The study was mainly based on the concept that adolescence is a very challenging stage of development because specific behaviors associated with near-adulthood are established. Decisions are often made at their early age and these actions often affect the future of these young adults. In addition, adolescence is often coupled with major problems such as academic grades and achievement, depression and alcohol drinking. Analysts have recognized that these three adolescent behaviors often predict what kind of future these adolescents will face.
Teenage alcohol drinking has been considered as a major public health problem because it affects both middle and high school students. It has been observed that by the senior year in high school, almost 60% of the students have had the experience of being intoxicated in at least one instance. Moreover, the cause of adolescent drinking has evolved from peer pressure to peer selection, which equates to the establishment of friendship and secondarily as a claim to the nearing stage of adulthood.
There is also the other perception of adolescents that alcohol is a tool that may be used to “heal” the emotional stress that they experience during this developmental stage. Normative realization is generally regarded as a reflection of academic achievement and/or participation in school activities. Any deflections from this pattern may thus be considered as indicators of deterioration in the developmental stages of adolescence. The study was thus developed in order to determine the association of social, psychological and normative conditions in the adolescence life stage.
It has been observed that most adolescents perceive academics as a hindrance in their daily lives and that socialization is much more important for their survival. The factor in adapting a drinking behavior has thus been an enigma to child psychologists, as they attempt to determine whether the drinking habit was initiated prior to the lowered grades or that the low grades influenced an adolescent to modify his lifestyle to include the drinking habit. Hypothesis. The study was conducted to address two hypotheses.
The first hypothesis states that the as adolescents learn to drink alcohol, girls tend to drink less frequently than what will be observed among the boys. In addition, the condition of depression among girls is higher than the boys yet girls tend to achieve higher academic grades. The second hypothesis states that more frequent drinking bouts will results in more depression as well as a decrease in the academic grades of adolescents. As with regards to gender differences, the effect will be observed to be more serious among girls. Research design.
The study involved approximately 1,105 9th grade students from a public high school in Minnesota. The students were interviewed once a year for four years, regardless of moving to another school or state. Information on the initiation of drinking was collected, as well as episodes of depression and academic standing. Measurement scales were created to allow quantification of data being collected, such as a scale ranging from 0 to 6 to describe the drinking frequency per year, with 0 representing no drinks at all to 6 which represented at least 40 drinks in a year.
A depression scale was also employed from a previous published report. The grades of the students were described as the numerical value employed by the school system. Data analysis. All data that was collection from the study was analyzed using a latent growth curve that provides an estimation of growth differences among student subjects. Any changes in the frequency of each variable (drinking frequency, depression, or school grades) were multiplied by a function value in order to construct trajectory. The linear association of each variable was also determined, as well as any gender differences among the variables.
Results of the study. The investigation showed that all three variables increased among the students as they coursed through high school. The study showed that the first hypothesis was correct, wherein girls are in a more serious state of depression than the boys and that this gender had more focus and drive to attain higher grades in school. The research results also show that the second hypothesis was correct, wherein the depressed conditions of the boys and girls worsen as they continue on in high school and that their frequency in drinking increased as they grew older.
Those students that were able to get over their depression ceased drinking, while those still feeling the same distress continued on, strengthening the notion that adolescents tend to perceive alcohol as a cure for their distress. Possible threats to validity. The research study involved student subjects of different races, including white and black Americans, Hispanics and Asians. It is thus possible that not only the three variables of social, psychological and normative realization were influencing the drinking, depression and the school grades of the students.
It would also thus be probable that cultural differences may have affected the conditions of the students and have pushed them to adapt juvenile adolescent behavior. The study only involves approximately 1,105 students from one school and thus it is also possible that not all school will show the same results as what was observed in this study. A better scenario for the investigators was to conduct a multi-center study using several schools in order to avoid any skewing of data that is being collected.
Another possible shortcoming of the research was that the socio-economic status of the family of these children may have also influenced the behavior of these students. It has been observed that adolescents who have more access to finances have greater chances of including drinking in their social activities. The socio-economic status of the adolescent’s family also influences the student’s access to educational resources for his high school studies, including opportunities to receive tutorial that are very helpful in improving school grades.
The study also did not investigate the attitudes of the students to drinking, depression and school grades. It should be noted that students have different perspectives on these topics and thus it would also be interesting to know how these students perceive such topics. There are also cases wherein students excel in school yet they still maintain their drinking activities outside school and thus it would be interesting to know how this scenario can be included in the observations of this research program. Conclusions. The research article of Owens et al.
(2008) describes the three developmental stages that are commonly observed among adolescents. Social and psychological developmental stages and normative realization are often measured through adolescent behaviors and outcomes such as depression, alcohol consumption and academic grades. The research report provides a tool for realizing the importance of examining the combinatorial effect of these three developmental stages as these individuals mature into adulthood. The research article provides scientific proof that the drinking habit that is adapted by adolescents is generally the result of an opportunistic circumstance.
The scenario that adolescents drink alcohol because they could do so is the simplest and most straightforward explanation for such behavior and unfortunately, this action is carried on towards adulthood. In addition, the research report also provide another way to look into such habit, wherein there are certain adolescents that could still maintain high grades despite the adaptation of a drinking habit. The article also provides a good description of the journey that adolescents take during the four years in high school.
There annual monitoring of the student participants provides an actual setting and tracking of the behavior of adolescents as they mature. The pitfalls of the research also provide additional factors that have to be considered in subsequent research efforts that would like to investigate further on this topic. It would be interesting to determine the effect of culture and socioeconomic status on the three developmental stages of adolescence. In addition, the perceptions of adolescents on drinking, education and depression would also be helpful in the establishment of associations between developmental stages and specific adolescent behavior.
This research report provides important points that should be considered both by parents and school officials. One is that drinking is not a simple habit that is adapted by adolescents, but is actually an indicator that something is bothering the adolescent and his immaturity may have influenced him to think that drinking might be an answer to his distress. It is therefore important that both parents and school officials be vigilant of adolescent behavior, especially during the freshman years because these are the most awkward and difficult times during high school.
The paper also provides a descriptive report on the differences in coping mechanisms between girls and boys. This research report has shown that girls do get depressed more easily and deeply than boys, but the same gender is more capable of recovering from such difficult condition and completes high school education with better grades than boys.
Reference Owens, T. J. , Shippee, N. D. and Hensel, D. J. (2008). Emotional distress, drinking, and academic achievement across the adolescent life course. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 37(10), 1242–1256.