TeenagersThe word “adolescent” was introduced in the scientificliterature in 1904 by G. Stanley Hall who was a psychologist and educator.
Itrefers to the development between the childhood and the adult stage. He usedthe word “adolescent” in his books, this word comes from the Greek “adolecere”that refers to the growth of the physiological and psychological process,besides its physical, emotional and social evolution. In the dictionary, we canfind several meanings of the word “adolescence”. Since the transitional periodbetween puberty and adulthood in human development, the process or state ofgrowing to maturity, and a period or stage of development, as of a society,preceding maturity. But, how we can define adolescence now? It is just atransitional period as the Dictionary states or does it go beyond physicalchanges?The psychology is the most important part in the teenagerdevelopment according to many psychologists and educators because it is thestart of their growth and their acceptance into their society and socialcircle.
The teenager’s psychology where the young individual feels thenecessity to belong to a group and at some point, this individual can losehis/her identity for not being a stereotype. For instance, the stereotyping notonly is based on race, sex, religion, but also on the economy or the way wethink. Kids can stereotype a nerd for someone who is boring and only enjoysbeing in a library. They can limit this person to other activities, such asoutdoor, or more fun activities that only other kind of kids are supposed tomake. Teenagers want to be seen free of perceptions, they want to have anidentity, belong and being accepted in a group that is not his/her family. Thisis a step where teenagers start to look for a place in society.All subcultures tend to disappear with the time, thesubcultures from a hundred years ago are not the same as today’s subcultures(Petridis, 2014).
Subcultures can change according with the technology andmoral than an individual have around his/her environment (Carabello, 2004). Theteenager’s subcultures have been changing from decade to decade from theflourish of some groups such as the gamers to the death of other ones, such asDadaists. Dadaism was an art movement of the European avant-garde in theearly 20th century, with early centers in Zürich, Switzerland at the CabaretVoltaire. In the eighties and nineties, being different and being part of asubculture was to rebel against society, but in modern times, there seems to bea lack of commitment, as music and fashion come fast these days. Virtually,every area of subcultures has been affected by the internet, and have beendrastically transformed, as teenagers are more focused on creating a virtualidentity online rather making an obvious statement of their interests andhobbies. An online subculture is one that can be found on internet and it mayhave a similar interest and/or beliefs, for instance the human dollies.
Many onlinesubcultures are a passing phase, they get attention, then lead by industries oftoday and then die out. Twentieth century subcultures did not produce massmovements, these subcultures were attached by fashion, music, or interests,they were sadly microcosmic and brief subcultures.The youth subculture in the 21st century has muchinteraction with internet and their cellphones, that can be appreciated in thesales and marketing area where the consumers are mostly teens who take advicefrom their peers by text, email, blogs, reviews, and networking. Many of theirconcerns regarding the new product is price, comfort, up to environmentalimpact before buying. Technology has had such a huge transformative impact onteen’s behavior and subsequently their lifestyles. One example in favor of thistransformation is social networking.
Before the massive interest of Internetand web technologies, kids at the time used to socialize with friends fromschool or neighborhood and they got to spend time together in “real world”, butnot only networking is important…youth online shopping is a big segment of theinternet retail market that has been taking place for a couple years now. Now,virtuality takes over and platforms such as Facebook, Amazon, Instagram,Snapchat, online gaming sites, …etc have redefined the notion of socialnetworking releasing it from the spatio-temporal limitations that used to standin the face of people getting to know and talk to each other.Is today’s teenager more individualist than before? We canimply this from the time spent on their phones using social media than talkingwith another peer, and the action that they prefer to buy their stuff using theinternet than going to the stores. When we compare teenagers 20 years ago withteens now, an abysmal difference can be observed from the communicationperspective the time spent on electronics is a big alteration.
The use ofsocial media as an instrument to communicate and eventually create a virtuallife where many teens are sharing and expressing their ideas and lifeactivities, this is a significant difference from country to country (fromUnited States to Guatemala) maybe the use of the internet and cellphones aremore usual in first world countries since the services and offers are more usual,and there are more competitors in the telecommunication business than othercountries. Social media is being used to measure how popular a teen can be, thenumber of friends in a virtual social account can dictate some hints on othersapproval. Today, a video can be viral in days, it could be a trend for othersand it would imply to have more followers on your social media account, it canbe inferred that you can make more money if you hit the formula again.Therefore, it will have positive/negative feedback but it will draw attention.This is the behavior that we will have as social creatures, as social creatureswe look for approval and/or validation since we were young, and some of us willbecome addicted looking for those approvals outside ourselves. Teenagers are soconcerned for external approval that they receive the social feedback and theyinternalize it.
As they work on their identities, exploring new ideas/ways oflife, teens are persuaded to place a high level of importance on the feedback theyreceive from external causes such as social media (Sumter, 2009). Their senseof individuality is delicate, and these external forces are heavily weightedfor them. During this stage of identity teenagers who are in development leantowards and look around for other teens trying to understand who they are. Theissue with the social media creates anxiety in some teens who tend to bequestioned and in self-doubt, such as why her/his picture has more likes thanmine or do I have more friends than she on Instagram?(Sumter, 2009).
All thisdevelops in quantity over quality and the belief that more means good. Cansocial media increase the negative actions against those “misunderstoodyouths”? Self-confidence is enough for a teen when he/she is confronting problems,lack of self-esteem or emotional deficiency in home. But social media is notthe cause of this erratic behavior, this is only an instrument used for teenswhere actions can happen and share for other viewers.
It becomes the stand thataggravates performances and inclinations. Social media intensifies issuesrather than minimizing them, social media just puts it out there and pushes itto the forefront as an issue that young people should deal with. There is asolid connection between cases of cyberbullying and higher rates of suicidalthinking, sadness, and anxiety. Still, the fast transmission nature of socialmedia makes it exceptional in that a video/post can be shared and viewed for aworldwide audience in a brief time. No one is exempt to be a victim or becomepart of internet harassment and cyberbullying, but certain groups of people aremore susceptible to this type of action. Children and young people withdisabilities are prone to be harassed.
Parents need to be aware of thesesituations where the teen is being isolated from family’s activities. Thenecessity of having in home a free internet zone and encourage family’sactivities can increase their self-esteem. (Scholastic Choices, 2016)As soon adolescents become more independent from their parents,they become more social linked to their peers, peers gain more importance intheir connection to the social ground. Friends are chosen regarding on theirsimilarity to beliefs, behaviors and ideas. Hence, peers influence is a part ofthe adolescence friendship influence by other young adults. And, socialpressure also can drive to disruptive behavior in some teens, who may thinkthat their actions don’t have consequences. For instance, the teens who fledfrom Europe to join the extremist Islamic forces and now they are facing yearsin jail up to the death penalty.
Troubled teenagers who may in their growing uphave been part of dysfunctional families that can cause them to break the lawor belong to a gang. However, are the teenagers more risk taken when they arewith peers? Not all risk taking is bad. According with Steinberg, “Risk takingis normal during adolescence” (Scholastic Choices, 2016).
For example,when a teen wants to do a recent activity that never did before, such as goingto a club or driving a car you don’t know if you are going to succeed but youare taking a risk, this new take risk activity will help you to develop anautonomous grown up, therefore the answer is not to disregard the risk but takeit and challenge it.In conclusion, when we talk about teenagers as a subculture,we can imply that there are many variables we can explain for them. From myperspective the most important are: psychology, internet usage and peersinfluence. Since their beginning of their growth, when psychology is the mostimportant part to mold their values and ideas. Psychology will help to formtheir identity. Stereotyping can limit a person’s development. The subculturestend to disappear with the time.
New subcultures will born according with thetime and the social tendency that a group is influenced in that moment.Besides, internet also takes a key role in teen’s life. It is being used notonly as a communication tool but also to increase their self-esteem and at thesame time to influence in their consumer behavior.
But, internet also plays arole that can affect other individuals when it becomes a tool that can be usedto bully others. Teenagers can use technology not only for good but also topromote outrage among them. As well, peers influence is part of theirdevelopment as adults, where they are risk takers and it is a way to learn ofhow to fit in a social group.