Adolescence inseparable from the everyday lives of adolescents.

Adolescence is a time of physical, mental, and social growth. And my service learning experiences assisted me in learning more in depth about adolescent behavior. I will first discuss decision-making processes in adolescence and associate it with a shoplifting charge.

I will also discuss the media cultures influence on adolescent behavior and reference language used by adolescent girls. Lastly, I will discuss gender roles in adolescence and discuss interactions witnessed between adolescents.In reality, people often make choices out of habit or for other various reasons. Decisions may be made under the pressures of peers or may be made under an emotional state. Some people prefer to make decisions strategically and gather information.

Others may prefer to make decisions based off of intuition or their “gut-feeling.” In Age of Opportunity by Laurence Steinberg (2014), Steinberg (2014) claims that research on the adolescent brain can tell us a lot about the way teens behave. Steinberg (2014) says, “The capacity for self-regulation in the adolescent brain is slow to develop, while other brain changes ratchet up sensitivity to reward,.

..This combination leads to increased impulsivity and risky behavior, and studies also show that this effect is heightened when teens are in the presence of peers.” In one Teen Court case, an adolescent was caught shoplifting. The adolescent had no intention of shoplifting the day the individual was caught. The adolescents reasoning for stealing certain merchandise was purely for the thrill.

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  The power of the media makes sure that what is seen, heard and experienced in the media influences the behavior of teenagers whether they are conscious of it or not. Media is the one thing that is almost inseparable from the everyday lives of adolescents. Adolescents are at a time in their lives in which they are most impressionable. And because they are coming into a world full of opportunities and choices, they often look for direction and guidance on how they can best live their lives in today’s society. Which is where media comes in handy.

Adolescents often look to media to decipher what types of behavior are acceptable or unacceptable, what is normal and what is not. In one interaction between two adolescents who are girls, they gossiped about peers and talked about others in derogatory terms typically used against women. Our society has a set of norms about how gender roles in society are supposed to be. We expect women and men to think, dress and act respectively to their genders.

Multiple figures–parents, teachers, peers–teach and reinforce gender roles throughout an adolescents life, sometimes unknowingly. In the article The Family Contexts of Gender Development in Childhood and Adolescence by Susan M. McHale, Ann C. Crouter, and Shawn D. Whiteman (2003) found that differences in children’s experiences with their mothers versus their fathers do have implications for individual differences in genders.

McHale, Crouter, and Whiteman (2003) also found the social comparisons children make about how women versus men behave in close relationships and about the kinds of family roles they themselves might seek as adults may be a powerful influence on children’s gender development over the long term. I would often hear boys talking about video games and joke around while I would hear girls talking about things that happened in certain classes or at lunch. Service learning was an eye-opening experience for me, but I definitely enjoyed it.  I found discovering topics or issues was easier for me with my Teen Court hours. I did not know what to expect going in, but my experiences were worth it.

I have thought about continuing to attend Teen Court sessions because I enjoy applying things I have learned in class about adolescent behavior to real experiences of adolescents. Overall, service learning was a great experience and helped me understand issues more within the class.

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