ADOLESCENCE: The challenges of growing up in the postmodern age

In the postmodern age, young people may be exposed to many challenges during the sensitive period of growing up. Adolescence, the very heart of youth, a period of life when most of us are blessed with the vitality and beauty of youth, flexibility on a psychological plane, as well as the ability to quickly recover from injuries, can give rise to some crisis situations. It is easiest to describe the period of adolescence as a transition period from childhood to adulthood, in which a kind of renaissance occurs. We mature on an intellectual, physical, and social level. The final maturation process also depends on many external, social factors and circumstances.

One of the basic characteristics of adolescence is the search for one’s identity, which is often accompanied by a strong desire for independence from adults, primarily from parents, then from teachers and other authorities. On the other hand, the extended schooling process, which often goes back to the late twenties, makes young people economically dependent on their parents longer, which prolongs adolescence, thus creating a space that can be filled with dramatic events.

An important task of adolescence is also to form a sexual identity and to experience yourself as a partner in a relationship. First loves can therefore be painful, they carry certain lessons, they have their share in the formation of the adolescent’s identity, a future adult. At the same time, adolescence is also a time of great separation. The young man says goodbye to his entire past. First, the adolescent is forgiven for the emotional security and carelessness of childhood, and in the final stages of adolescence they say goodbye to parental dependence.


Problems in relationships with peers

One of the challenges that young people, from an early stage of adolescence, can face, similar to children, is exposure to peer violence and other peer relationships. The most common forms of peer violence are physical and verbal violence, but it can occur in a modality of emotional, sexual, cultural and economic violence, and nowadays, cyberbullying is relatively common. Exposure to peer violence can have far-reaching consequences in adulthood, in the form of emotional problems and interpersonal relationships, and this phenomenon certainly requires the full attention of social structures.


Addictions, comparison with unattainable ideals, self-destructive behaviors

The challenges of growing up in modern times are the possibility of overuse, with the possible development of addiction to computer games, social networks, as well as pathological gambling and exposure to psychostimulant. This is often a trap that will often lead to serious pathology and socially unacceptable behavior in adulthood. When young people are caught by gambling’s passion for profit, and on the wings of a false sense of omnipotence, an otherwise common companion to the adolescent period, some will not choose the means to feed their craving.

An aggravating circumstance nowadays, which appreciates material values and high achievement, is the daily bombardment of young people, pictures of some distant, fascinating and exotic places, as well as information about some new professions, through which at least in the eyes of young and naive adolescents, whose psychological development still underway, and at the same time they do not have much needed life experience, possible easy earnings whether working from home or even traveling the world. Also, thousands of pictures of beautiful people are available through the media every day, which in comparison to young people can contribute to comparing their appearance to hard-to-reach ideals, which in reality can be “photoshopped” and “pulled through filters”. If young people persist in comparing with such unattainable ideals, problems with low self-esteem are possible, and in sensitive individuals such circumstances may contribute to the development of some serious disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia. In some young people, it may also be possible to develop an over-emphasized tendency for expensive and sometimes unnecessary cosmetic procedures.

When all information is readily available, at the click of a mouse, adolescents are young and inexperienced at the same time, and eager for material resources, some of them will be susceptible to trying their luck through the always unpredictable dice. Unfortunately, there is an abundance of such live and online offers available, all of which can be very attractive to young people, much like a variety of computer games, communicating over the internet or mobile applications, or simply watching easily accessible attractive videos. As adolescents do not yet have their personality fully built up, they can easily lose control of the time they devote to such content and engage in such activities without self-control and measure, which can then easily cross the line of addictive behavior.

Pathological betting is often based on a sense of gain and a sense that they will succeed this time and that this time they will “visit Fortuna”, open the horn of abundance and give them great material satisfaction. According to one theory, people with a gambling problem actually like to lose, because when they win something, many of them immediately invest it in their next attempt to win, without being able to resist it. For many such people, they often find themselves denied the love they experienced during the early stages of growing up.

Consumption of various psychoactive substances, from socially acceptable ones such as smoking tobacco or consuming some alcoholic beverages, to cannabis consumption, “snuffing”, consumption of heroin, cocaine, amphetamines and other addictive substances, are also among the challenges facing today. adolescents but also children. More recent research shows a significant percentage of youth consuming the resources that can lead to addiction. Drinking beer and smoking tobacco is a common occurrence today in almost every high school. Unfortunately, even deadly alcohol intoxication at parties is not uncommon, as can occasionally be read in the daily chronicles. Overdose deaths occur not only in addicted to addictive diseases but also in accidental, unaccustomed and occasional users of psychoactive substances, who are often very young.

Also, some adolescents may resort to self-destructive behaviors, which can range from self-harming by carving the skin, most of the forearm, to suicide attempts. Such a response can present a psychopathological internal challenge, triggered by a number of possible external circumstances, and is not always a consequence of a deeper psychic experience. It is always important to take every such attempt seriously and seek professional help (family doctor, pediatrician, psychologist, psychiatrist).



Instead of a conclusion, we will say that our adolescents are always dear and sweet to us. Most of them will overcome the challenges of adolescence and develop into mature and responsible young people. However, if problems occur in adolescence, it is advisable to seek the advice of a pediatrician, family doctor, psychologist, or pediatric and adolescent psychiatrist, and sometimes talking with a school educator, psychologist can be helpful.

It is important to listen to the needs of young people, to support them on their way to growing up, and to be sure to prevent potential more difficult problems that young people in modern times may encounter.

It is important to respond in time and see what troubles our young people, what difficulties they may be facing, how they see and experience their problems, all in order to help them in a timely manner before complications such as severe self-harm, feeding difficulties occur. the development of addiction diseases, pathological gambling, and severe behavioral problems and other serious disorders.


By: Dijana Staver, MD, Specialist Psychiatrist


Disclaimer: This is unofficial translation provided for information purposes. Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center cannot be held legally responsible for any translation inaccuracy. 

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