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Overview of adolescent development

In this video, we will take a look at the social and emotional development of adolescents.
So let’s talk about this term adolescence. The definition of adolescence tends to change differ from place to place, and by context, and that’s one reason why we use age as one way to reference or mark adolescent generally, it’s ages 10 to 18 or 10 to 19. So while ages one way for us to think about adolescence, it’s more like a guide. It doesn’t capture the whole story. Yeah, Carly.
Age is just one way for us to reference adolescence, so if you think about the start of adolescence is generally marked by these big physical changes that we see because of puberty, these biological changes in the body that starts ages 9, 10, 11 in most places, but the end of adolescence there isn’t physical markers to suggest the move from adolescence into adulthood. That transition tends to depend on the context and the culture where the person is living. So what about puberty? Where does that fit into adolescence? So, after early childhood, adolescence is the period of life where we see the most rapid brain development. So you can think about brain development like this tree during early childhood.
We start with the sapling and it’s growing into this tree and leaves and branches keep getting added on and on and on, and it grows and grows during puberty at the start of adolescence. It’s like the gardener coming in, looking at the tree and saying. OK, we need to make this tree more efficient and usable for the rest of life, and So what ends up happening is the gardener takes away the branches and the leaves and the parts of the tree that aren’t being used that are not sufficient. The same thing is happening to in the brain during adolescence. The connections that are not being used are pruned away, are taken away.
The other thing that’s happening during adolescence in the brain is what we call myelination. It’s the
being used during adolescence. Our strength and you can think about that like the bark of the tree that’s being slowly strengthened overtime, and the third thing that’s important to remember during adolescence about brain development is that the brain is developing at different rates. Not all parts of the brain are developing at the same rate, and this brain development and maturation takes place and continues until the late 20s. So besides the physical changes that we see during adolescence, what are the other changes that adolescents are experiencing that affect the way they interact with the world around them?
So one of the most important things to learn and to take away is that adolescence is a very, very important time for learning and growth in a lot of work that I’ve done previously. What I’ve seen is that there is this myth that after childhood there’s not much room for growth or learning. But what we’re learning from this brain science and neuroscience is that adolescence is actually a very important time for brain development, and so also for learning and growth. The second important thing to take away is that. The brain is developing at different rates right? So for example, the accelerator system in the brain, the part of the brain that helps us go find new adventures, explore new things.
That part of the brain tends to develop early on in adolescence, while the breaking system, the part of the brain that stops us from taking risks, helps us make judgments that part of the brain tends to develop later in adolescence. This may be one reason why adolescents tend to take a lot more risks than adults, but. The more important thing to remember is that this breaking and accelerating happens in the context. The social and emotional context where adolescents live. So one example is a study that was done where they put adolescents and adults separately into a virtual driving machine and found that adolescents and adults took about the same number of risks while driving.
However, when they put appear a friend for adolescents or another adult into the virtual driving machine, they found that adolescents took a lot more risks than adults. While driving what this suggests for us as adults is that we have to understand the social and emotional context within which adolescents are doing this breaking and accelerating the social situation affects how the brain can interact in these situations. What can we expect to see next in this unit? So I’d like you to go over to the next step and there you’ll find a short article that talks about what typical development looks like. Physical, cognitive, social and emotional development.

Now that we have discussed the key developmental tasks that are part of adolescence, we need to ask ourselves: how does experiencing the stress of crisis affect these developmental tasks. In the next step you will find a short article that provides an overview of how crises affect adolescent development, especially the four developmental tasks.

– Ross, K. M., Kim, H., Tolan, P. H., & Jennings, P. A. (2019). An exploration of normative social and emotional skill growth trajectories during adolescence. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 62(June 2018), 102–115.
– Savina, E., & Wan, K. P. (2017). Cultural pathways to socio-emotional development and learning. Journal of Relationships Research, 8, 1–9.
– Yeager, D. S. (2017). Social-emotional learning programs for adolescents. The Future of Children, 27(1).
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