Filtered by category: Research Summaries Clear Filter

How valuable is the parent-child relationship in protecting adolescents from the mental health impact of COVID-19?

We can all agree: the spread of COVID-19 was, and still is, a huge threat to our physical health. More and more people worldwide have also started to warn about its possible negative impact on our mental health. Adolescents, in particular, could be very vulnerable to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures imposed, given their age and developmental tasks. Yet, it is only now that the first studies on the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of adolescents are appearing.

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Predicting Emotion Changes during COVID-19: A Daily Diary Study in Youth

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected the mental health of children and adolescents. Identifying the predictors of emotional response to the pandemic is critical for prevention and intervention efforts. Given that the period of adolescence is characterized by high sensitivity to stress, teenagers may be especially sensitive to pandemic-related challenges.

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Slow life history strategies and increases in externalizing and internalizing problems during the COVID-19 pandemic

The ongoing COVID pandemic has had a psychological impact on people of all ages, including adolescents. Although the devastation wrought by COVID appears unprecedented, disease pandemics have recurred throughout human history. Any attempts to mitigate the psychological impact of the current pandemic should reflect the understanding that humans have evolved coping strategies shaped by evolutionarily recurrent adversities, including infectious diseases. Coping with environmental adversities requires coordination between physiological and psychological systems. These regulatory responses are known as fast and slow life history tradeoff strategies.

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Underrepresented Voices: Positive Youth Development among Roma and Egyptian Youth in Times of Pandemic

COVID-19 is disrupting youth development globally. Ethnic and racial minorities are disproportionately exposed to the virus and affected by the pandemic due to systemic social and economic disparities. Yet, there is a lack of research on how at-risk minority youth are coping with the present pandemic to shed light on the developmental assets that can boost their positive development during these uncertain times.

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Religious Support and Black Adolescent Girls’ Mental Well-being

Religion is a key source of better mental health and well-being across the life course for Black Americans. A constant among Black youth and their families, it is also a significant cultural and coping resource for Black girls, who tend to be more religious than Black boys. Attending worship services and participating in other organized religious activities has been shown to contribute to a wide range of positive outcomes, including mental well-being. This may be one significant factor to help us understand how to foster mental well-being among Black girls and the emotional support received from relationships formed within the religious communities that Black girls may access.

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High-quality relationships with parents can protect high-risk adolescent girls from depressive symptoms

Time spent with peers increases during adolescence compared to childhood, and adolescents are believed to become more susceptible to peer influences and more vulnerable to the stressful peer experience of social exclusion.  As characterized in the movie “Mean Girls,” adolescent girls especially have a reputation for being exclusive, or “cliquey.”  Setting aside the question of whether such media portrayals are an exaggeration or caricature of adolescent behavior, parents might wonder whether they have any power to help their teens bounce back from the impact of negative experiences with peers.  Dr. Rudolph and colleagues’ research suggests they do.

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The Role of Positive Youth Development.

Positive Youth Development (PYD) emphasizes the potential for healthy, successful development, via interpersonal skills and relationships, confidence and self-efficacy, academic achievement, and success in school and society[1]. Stronger connections to community, family, teachers, and peers socialize adolescents with the requisite values, norms, goals, purposes, skills, and knowledge to navigate developmental challenges of early adolescence and to transition into adulthood[2]. In addition, opportunities for skill-building and engagement enhance the likelihood of healthy development and to become responsible citizens[3].

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Polyvictimization and Suicide Risk among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Teens

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) teens continue to face bullying, discrimination, and violence in their schools and communities, in large part due to the continued stigma against sexual and gender minority identities. LGBTQ teens also continue to attempt suicide at rates far greater than heterosexual teens. Here, we summarize key findings and implications of our recent study on the relationship between victimization and suicide risk among LGB teens.

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The Risks of Sharenting for Adolescents

Refresh your social media apps, scroll your timeline, and the chances are high that you’ll encounter sharenting. In other words, you’ll find pictures posted by your friends, family, and acquaintances of their children. Not only are these parents expressing pride in their children, but they are also archiving treasured memories and creating opportunities for receiving affirmation and support about the joys and hardships of parenting. For many millennial parents, social media documentation has been the norm since their own adolescence. In this sense, the rise of “sharenting” – the sharing of parenting experiences -- is of no surprise. However, a poll conducted by the Mott Children’s Hospital (2015) found that 75% of parents report knowing another parent who shares too much about a child on social media [1]. But what exactly is sharing too much? And should we be concerned about how these sharenting practices influence adolescents?

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Understanding Life Expectancy and Its Role in Why Youth in Disordered Neighborhoods Engage in Risk-Taking

Some adolescents severely underestimate how old they will live to be. The average life expectancy in the United
States is around 78 years old according to the World Bank, and 76 years for males specifically. However, some boys expect an early death. One large national study of adolescents found that 14% of youths did not expect to live past 35 years old. While it may not be immediately obvious why it is problematic that some adolescents do not expect to live very long, youth who expect to die earlier are more likely to engage in behavior that might promote that very outcome.  For example, they are more likely to attempt or plan suicide, drop out of school, and experience emotional distress. 

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Why are some youth more prone to engage in substance use than others? Applying the dual systems model to a high-risk population

Adolescence is a life stage defined by significant biological and social changes.  Youth with underlying risk for substance use involvement may experience difficulty navigating these changes, increasing the likelihood of maladjustment.

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Ethical Considerations in Recruiting Adolescents for Research on Social Media: A Case Study

Alongside the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on people’s lives and livelihoods, academia has had to adjust to a new world where in-person research may not be possible in the near future. Social media — where 45% of teenagers spend time “almost constantly” (Anderson & Jiang, 2018) — is a promising option for research with adolescents. However, this type of research presents special ethical considerations.

Just Because We Can, Doesn’t Mean We Should
On June 17th, a White PhD student tweeted that he had scraped 10,000 tweets containing the hashtag #BlackinIvory. This hashtag was originally created for Black scholars to share personal stories of racism and discrimination in academia. Within minutes, dozens of scholars commented to discourage the PhD student from conducting this research without obtaining consent. The PhD student deleted the post and apologized.


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Factors Influencing Adolescents' Decision to Meditate

Meditation can help adolescents reduce stress and self-regulate (thoughts, emotions, behaviors), but they may need help creating the time and space to practice this behavior.

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Does Resilience Mean the Same Thing for Adolescents Around the World?

Some teens show resilience despite adverse conditions, but the individual, social, and community factors supporting resilience vary around the globe.

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What Can We Learn about Adolescents’ Political Development by asking their views of the President?

The Society for Research on Adolescence is a non-partisan organization that promotes the scientific study of adolescence. Any political views reflected in this blog represent the perception of adolescent research participants. 

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Handle with Care: How Parenting Shapes Adolescents’ Values

New research reveals how different parenting “styles” foster the development of different sets of values among teens.

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Parenting Practices Function Differently as Society Develops

Parenting is known to influence adolescents’ academic adjustment. What happens when cultural norms related to parenting change?

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Ambulatory Assessment May Be an Answer to Engaging ‘Hard to Reach’ Youth in Research

Some ethnic and demographic groups are difficult to recruit for research studies. Mobile devices and other new technologies can eliminate some barriers, especially when used mindfully.

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Researchers who study adolescents are increasingly relying on data collection strategies based on teens’ smartphones. How well do adolescents understand their rights as research participants?

Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) is a term used to describe the collection of data in real time while subjects remain in their natural environments. Many adolescence researchers are familiar with contemporary beginnings in social science research, such as when Reed Larson and Claudia Lampman-Petraitis signaled adolescents to record their emotional state using electronic pagers. However, with the growing ubiquity of smart phone use and ownership among adolescents, EMA has become more common and more feasible.

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How can researchers study developmental constructs over time when age-appropriate measures change as their sample ages?

Studying Change In Depressive Symptoms In Youth Over Time Poses Specific Challenges For Researchers Related To Both Change In Symptom Manifestation And Change In Age-Validated Measurement.

Assessing change in mental health, such as depressive symptoms, across development is particularly challenging for two related reasons. First, the symptoms of depression look different at different ages; for example, in childhood, depression often manifests as angry mood, but as youth age, depression manifests as sadness and suicidal ideation. Second, and accordingly, the way clinicians and researchers measure mental health symptoms also changes across childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. To examine depressive symptoms, children are often assessed using tools like the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI; validated for use with children age 8-17 years), while adults are assessed using measures like the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II; validated for use with adolescents and adults age 13 and older). Although both tools are reliable, valid, and age-appropriate, they include different items and response options. This makes it challenging to track how individuals’ level of depression changes with age. If different measures are used at different times, it is not possible to know whether the observed changes in depression are indicative of an individual’s symptoms changing over time or if they are a by-product of change in the measurement instrument. Tracking and answering questions about changes in depressive symptoms when different measurement tools are used requires some creative linking of the different tools.

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