Puberty refers to the time between the first onset of hormones and the full adult physical development that often lasts for 3-5 years (Dorn & Biro, 2011). Considerable growth occurs during the puberty period with regard to psychological, social, and biological aspects. The current paper explores adolescent physical development including trends in puberty over the last 100 years; impact of puberty timing on adolescent physical development; impact of physical development on classroom behavior; socio-emotional and cognitive behavior; modelling proper technology etiquette in adolescents; and correcting inappropriate technology use.
Trends in Adolescent Puberty Over the Last 100 Years
Currently, it is widely acknowledged that puberty begins earlier with every generation. Numerous studies indicate that the age at which puberty begins for both boys and girls continues to drop. Mrug et al. (2014) indicated that, in 1860, the onset of puberty among was about 16.6 years. In 1950, it was 13.1 years. In 1980, it was 12.5 years, and in 2010, it was 10.5 years (Mrug, et al., 2014). For boys, the puberty age has also been dropping, although with a delay of about one year. Overall, this trend proves that the age at which adolescents reach puberty has been dropping for the past 100 years.
Possible Reasons for This Trend
A number of factors have been attributed to this trend. One of the factors is the health improvements that started during the late 19th century (Fortenberry, 2013). Another factor used to explain this trend in puberty is the obesity/overweight epidemic as well as the increased pollution exposure, which affect the developing bodies of adolescents. For instance, it has been discovered that environmental toxins cause earlier breast development in girls. Some environmental pollutants are endocrine disrupters (Fortenberry, 2013). In addition, numerous pharmaceutical and industrial pollutants have been reported to influence sexual development of animals; thus, it is considered that they have the same effect on human beings by disrupting puberty among children. The increase in obesity prevalence contributes to the early puberty since it has been correlated to a higher body mass idex (BMI) (Mensah et al., 2013). Decline in physical activity among adolescents is another factor contributing to early puberty (Fortenberry, 2013).
How Early or Late Puberty Affects Adolescent Physical Development
The timing of puberty affects physical development of boys and girls differently. Any physical development that differs considerably from the norm can result in significant anxiety as well as emotional and social conflicts (Fortenberry, 2013). Girls, who reach puberty early, tend to look like adults; hence the society expects them to behave accordingly. In addition, girls who reach puberty early may suffer from excess weight and look bigger when compared to their counterparts who are yet to reach puberty. Boys, who reach puberty earlier, tend to be stronger when compared to their peers (Mensah et al., 2013). Moreover, boys who reach puberty earlier perceive themselves as more attractive. Therefore, boys who develop puberty early are more satisfied with their physical development than those who reach puberty later. On the contrary, girls who reach puberty earlier are more dissatisfied with their physical development and body image (Fortenberry, 2013).
How Changes in Physical Development Affect Adolescent Behavior in the Classroom
Physical development denotes the bodily changes related to the growth, biological maturity, and motor skills (Mensah et al., 2013). Notable physical developmental growth includes the increase in size of internal organs, weight, height, and changes in the muscular and skeletal systems. Since bones grow faster than muscles, adolescents may experience issues with coordination, which in turn affects their classroom behavior (Fortenberry, 2013). Moreover, basal metabolism fluctuations experienced during the adolescence period lead to the restlessness and fatigue, thus their behavior in the classroom is mostly characterized by laziness. Moreover, physical developments among adolescents occur in the brain and include restructuring of the neural circuitry of the brain and development of the prefrontal cortex (Fortenberry, 2013). These developments facilitate decision making, their ability to sustain attention, reasoning, and planning.
How Physical Developmment Affects Adolescent Cognitive and
Socio-Emotional Behavior in the Classroom
Physical development impacts cognitive and socio-emotional behaviors of adolescents in various ways. Socio-emotional development is related to the ability of an individual to engage in mature interactions with groups of individuals. During the early adolescence stage, there is a delay in socio-emotional maturity when compared to intellectual and physical development (Mensah et al., 2013). Adolescents often feel a need to be part of a group since peer approval increases in importance while the significance of adult approval declines. In addition, adolescents try novel behaviors when they pursue personal identity and social position. Usually adolescents have an overwhelming desire to be independent and distinctive, as well as to conform to the norms of peer groups. Another important socio-emotional development witnessed during the adolescence period is expanding the friend circle as well as experiencing sexual attraction (Mensah et al., 2013). Other socio-emotional developments include overreacting during social situations, challenging authority, and ridiculing others. During adolescence, cognitive development is also observed, which results in the ability to give logical reasons. Some of the cognitive developments witnessed during the adolescence include independent thought, meta-cognition, curiosity, preference for active learning over passive learning, preference for interaction with the peers, and increased capacity for their abstract thought processes (Dorn & Biro, 2011).
Modelling Proper Technology Etiquette in Adolescents
There are various approaches that can be used by teachers to model proper technology etiquette among adolescents, which include increasing student awareness and being a role model. Teachers can enhance student awareness by informing them about advantages and disadvantages associated with using digital resources (Good & Fang, 2015). Lastly, being a good role model entails showing commitment and dedication to upholding as well as promoting academic standards. Being a good role model provides students with an opportunity to use technology appropriately (Good & Fang, 2015).