Social networks provide an environment for virtual communication and play a key role in the quality of mental health. A Pew Research revealed that adolescents aged 10 to 18 years spent an average of 11 hours a day using electronic media. The effect of all this screen time on the emotional maturity of the adolescents is currently a topic of intense research.
The present study focused on determining the degree of internet addiction of high school adolescents and examining the relationship between internet addiction and emotional maturity of high school adolescents.
In addition, the study also determined gender differences in internet addiction as well as emotional maturity of high school adolescents.
A sample of 120 participants (60 boys and 60 girls) in the age group of 12-16 years, all high school students of North Goa district was randomly selected. The tool employed for assessing internet addiction was the Internet Addiction Test (IAS) by Dr .Kimberly Young (1994), and for emotional maturity, the Emotional Maturity Scale by Singh and Bhargava (1990).
The data was analyzed using Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation Coefficient and t-test.
The results of the study revealed that the tendency of internet addiction is a serious threat to the emotional maturity of high school adolescents. Nearly 78% of high school adolescents were found to have a high frequency of internet usage whereas a whopping 80% of high school adolescents lacked emotional maturity. No gender differences were found in the degree of internet addiction as well as the level of emotional maturity. The study puts forth suggestions for curbing the alarmingly high levels of internet addiction as well as addressing the issue of emotional immaturity of high school adolescents.
”Computers and kids are a deadly combination”. This is the exclamation of most parents, particularly of teenagers. Youngsters not only take to computers as a fish to water, they seem to gain mastery over the use of the latest applications within no time and this is exactly where the parents fall behind in their quest of monitoring their child’s emotional development. The parents of most teenagers are alien to the internet and all its intricacies. To add to that, a communication gap exists between parents and adolescents, which only adds to the anxiety of parents when they seem to be at a loss at deciphering the behaviour of their teenagers.
Adolescence is one of the most dramatic phases in the life span of an individual. In a stunning short time, the child takes on an adult like physique and intellect and is dubbed a “teenager”. “It’s when you have to pay adult prices for movies, but you can’t see adult movies”. These are the words used by a 13 – year old to sum up her views on early adolescence – a time when society sends mixed signals to its youngsters. Technically, adolescence is the period from the beginning of sexual maturity (puberty) to the completion of physical growth. Moreover the psychological impact of the transition to adolescence may differ across individuals and perhaps even across cultures.
“Adolescence is a period of storm and stress”. This is the view of Granville Stanley Hall, an American psychologist whose book ‘Adolescence’ (1904) helped make this age the focus of scientific study. Hall saw adolescence partly as an upheaval, a disruption of peaceful growth. Anna Freud, a prominent theorist and daughter of Sigmund Freud, even argued that those adolescents who maintain their psychological balance during adolescence may be abnormal. According to the anthropologist Margaret Mead, adolescence represented a period of slowly maturing interests and activities.
It seems clear, that stressful conflicts are often a part of adolescence. Some of these conflicts pit the teenagers movement towards adulthood against the limits imposed by society. Our society forces adolescents to go to school, limits the labour they can do, governs them with laws that apply to minors but not to adults. Society controls the age at which adolescents may vote, drink, drive, enlist in the military and even enter into contracts. Often, these age limits bear little relation to the biological or psychological development of the adolescents involved.
Puberty marks the transition from child to adult. These events are triggered by a signal from the hypothalamus. It starts with a period of rapid physical growth (the so – called adolescents growth spurt) accompanied by the gradual development of the reproductive organs and secondary sex characteristics (breast development in girls, beard growth in boys and appearance of pubic hair in both sexes).
Gender differences in the timing of the growth spurt produce some interesting shifts in size and maturity of the two sexes. By about age 14, though boys have caught up and begun to move beyond girls in both body size and muscular strength.
Along with the bodily changes of adolescence come major intellectual changes. According to Jean Piaget’s theory of intellectual development, at around the age of 12, most youngsters begin the final major stage of cognitive development discussed by Piaget as formal operations. In this stage, thinking becomes quite adult like but not quite so. A general feature of formal-operational thought is abstract thinking, inductive and deductive thinking, hypothetical thinking, inter-propositional logic, reflective thinking.
Conventional wisdom holds that adolescence is a period characterized by moodiness, inner turmoil and rebellion. Modern research has largely not supported this view (Steinberg & Morris, 2001). Many adolescents experiment with alcohol and smoking during high school or do something that is against the law, like driving a car below the legal age. However, most of them do not develop an alcohol problem or a criminal career (Farrington, 1995).
Some of the upsurge in problems in adolescence may be linked directly to the personal and social effects of physical changes and most important, the timing of these changes. Being an early maturer or a late maturer (one year earlier or later than average) affects adolescents satisfaction with their appearance and their body image. Early maturing boys tend to have less self – control and emotional stability than later maturing boys. Girls who mature early experience more depression and anxiety, have lower self- esteem and are generally less satisfied with their weight and appearance (Caspi & Moffit, 1991). They tend to be embarrassed that their bodies are more womanly than those of their female classmates. This could lead to behavioral and emotional problems.
Parenting styles also affect the psychological development of an adolescent. Parents who remain authoritative – warm and supportive, yet firm about rules and their enforcement tend to have adolescents who come through the adolescent years with the least enduring problems (Steinberg & Morris, 2001). In contrast, adolescents whose parents are rigid or overly permissive tend to encounter more emotional and behavioral problems (Baumrind, 1980).
The psychoanalyst Erik Erikson believed that the major task confronting the adolescent is to develop a sense of identity. The adolescent who forms a sense of identity gains two key benefits, according to Erikson (1998), (1) “a feeling of being at home in one’s body” and (2) “a sense of psychological wellbeing”.
Most developmental psychologists believe that adolescence should be a period of role experimentation for young people to explore various behaviors, interests and ideologies. During this period of “identity crisis”, the adolescent tries to synthesize values and appraisals into a consistent picture; and hence seeks role models. This could be one reason why adolescents hero worship cine-idols, sports personalities, rock stars, political leaders and even follow them on social media.
Piaget’s early work (1932) suggested that people pass through steps in the development of their moral reasoning. Building on Piaget’s work, Lawrence Kohlberg (1976) in his theory of the levels of moral development suggests that adolescents are at the pre-conventional level, in which they rely on abstract principles that go beyond common place views of ethics and morality. Peer pressure can exert a powerful influence on the moral judgments of an adolescent. Teens begin to question the absolute authority of parents, teachers, schools, government and other institutions.
By late adolescence, most teens are less rebellious as they have begun to establish their own identity and their own belief system .Some youth who have reached the highest levels of moral development may choose to participate in demonstrations and protests while other students may volunteer their time for projects that advance ethical principles they hold important.
Longitudinal neuro-imaging studies demonstrate that the adolescent brain continues to mature well into the twenties. This has prompted intense interest in linking neuro-maturation to maturity of judgment. Empirical evidence linking neuro-developmental processes and adolescent real-world behavior remains sparse. Nonetheless, adolescent brain development research is already shaping public policy debates about when individuals should be considered mature for policy purposes.
In the last decade, a growing body of longitudinal neuro- imaging research has demonstrated that adolescence is a period of continued growth and change, challenging the longstanding assumptions that the brain has largely finished maturing by puberty. The frontal lobes, home to the neural circuitry underlying “executive functions” of the brain are among the last areas to mature. They may not be fully developed until halfway through the third decade of life. This has prompted interest in linking stage of maturation to maturity of judgment. Indeed, the promise of a biological explanation for the often puzzling adolescent health risk behavior and impulsivity has captured the attention of the media, parents, policymakers and clinicians alike. Therefore, it may explain also adolescents’ vulnerability to excessive use of internet, especially with the lack of self-regulatory strategies and when parents are unable to offer an external regulation to their offspring.
Executive functions are a set of supervisory cognitive skills needed for goal-directed behavior including response-inhibition, working memory and attention. Poor executive functioning could undermine judgment and decision making.
Emotion is associated with mood, temperament, personality disposition and motivation. Motivations direct and energize behavior while emotions provide the affective component to motivation. Emotional maturity is a combination of apt degree of development and proportionate demand of the situation. It plays a major role towards human beings life satisfaction.
According to Walter D. Smithson (1974), emotional maturity is a process in which the personality is continuously striving for greater sense of emotional health, both intra-psychically and intra-personally.
According to Alexander Magoun, “Emotional maturity is the refined and development ability to understand and use one’s emotions in personally controlled ways.”
Kaplan and Baron (1986) elaborate the characteristics of an emotionally mature person, saying that an emotionally mature person has the capacity to withstand delay in satisfaction of needs. He has the ability to tolerate a reasonable amount of frustration. He has belief in long term planning and is capable of delaying or revising his expectations in terms of demand of situations. An emotionally mature child has the capacity to make effective adjustment with himself, members of his family, peers in school, society and culture. Maturity not only means the capacity to adjust, it also implies living to the fullest within the given scope, without feelings of inferiority or frustration.
The hallmark of an emotionally mature person is remaining calm and composed in the most challenging situations. According to Hollingworth (1928), an emotionally mature person is capable of responding in gradation or degree of emotional responses. He does not respond in all or none fashion, but keeps within bounds. If his hat blows off, he does not blow up.
Bernard (1954) laid down the criteria of mature emotional behavior.
According to Fred McKinney (1960), “the characteristics of an emotionally mature person are hetero-sexuality, appreciation of attitude and behavior of others, tendency to adopt the attitudes and habits of others and capacity to delay his own responses.”