Teenagers

The word “adolescent” was introduced in the scientific
literature in 1904 by G. Stanley Hall who was a psychologist and educator. It
refers to the development between the childhood and the adult stage. He used
the 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 can
find several meanings of the word “adolescence”. Since the transitional period
between puberty and adulthood in human development, the process or state of
growing 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 a
transitional period as the Dictionary states or does it go beyond physical
changes?

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The psychology is the most important part in the teenager
development according to many psychologists and educators because it is the
start of their growth and their acceptance into their society and social
circle. The teenager’s psychology where the young individual feels the
necessity to belong to a group and at some point, this individual can lose
his/her identity for not being a stereotype. For instance, the stereotyping not
only is based on race, sex, religion, but also on the economy or the way we
think. Kids can stereotype a nerd for someone who is boring and only enjoys
being in a library. They can limit this person to other activities, such as
outdoor, or more fun activities that only other kind of kids are supposed to
make. Teenagers want to be seen free of perceptions, they want to have an
identity, belong and being accepted in a group that is not his/her family. This
is a step where teenagers start to look for a place in society.

All subcultures tend to disappear with the time, the
subcultures from a hundred years ago are not the same as today’s subcultures
(Petridis, 2014). Subcultures can change according with the technology and
moral than an individual have around his/her environment (Carabello, 2004). The
teenager’s subcultures have been changing from decade to decade from the
flourish of some groups such as the gamers to the death of other ones, such as
Dadaists. Dadaism was an art movement of the European avant-garde in the
early 20th century, with early centers in Zürich, Switzerland at the Cabaret
Voltaire. In the eighties and nineties, being different and being part of a
subculture was to rebel against society, but in modern times, there seems to be
a lack of commitment, as music and fashion come fast these days. Virtually,
every area of subcultures has been affected by the internet, and have been
drastically transformed, as teenagers are more focused on creating a virtual
identity online rather making an obvious statement of their interests and
hobbies. An online subculture is one that can be found on internet and it may
have a similar interest and/or beliefs, for instance the human dollies. Many online
subcultures are a passing phase, they get attention, then lead by industries of
today and then die out. Twentieth century subcultures did not produce mass
movements, these subcultures were attached by fashion, music, or interests,
they were sadly microcosmic and brief subcultures.

The youth subculture in the 21st century has much
interaction with internet and their cellphones, that can be appreciated in the
sales and marketing area where the consumers are mostly teens who take advice
from their peers by text, email, blogs, reviews, and networking. Many of their
concerns regarding the new product is price, comfort, up to environmental
impact before buying. Technology has had such a huge transformative impact on
teen’s behavior and subsequently their lifestyles. One example in favor of this
transformation is social networking. Before the massive interest of Internet
and web technologies, kids at the time used to socialize with friends from
school or neighborhood and they got to spend time together in “real world”, but
not only networking is important…youth online shopping is a big segment of the
internet 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 social
networking releasing it from the spatio-temporal limitations that used to stand
in the face of people getting to know and talk to each other.

Is today’s teenager more individualist than before? We can
imply this from the time spent on their phones using social media than talking
with another peer, and the action that they prefer to buy their stuff using the
internet than going to the stores. When we compare teenagers 20 years ago with
teens now, an abysmal difference can be observed from the communication
perspective the time spent on electronics is a big alteration. The use of
social media as an instrument to communicate and eventually create a virtual
life where many teens are sharing and expressing their ideas and life
activities, this is a significant difference from country to country (from
United States to Guatemala) maybe the use of the internet and cellphones are
more usual in first world countries since the services and offers are more usual,
and there are more competitors in the telecommunication business than other
countries. Social media is being used to measure how popular a teen can be, the
number of friends in a virtual social account can dictate some hints on others
approval. Today, a video can be viral in days, it could be a trend for others
and it would imply to have more followers on your social media account, it can
be 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 creatures
we look for approval and/or validation since we were young, and some of us will
become addicted looking for those approvals outside ourselves. Teenagers are so
concerned for external approval that they receive the social feedback and they
internalize it. As they work on their identities, exploring new ideas/ways of
life, teens are persuaded to place a high level of importance on the feedback they
receive from external causes such as social media (Sumter, 2009). Their sense
of individuality is delicate, and these external forces are heavily weighted
for them. During this stage of identity teenagers who are in development lean
towards and look around for other teens trying to understand who they are. The
issue with the social media creates anxiety in some teens who tend to be
questioned and in self-doubt, such as why her/his picture has more likes than
mine or do I have more friends than she on Instagram?(Sumter, 2009). All this
develops in quantity over quality and the belief that more means good. Can
social media increase the negative actions against those “misunderstood
youths”? 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 not
the cause of this erratic behavior, this is only an instrument used for teens
where actions can happen and share for other viewers. It becomes the stand that
aggravates performances and inclinations. Social media intensifies issues
rather than minimizing them, social media just puts it out there and pushes it
to the forefront as an issue that young people should deal with. There is a
solid connection between cases of cyberbullying and higher rates of suicidal
thinking, sadness, and anxiety. Still, the fast transmission nature of social
media makes it exceptional in that a video/post can be shared and viewed for a
worldwide audience in a brief time. No one is exempt to be a victim or become
part of internet harassment and cyberbullying, but certain groups of people are
more susceptible to this type of action. Children and young people with
disabilities are prone to be harassed. Parents need to be aware of these
situations where the teen is being isolated from family’s activities. The
necessity of having in home a free internet zone and encourage family’s
activities 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 in
their connection to the social ground. Friends are chosen regarding on their
similarity to beliefs, behaviors and ideas. Hence, peers influence is a part of
the adolescence friendship influence by other young adults. And, social
pressure also can drive to disruptive behavior in some teens, who may think
that their actions don’t have consequences. For instance, the teens who fled
from Europe to join the extremist Islamic forces and now they are facing years
in jail up to the death penalty. Troubled teenagers who may in their growing up
have been part of dysfunctional families that can cause them to break the law
or belong to a gang. However, are the teenagers more risk taken when they are
with peers? Not all risk taking is bad. According with Steinberg, “Risk taking
is normal during adolescence” (Scholastic Choices, 2016). For example,
when a teen wants to do a recent activity that never did before, such as going
to a club or driving a car you don’t know if you are going to succeed but you
are taking a risk, this new take risk activity will help you to develop an
autonomous grown up, therefore the answer is not to disregard the risk but take
it 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 my
perspective the most important are: psychology, internet usage and peers
influence. Since their beginning of their growth, when psychology is the most
important part to mold their values and ideas. Psychology will help to form
their identity. Stereotyping can limit a person’s development. The subcultures
tend to disappear with the time. New subcultures will born according with the
time 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 not
only as a communication tool but also to increase their self-esteem and at the
same time to influence in their consumer behavior. But, internet also plays a
role that can affect other individuals when it becomes a tool that can be used
to bully others. Teenagers can use technology not only for good but also to
promote outrage among them. As well, peers influence is part of their
development as adults, where they are risk takers and it is a way to learn of
how to fit in a social group.