences in their journey of self- discovery along with new familiarities with the biological and social changes. These experiences and changes can be both anxiety provoking and stressful (Lerner & Steinberg, 2009). They often suffer from decreased tolerance for change which sometimes creates difficulty for them in modulating their behaviors and becomes visible in their angry outbursts and mood swings.

Adolescents like to spend much of their time outside than spending with the family.  They prefer sharing their dating and social life experiences at school which makes them feel comfortable instead of sharing with their family members (Bergin & Bergin, 2018). Adolescent boys often get into fights at school, start bullying others, fall into bad company and perform impulsive acts of violence which can also result in serious after effects including death of an individual.

They suffer from confidence and self- esteem issues. They get conscious regarding their bodily appearance including their beauty, skin, figure and color which leads to a feeling of superiority or inferiority. They feel pressure from the sides of both the society and school regarding their low IQ and poor performance in academics. This sometimes lead them towards depression, stress, mood swings, anxiety related issues and eating disorders (Gongala, 2017).

Social and Cultural Influences on Adolescent Development


Adolescents suffer from a transitional stage where they experience a number of physical and psychological changes in their bodies. This report highlighted some common adolescent behaviors that have been reported by media including gang membership, violence, substance use, bullying, performing abusive acts and taking risks.  All these behaviors of adolescents have a linkage with the renowned developmental theories such as Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, learning styles and socio- cultural factors that influence the learning and development of adolescents. At the end, this report focuses on various issues experienced by adolescents in school and society including self- consciousness, bullying, confidence issues, etc. Therefore, it can be concluded that adolescence is a stage in the life of an individual where he/ she suffers from a variety of changes that brings a well- defined maturation event called puberty. These changes impact the day to day life of the adolescents and play an important role in defining their future


Bergin, C. C., & Bergin, D. A. (2018). Child and Adolescent Development in Your Classroom, Chronological Approach. Cengage Learning.

Bjorklund, D. F. & Blasi, C. H. (2011). Child and Adolescent Development: An Integrated Approach. Cengage Learning.

Crockett, L. J., & Crouter, A. C. (Eds.). (2014). Pathways through adolescence: Individual development in relation to social contexts. Psychology Press.

CTI Reviews. (2016). The Adolescent, Development, Relationships, and Culture: Psychology, Psychology. Cram101 Textbook Reviews. 

Gongala, S. (2017). 11 Common Problems Of Adolescence And Their Solutions. Retrieved February 27, 2018 from

Kunnen, S. E. (2012). A Dynamic Systems Approach to Adolescent Development. Psychology Press.

Kuykendall, S. (2012). Bullying. ABC-CLIO.

Lerner, R. M., & Steinberg, L. (Eds.). (2009). Handbook of adolescent psychology, volume 1: Individual bases of adolescent development (Vol. 1). John Wiley & Sons.

Levy, S. (2018). Behavioral Problems in Adolescents. Retrieved February 27, 2018 from

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Nagel, A. G., Guarnera, L. A., & Reppucci, N. D. (2016). Adolescent development, mental disorder, and decision making in delinquent youths.

Novak, G. & Pelaez, M. (2004). Child and Adolescent Development: A Behavioral Systems Approach. SAGE.

Psychology Today. (2018). Adolescence. Retrieved February 27, 2018 from

Shumow, L. (2016). TEACHING ABOUT FAMILY, NEIGHBORHOOD, AND COMMUNITY EFFECTS ON CHILD AND ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT. Challenges and Innovations in Educational Psychology Teaching and Learning, 273.

Verial, D. (2017). How Cultural Differences Influence Adolescent Development. Retrieved February 27, 2018 from

World Health Organization. (2018). Adolescent development. Retrieved February 27, 2018 from

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