Adolescent & Young Adult

Ad•o•les•cence \,a-də-‘le-sən(t)s\


Definition: 1. the state or process of growing up, 2. the period of life from puberty to maturity terminating legally at the age of majority, 3. a stage of development (as of a language or culture) prior to maturity. (Merriam-Webster Online)

Young Adult


Definition: 1. a teenager (used especially by publishers and librarians), 2. a person in the early years of adulthood. (, based on Random House Dictionary)

13 years–34 years

Physical Development

  • Puberty brings about physical maturity and a final growth spurt. The child’s nutritional needs increase to reflect a rapidly growing body.
  • Girls may begin to develop breasts as early as 8, but typically develop fully between the ages of 12 and 18. Hair grows and reaches its adult pattern around the age of 13 or 14. The growth spurt for girls typically occurs between the ages of nine and 15.
  • Boys begin to notice testicle and scrotum growth around the age of nine, reaching adult size and shape around 16 or 17. Pubic hair, armpit, leg, chest, and facial hair begin to grow at around age 12 and reach adult patterns around 15 or 16 years. Boy’s voices change during puberty.
  • After puberty, aging begins. Approximately 50% of men will show signs of baldness by the time they reach 30 years of age.  Hearing loss begins, but it typically becomes noticeable only after the age of 50.

Cognitive Development

  • Teens who do not complete high school are more likely to display destructive behaviors in adulthood., including substance abuse, criminality and delinquency, and to experience unemployment and low income.
  • Self-regulation and impulse control steadily improves into adulthood, but risk taking increases during adolescence. Rates of injury in adolescents increase by nearly 200% from childhood.
  • During adolescence, the ability to plan and carry out new and complex sequences of actions reaches maturity.
  • People who receive higher levels of education are less likely to develop dementia later in life. Researchers speculate that those who pursue higher education tend to place themselves in more cognitively stimulating environments throughout life.

Emotional Development

  • By adolescence, the ability to control emotions should be fully developed, but the magnitude of that control varies across individuals. Determining when help is needed is often difficult because some teens simply require more time to grow up than others, eventually reaching a healthy degree of maturity and self-control later in adulthood.

Cultural and Social Development

  • Teenagers are often described as “risk takers.” Research, indicates that though teenagers may not be more inclined to take risks, they are not good at identifying risky situations. Strategies to curb risky behavior may need to be revised to improve adolescents’ skills at recognizing risk.
  • Teenage willingness to take risks can be intensified by the teenager’s social environment. The more times a teenager has been exposed to risky behaviors, whether through experience or the accounts of friends, the less risk that teenager associates with dangerous activity.
  • During early adulthood, leisure time decreases as individuals take on more important responsibilities at work and at home. Young adulthood is customarily seen as the appropriate age to start full-time jobs, get married, and have children.
  • Evidence indicates that parents can prepare their children for new social challenges—such as the dangers of binge drinking on college campuses—by discussing the topic with their children prior to college.

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