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Chapter 11

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Gustavo Gottret

Chapter 11: Physical and Cognitive Development in Adolescence The Nature of Adolescence -adolescents now face dramatic biological changes, new experiences, and new developmental tasks -relationships with parents take a different form, moments with peers become more intimate, and dating occurs for the first time, as do sexual exploration and possibly intercourse -the adolescent's thoughts are more abstract and idealistic -biological changes trigger a heightened interest in body image -HALL: proposed the "storm-and-stress" view that adolescence is a turbulent time charged with conflict and mood swings -OFFER: adolescents displayed a health self-image -the adolescents were happy most of the time, enjoyed life, perceived themselves as able to exercise self-control, valued work and school, felt confident about their sexual selves, expressed positive feelings toward their families, and felt they had the capability to cope with life's stresses; this is NOT a "storm-and-stress" view of adolescence -public attitudes about adolescence emerge from a combination of personal experience and media portrayals, neither of which produces an objective picture of how normal adolescents actually develop -adults may portray today's teens as more troubled, less respectful, more self-centred, more assertive, and more adventurous -an adolescents' enthusiasm for trying new identities and enjoying moderate amounts of outrageous behaviour does not equate hostility toward parental and social standards -acting out and boundary testing are ways in which adolescents move toward integrating, rather than rejecting, parental values -ethical, cultural, gender, socio-economic, age, and lifestyle differences influence the actual life trajectory of every adolescent -today's adolescents are presented with a less stable environment than adolescents of the past -this may be due to the explosion of technology, the war on terrorism, economic pressures, higher divorce rates, youth crime, teen pregnancy, increased geographic mobility of families, etc. Physical Changes During Puberty -puberty is the most important marker of the beginning of adolescence, but it is not the same as adolescence; puberty ends long before adolescence does -the average age for puberty is 8 to 15 and may take from 1.5 to 6 years for completion -puberty is not a single, sudden event, but rather a period of rapid physical maturation involving hormonal and bodily changes that occur primarily during early adolescence Sexual Maturation, Height, and Weight -male pubertal characteristics typically develop in this order: increase in penis and testicle size, appearance of straight pubic hair, minor voice change, first ejaculation, appearance of kinky pubic hair, onset of maximum growth in height and weight, growth of hair in armpits, more detectable voice changes, and growth of facial hair -female pubertal characteristics typically develop in this order: breasts enlarge or pubic hair appears, hair appears in the armpits, growth in height and the hips become wider than the shoulders -menarche is a girl's first menstruation that comes rather late in the pubertal cycle -initially, menstrual cycles are highly irregular -during early adolescence, girls tend to outweigh boys, but by about age 14, boys begin to surpass girls -girls tend to be as tall or taller than boys of their age, but by the end of the middle school years, most boys have caught up or surpassed girls in height -the growth spurt occurs 2 years earlier for girls than boys and usually occur at 9 for girls and 11 for boys -the peak rate of change occurs at 11 for girls and 13 for boys -boys and girls who are shorter or taller than their peers before adolescence are likely to remain so during adolescence Hormonal Changes -hormones are powerful chemical substances secreted by the endocrine glands and carried through the body by the bloodstream -the endocrine system's role in puberty involves the interaction of the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the gonads -the hypothalamus is a structure in the higher portion of the brain that monitors eating, drinking, and sex -the pituitary gland is an important endocrine gland that controls growth and regulates other glands -the gonads are the sex glands (i.e.: testes in males and ovaries in females) -the pituitary gland sends a signal via gonadotropins to the appropriate gland to manufacture the hormone -through interaction with the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland detects when the optimal level of hormones is reached and responds by maintaining gonadotropin secretion -the pituitary gland also secretes hormones through interaction with the hypothalamus that directly lead to growth and skeletal maturation or produce growth effects through interaction with the thyroid gland -testosterone is a hormone associated in boys with the development of genitals, an increase in height, and a change in voice -estradiol is a hormone associated in girls with breast, uterine, and skeletal development -both hormones are present in the hormonal makeup of boys and girls, but one dominates more than the other, depending on the gender -the same influx of hormones contributes to psychological development -a higher concentration of testosterone was present in boys who rated themselves more socially competent -social factors are much better predictors of young adolescent girls' depression and anger than hormonal factors -behaviours and moods also affect hormones; stress, eating patterns, exercise, sexual activity, tension, and depression can activate or suppress various aspects of the hormonal system -the hormone-behaviour link is complex Timing and Variations in Puberty -in North America, children mature up to a year earlier than children in European countries -the basic genetic program for puberty is wired into the species, but nutrition, health, and other environmental factors also affect puberty's timing and makeup -harmonious relationships with parents, particularly the quality of fathers' investment in the family, are associated with later pubertal timing of the daughter -dysfunctional and harsh family relations have been linked with early onset of puberty -for boys, the pubertal sequence may begin as early as age 10 or as late as 13 and may end at 13 to 17 -the normal range is wide enough that one might complete the pubertal sequence before the other one has begun it -for girls, menarche is considered within the normal range if it appears between age 8 and 15 Body Image -adolescents become preoccupied with their bodies and develop individual images of what their bodies are like; preoccupation is especially prevalent during puberty, a time when adolescents are more dissatisfied with their bodies than in late adolescence Gender Differences in Body Image -in general, girls are less happy with their bodies and have more negative body images than boys throughout puberty -girls often become more dissatisfied with their bodies, probably because their body fat increases -early and late-maturing girls have difference perceptions of body image, depending on their age -early maturers are more likely to have a positive body image when they are young -late maturers are more likely to have a positive body image when they are older -boys become more satisfied as they move through puberty, probably because their muscle mass increases Appearance -adolescent males who evaluated their appearance more positively and who said appearance was very important to them were more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour -adolescent females who evaluated their appearance more positively were less likely to engage in risky behaviour Physical and Mental Health Problems -lower body satisfaction placed adolescents at risk for poorer overall health -female adolescents who had a negative body image were more likely to be depressed, anxiety prone, and suicidal Best and Worst Aspects of Being a Boy or Girl -the worst thing about being a girl was the biology of being female, which included matters as childbirth, PMS, periods, and breast cancer -the worst thing about being a boy were the aspects of discipline (i.e.: getting into trouble and being blamed more than girls even when they were not at fault) -the best thing about being a girl was appearance (i.e.: choosing clothes, hair styles, beauty treatments, etc.) -the best thing about being a boy was sports Teen Perspectives on Maturity -3 categories are involved in how teens define maturity and with whom teens prefer to spend their time : 1) Adultoids or Pseudo-Matures -25% of teens fell into the adultoids or pseudo-matures category -these teens expressed an older age as their desired age and described aspects of being "grown- up" in terms of pop culture activities, such as listening to music, fashion, etc. -teens in this group engage in more problem behaviour and feel older or more mature than they actually are -teens who focus on privileges, power, and status, as well as those who assume (or are burdened with) an inappropriate level of responsibility also fall under the category of adultoids -teens who focus on privileges and who may not have experienced pleasurable relationships with their caregivers are more likely to use drugs and alcohol as a way of obtaining pleasure -adultoids may be attracted to "living for the moment", especially if they perceive that more "legitimate" routes to maturity are not suitable to them 2) Immatures -30% of teens fall into this category -immatures are lagging behind their peers and demonstrate behaviour associated with younger children and report feeling younger than they are -they score low in psychological maturity and in problem behaviour 3) Matures -40% of teens fall into this category -involves being self-reliant, responsible, and concerned about the well-being of others as well as oneself -this group feels slightly older than they are and exercises appropriate decision-making skills -they balance work and play and get along easily with others -mature teens tend to prefer others who are like-minded Body Art -many youth engage in body modification (i.e.: tattoos or piercings) to be different and to make their identity unique -this may be a marker for risk-taking behaviour, especially when you have multiple piercings; others argue that body art is increasingly used to express individuality and self-expression, rather than rebellion The Brain -using fMRI brain scans, it was discovered that adolescents' brains undergo significant changes -the corpus callosum (where fibres connect the brain's left and right hemisphere) thickens in adolescence and improves the adolescent's ability to process information -the amygdala (controls emotions like anger) matures earlier than the prefrontal cortex (involved in reasoning, decision making, and self-control) -when adolescents (especially younger ones) processed emotional information, brain activity was more pronounced in the amygdala than in the frontal lobe; the reverse was true in adults -the amygdala is involved in processing information about emotion, while the frontal lobes are involved in higher-level reasoning and thinking -adolescents tend to respond with "gut" reactions to emotional stimuli, while adults are more likely to respond in rational, reasoned ways -these changes are linked to growth in the frontal lobe of the brain from adolescence to adulthood -the amygdala and hippocampus increase in volume during adolescence -both structures are involved in emotion and are part of the limbic system -changes in the limbic system may lead adolescents to seek novelty and to need higher levels of stimulation in order to experience pleasure -because of the relatively slow development of the prefrontal cortex, adolescents may lack the cognitive skills to effectively control their pleasure seeking and this may account for the increase in risk taking in adolescence -in general, adolescents' prefrontal cortex hasn't adequately developed to the point where they can control their strong emotions -scientists have yet to determine whether the brain changes come first or whether the brain changes are the result of experiences with peers, parents, and others Adolescent Sexuality -adolescence is characterized by a bridge between the asexual child and the sexual adult -there are many cultural and geographical differences in sexual exploration -healthy sexual development in adolescence is the outgrowth of healthy development from infancy through childhood -many behaviour patterns, including values related to gender roles and power, are formed well before adolescence -positive childhood experiences help develop the self-confidence, trust, and autonomy a young person needs to handle peer pressure and navigate the natural sexual feelings -a healthy growth may be inhibited by destructive sexual attitudes, media images, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, or neglect that may occur at this age -behaviour patterns influence choices and affect the risk of pregnancy and STIs -most adolescents have healthy sexual attitudes and engage in sexual practices that will not compromise their development Developing a Sexual Identity -developing a sexual identity involves developing new forms of intimacy, learning the skills to regulate sexual behaviour to avoid undesirable consequences, etc.; it is intertwined with other developing identities -an adolescent's sexual identity involves activities, interests, styles of behaviour, and an indication of sexual orientation -the majority of adolescents with same-sex attractions also experience some degree of other-sex attractions -the diversity in levels of anxiety, arousal, and sexual activity varies widely -a common belief is that most gays and lesbians quietly struggle with same-sex attractions in childhood, do not engage in heterosexual dating, and gradually recognize that they are gay or lesbian -many youth follow this pattern, but others do not -a harmful aspect of the stigmatization of homosexuality is the self-devaluation that can become internalized by gays, lesbians, etc. -a common form of self-devaluation is called passing, which is the process of hiding one's true sexual identity -many gay and lesbian youth "pass" until they feel it is safe to come out; coming out is more likely to occur in college or university -overall, gays and lesbians have diverse patterns of initial attraction, often have bisexual attractions, and may have physical or emotional attraction to same-sex individuals but do not fall in love with them The Timing of Adolescent Sexual Behaviours -the timing of sexual initiation varies by age, gender, and jurisdiction toward sexual activity -the percentage of teens between 15 and 10 who reported having sexual intercourse dropped to 43% -the highest rate was in Quebec with 58% -teens who chose not to have sex report doing so for a variety of reasons: the time was not right for them, self-respect, religious reasons, health risks and not being in love -those who do engage in sexual activity report that the time was right for them and that they were in a serious relationship that would lead to marriage; peer pressure, alcohol, and drugs were also part of the mix -28% regretted their decision to have sex -many adolescents are not emotionally prepared to handle sexual experiences, especially in early adolescence -early sexual activity is linked with risky behaviours such as drug use, delinquency, and school- related problems -early sexual intercourse and affiliation with deviant peers were linked to substance use disorders in emerging adulthood -adolescents who engage in sex before age 16 and experience a number of partners over time are the least effective users of contraception and are at risk for early, unintended pregnancy and for STIs -not feeling close to their parents, having low self-esteem, and watching television extensively were linked to adolescents being sexually active at 15 years of age Risk Factors and Sexual Problems Dating Violence -the rate of dating violence is highest in high-school -high school females are most vulnerable to rape or sexual harassment -physical assault, discrimination and harassment, and sexual gender issues are 3 of the top 4 factors impacting their personal safety Contraceptive Use -young people encounters risks such as unintended and unwanted pregnancies, as well as STIs -both of these risks can be reduced significantly if contraception is used -adolescents who engage in sex before 16 and experience a number of partners over time are the least effective users of contraception, and are at risk for early, unintended pregnancy and for STIs -many sexually active adolescents still do not use contraceptives, or use them inconsistently -gay and lesbian youth still face the risk of STIs Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) -STIs are contracted primarily through sexual contact, which is not limited to sexual intercourse; oral-genital and anal-genital contact can also transmit STIs and STDs -in a single act of unprotected sex with an infected partner, a girl has a 1% chance of getting HIV, 30% chance of acquiring genital herpes, and a 50% chance of contracting gonorrhea -chlamydia is more common among adolescents than among young adults Human Papillomavirus (HPV) -this is one of the most common STIs -there are over 100 types of HPV and they can cause ano-genital warts and cancer -the virus is transmitted by oral, vaginal, and anal sex, as well as by intimate skin-to-skin contact -the vaccine protects females from 4 of the most common types of HPV; it is best to start the vaccine before the onset of sexual activity -the vaccine has no impact on existing infections or existing precancerous conditions Adolescent Pregnancy and Health -the health problems associated with adolescent pregnancies are serious and affect the mother and the baby -the young mother is at risk for anemia, hypertension, renal disease, and depressive disorders -infants born to adolescent mothers are more likely to have low birth weights, as well as neurological problems and childhood illnesses Rates of Adolescent Pregnancy in Canada -the rates of teen pregnancies continues to decline everywhere in Canada except in Nunavut, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba -the average number abortions has decreased -the number of live still births has decreased -the rate of pregnancy among older teens and young adults is greater compared to younger teens -while most adolescent pregnancies are unplanned, this is not true for many of the pregnancies that occur among 18 and 19 year olds -the economic consequences of teenage pregnancy include curtailed educational opportunities and limited employment prospects Adolescent Pregnancy: Global Comparisons -countries like France, Sweden, Japan, Norway, Denmark, and Finland have rates that are lower than Canada -the UK and US have higher pregnancy rates ; the rate in the US doubles that of Canada -in many African, Asian, and South Asian countries, young woman are married and have their first child by their late teens Consequences of Adolescent Pregnancy -factors of poverty are related to education and an individual's outlook for her future -adolescent mothers often drop out of school -although many resume their education later, breaking the cycle of poverty is difficult, and they generally do not catch up economically with women who postpone childbearing Reducing Adolescent Pregnancy -recommendations for reducing the high rate of adolescent pregnancy include: 1) sex education and family planning 2) access to contraceptive methods 3) the life options approach 4) abstinence, especially for young adults 5) broad community involvement and support -the Sheway Health Centre's pregnancy outreach program provides both emotional support and educational programs to pregnant women -teens most at risk include those: -who are experiencing family problems -whose mothers were adolescent mothers -who undergo early puberty -who have been sexually abused -who have frequent absenteeism and or lack vocational goals -who have siblings who were pregnant during adolescence -who use alcohol, drugs, and tobacco -who live in group homes, detention centres, or on the street Adolescent Health Problems and Wellness -good nutrition, exercise, and adequate sleep are the foundations of good health -many behaviours linked to poor health habits and early death in adults begin during adolescence -the early formation of health behaviour patterns not only have immediate health benefits, but also help in adulthood to delay or prevent disability and mortality from heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer Nutrition and Exercise -exercise and good nutrition are proven ingredients for health and intellectual performance -there are link to fitness and active living with positive academic performance, improved brain activity and memory, increased self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-image -young people who are engaged in physical fitness activities have reduced behavioural problems -young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and those with disabilities are disadvantaged either by the costs of sports programs or access to them and miss out on the positive benefits -parents may be the most effective role models for children and teens in terms of participating in healthy amounts of exercise -nutrition is essential to good health at all ages, but the adolescent body is undergoing so many changes that nutrition is particularly important Sleep Patterns and Circadian Rhythms -sleep patterns influence the hours during which adolescents learn most effectively in school -academic achievement and social competence are significantly compromised by sleep problems in adolescents -a circadian rhythm refers to behavioural, physical, and mental changes that occur over roughly 24 hours -circadian rhythms can change sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature, and other bodily functions such as elimination and hunger -older adolescents tend to be sleepier during the day than younger adolescents -adolescent's biological clocks undergo a shift as they get older, delaying their period of wakefulness by about one hour -a delay in the release of melatonin seems to underlie this shift; melatonin is secreted at about 9:30 in younger adolescents and an hour later in older adolescents Eating Disorders -the number of adolescents who are overweight and getting insufficient exercise is increasing -obesity, hypertension, and diabetes rates in children is increasing, as well as fast food consumption and screen time -27% of girls between 12 and 18 have disordered eating behaviours (i.e.: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and obesity) -disordered eating behaviours increase as teens get older and are associated with increased risk of smoking, alcohol and drug use, depression, and suicide -factors related to adolescent eating disorders include: 1) Body Image -in general, adolescents are dissatisfied with their bodies (males want to increase their upper body and females want to decrease their overall size) -low self-esteem and social support, weight-related teasing, and pressure to lose weight were linked to adolescents' negative body image -girls who felt negatively about their bodies in early adolescence were more likely to develop eating disorders 2) Parenting -adolescents who report observing more healthy eating patterns and exercise by their parents h
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