Adolescence occupies an intermediate position between childhood and adulthood. There are changes at the physiological level, cognitive abilities, intellect, and emotional-volitional sphere are actively developing. Relationships with adults and peers are built differently.
Development of cognitive abilities
The younger adolescence (11-12 years old) is characterized by an increase in cognitive activity and the expansion of cognitive interests. Under the influence of training, the assimilation of more generalized knowledge, and the fundamentals of the sciences, higher mental functions are gradually transformed into well-organized, arbitrarily controlled processes. Perception becomes a selective, purposeful, analytical-synthetic activity. All the main parameters of attention improve qualitatively: volume, stability, intensity, the possibility of distribution, and switching. Memory is internally mediated by logical operations; memorization and reproduction acquire a semantic character. The amount of memory is increasing.
By the age of 13-15, the processes of thinking are gradually rebuilt – operating with specific ideas is replaced by theoretical thinking. Theoretical discursive (reasoning) thinking is based on the ability to operate with concepts, compare them, to move from one judgment to another in the course of thinking. In connection with the development of independent thinking, the transition to initiative cognitive activity, and individual differences in intellectual activity are intensified.
In the period from 17 to 19 years old, adolescents improve their command of complex intellectual operations of analysis and synthesis, theoretical generalization and abstraction, argumentation and proof. For boys and girls, the establishment of cause-and-effect relationships, systematic, stable, critical thinking, and independent creative activity become characteristic. There is a tendency to a generalized understanding of the world, to a holistic assessment of certain phenomena of reality.
The intelligence of a teenager already allows the formation of ideas about the past and the future, and awareness of the difference between the past, present, and future. The ability to plan and foresee the future appears. What is new is the discovery of the finitude of existence. This causes anxiety and fear and can create the prerequisites for going into religion and various sects.
Interest in school and learning among high school students, compared with younger students, is noticeably increasing since learning acquires a direct life meaning associated with the future. The need for self-acquisition of knowledge is growing, cognitive interests are acquiring a broad, stable, and effective character, and a conscious attitude towards work and learning is growing.
Sense of maturity and imitation
At the beginning of adolescence, there is a desire to be like the elders, and a sense of adulthood appears. Children want to be treated like adults and strive to acquire the qualities of an adult. From the age of 12–13, children begin to copy the behavior and appearance of significant adults or older peers (vocabulary, pastime, hobbies, jewelry, hairstyles, cosmetics, etc.).
For boys, the object of imitation is people who behave like “real men”: they have willpower, endurance, courage, courage, endurance, and are loyal to friendship. Therefore, boys at the age of 12–13 begin to pay more attention to their physical data: they enroll in sports sections, and develop strength and endurance. Girls tend to imitate those who look like a “real woman”: attractive, charming, and popular with others. They begin to pay more attention to clothes, and cosmetics and master the techniques of coquetry.
In order to gain value both in their own eyes and in the eyes of their peers, adolescents tend to have certain things (for example, a mobile phone, a tablet computer, clothes and shoes of a certain style), the presence of which gives a certain status, means belonging to a certain group. Careless and all the more harsh statements about the appearance, things, manners, mental and other abilities of adolescents can deeply offend them. Teenagers are touchy.
The appearance of sensitivity to the opinions of others about appearance, knowledge, and abilities is associated with the development of self-awareness at this age. They want to look their best and make a good impression. At the same time, demonstrativeness, outward rebelliousness, and the desire to free oneself from the guardianship and control of adults are noted in the behavior of adolescents. They can defiantly break the rules of behavior, discuss the words or behavior of people in a not entirely correct way, and defend their point of view, even if they are not entirely sure of its correctness.
At the same time, adolescents have a need for trusted communication. They want to be heard, they need to have their opinion respected. They are very worried when they are interrupted without listening to the end.
Communication with peers and their influence
In the period from 10 to 15 years, the leading activity of adolescents is communication with peers. It is in their community that the main need of this age period is realized – to receive recognition of one’s personality, to find one’s place in society, to be “significant”. Teenagers are actively looking for friends, sorting things out, change companies. The dynamics of motives for communicating with peers change every two years: at 10–11 years old, there is a strong desire to be among peers, to do something together; the motive to take a certain place in the group of peers prevails at 12-13 years old; the desire for autonomy and the search for recognition of the value of one’s own personality is actualized at the age of 14–15.
Adolescents strive to be accepted by peers who, in their opinion, have more significant qualities. To achieve this, they sometimes embellish their “exploits”, and this can apply to both positive and negative actions; there is a desire for outrageousness. The influence of peers on the behavior of adolescents is very high. And if a teenager has low self-esteem, he or she may not express his point of view if it disagrees with the opinion of the group, and painfully perceive the loss of authority in the group. Some teenagers who do not have their own opinion and do not have the skills of independent decision-making turn out to be “guided” and commit acts, sometimes illegal, “in the company” with others who are stronger psychologically and physically.
Since teenagers are highly emotional, it seems to them that they can cope with any problem. Therefore, they are prone to risky behavior. At the same time, they still do not know how to adequately assess their strength and do not think about their own safety. They want to “experience everything, go through everything.” A teenager is attracted to everything that was previously banned. Many of the “curiosity” try alcohol, and drugs, and start smoking.
Emancipation from adults
At the age of 12–14, they experience an age crisis, begin to make increased demands on themselves and adults, violate internal prohibitions, and cease to obey adults. Many of them become rude, uncontrollable, do everything in defiance of their elders, and ignore comments (teenager negativism).
At the same time, a teenager reflects, tries to understand himself and those around him, is critical of his shortcomings, both physical and personal, and worries about those character traits that interfere with his relationships with people. At this age, spiritual growth occurs, and mental status changes. Reflection, which extends to the surrounding world and oneself, leads to internal contradictions, which are based on the loss of identity with oneself, and the discrepancy between former ideas about oneself and the current image. These contradictions can lead to obsessive states: doubts, fears, and depressing thoughts about yourself. The manifestation of negativism can be expressed in some adolescents in senseless opposition to others, unmotivated contradiction (most often adults), and other protest reactions.
A teenager seeks to free himself from guardianship and control by adults (parents, teachers), considering himself old enough to make his own decisions and act as he sees fit. But there is still a lot of infantilism in his psychology and behavior – he does not take his duties seriously enough, and he cannot act responsibly and independently.
The age period from 15–16 to 17–18 years is the time of transition to independence, the period of self-determination, the formation of a worldview, moral consciousness, and self-awareness. Life activity during this period becomes more complicated: the range of social roles and interests expands, and more and more adult roles appear with a corresponding measure of independence and responsibility.
At this time, value orientations are developed, and a worldview is formed as a system of generalized ideas about the world as a whole, about the surrounding reality and other people and oneself, and a willingness to be guided by it in activities. Focus on the future, a sense of the flourishing of physical and intellectual capabilities, opening horizons create optimistic well-being in boys and girls, increased vitality. General emotional well-being becomes more even than that of younger adolescents. However, youth is also a period characterized by conflicting experiences, internal discontent, anxiety, and tossing, but they are less demonstrative than at an earlier age. The emotional sphere in youth becomes much richer in content and finer in shades of experiences,
Many young people at this age are already starting to work, and the task of choosing a profession and a further life path is faced by everyone. But along with elements of adult status, older adolescents retain a significant degree of dependence coming from childhood, primarily material dependence, and the inertia of parental attitudes associated with leadership and subordination.
The main tasks of the social development of a teenager include the following:
- the formation of identity, a holistic self;
- development of life competence and social intelligence;
- acquisition of communicative competence;
- development of morality and value orientations;
- formation of the ability to set and achieve goals;
- development of the ability for self-realization and social adaptation;
- development of the ability to withstand the negative pressure of the environment;
- development of the ability to overcome life’s difficulties;
- the acquisition of relative independence and separation from the family;
- creating your own social circle, interpersonal relationships, searching for friends;
- self-determination in the profession;
- formation of a holistic concept of life.