Academic journal article Adolescence

Socialization Agents and Activities of Young Adolescents

Academic journal article Adolescence

Socialization Agents and Activities of Young Adolescents

Article excerpt


The aim of this research was to examine the relative importance and impact of peer groups, family, school, and community on young adolescents. The relative influence of these socialization agents were demonstrated mainly by the activities, preferences, feelings, and thoughts of the teenagers concerning the way they spend their leisure time, their preferences for help providers, and the sense of attachment to their community. This study examined "normative" adolescents, in contrast to many studies that deal with problematic behaviors and their prevention. It focuses on three elements of the youngsters' cultural background which are considered important explanatory factors of their subculture: gender, level of religiosity, and nature of their community. Participants (7th- 9th-grade adolescents) living on the Golan Heights, a peripheral area in the north of Israel.


The process of the separating from childhood dependencies and parents, and moving on to a wider social milieu with extra-familial relationships is generally considered a crucial developmental stage which the adolescent must pass through in order to achieve maturity (Roberts, 1985; Coleman, 1992). Western research has found that youth spend much less time with the family, which may reflect individualistic rather than collectivistic values with greater value placed on individualism rather than family (Larson & Verma, 1999). This distancing of youth is also from teachers and other significant adults and from official institutions (such as school and organized leisure institutions). The increasing importance of the peer group makes it an effective socialization agent, which may encourage idle activity that is negatively correlated with adolescents' school achievement and positively with higher rates of delinquency and anti-social behavior (Coleman, 1989, 1992; Larson & Verna, 1999). Group Socialization theory asserts that it is not the home but the peer environment that has lasting effects on adolescents' psychological characteristics when they become adults. Self-categorization processes of assimilation and differentiation tend to make adolescents more similar to each other within peer groups and less similar to adults (Harris, 1995). The gap leads to intergenrational conflict. Adolescents threaten the authority of parents, educators, and traditional institutions. According to social control theory (Hirschi, 1969), the detachment of young persons from parents and community institutions of conventional society weaken social control over them. In its moderate mode the conflict is a "generation gap" and in its extreme mode it is a "generation war." On the other hand, from a positive point of view, a degree of separateness from parents and other adults is essential for establishing independence; generally it is normal and moderate (Chen & Farruggia, 2002; Coleman, 1989; Hendry et al., 1993).

Peer groups act as a source of behavioral standards, particularly where parental influence is weak. Acceptance by peers is perceived as important especially by young adolescents, with conformity to the group the price that has to be paid. It is sustained by peer pressure which transmits group norms and fosters loyalty to the group (Hendry et al., 1993).

Leisure and Free Time of Young Adolescents

Leisure is a central sphere of life, described by Roberts (1985) as intrinsically satisfying experiences that individuals derive from recreation during their free time. Free time and leisure activities are major facets of adolescents' lives. In developing and postindustrial societies, it is schoolwork that most clearly replaces household and paid labor in youths' time use. The amount of time spent on schoolwork is inversely related to the amount of time devoted to nearly every other activity, particularly leisure activities (Larson & Verma, 1999; Zeijl et al. …

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