There are four key agents of socialization in today’s society that predominantly affect an adolescent’s behavior in neutral, positive and negative ways. These four agents are family, peers, schools and the culture/society. An agent is much like a catalyst in science; it is the medium for which behaviors are transmitted. With this being said, and the given susceptibility of the adolescent mind as it is still in the developing stages, there are many factors which will be outlined.
Family, almost every adolescent has grown up with one, and if they haven’t, the lack of family still has an impact on their adolescent behavior. The family provides the structure, in many cases showing the rights and wrongs. In the extreme worst, a child has been abused, and has grown up without any motherly or fatherly love to guide them in the right direction. This child’s cognitive and psycho-social development will be majorly skewed. They will most likely have no friends due to lack of ability to interact with others, they will also have trouble differentiating between rights and wrongs causing them to be a trouble maker. This is because the prefrontal cortex is still in development. In the neutral to good, the adolescent has been raised by caring and loving parents. These parents shape them to strive to be the best person they can be. It is the most important stage for development, and defines how the adolescent will interact through the other agents.
The next agent is peer groups, by the younger age of two or three, children begin to come into contact with other peers of the same age. Adolescents begin to see a new world of personality; they also begin to become aware of how they appear to other people. The traits parents deemed to be cute and did not wish to be rid of are now unacceptable among other children. This can be seen as good, because now the child is beginning to understand what it is to be social. Children learn a lot from their peers, not always the good. Some peers who were poorly raised in the family section may rub off on others with negative traits. The pressure to conform places new expectations on these children, which an lead to behavior problems and quarrels. Peers have a large effect on the development of these adolescents, and this development can affect many other stages of their lives.
The third agent of socialization, being school, is also very pertinent. Schools goal is to socialize children in knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for them to function as adults in society. It is much like peer socialization in that many of the social skills are still developing with others while going through school. School is good because it teaches many skills necessary to adolescents in the future. If one doesn’t go to school, they miss out on many lessons important to function as an adult in the future. For an adolescent to gain everything necessary from school, they need to have had correct family and peer socialization. Without theses the student may have trouble focusing in class, getting poor grade. They may even be a bully throughout the early years and get into serious fights later on.
The last agent of socialization is culture and society. As every person grows up in a unique environment, socialization on a cultural basis will differ. As an example, if a child were running around the supermarket, an American person may yell at them and say “I told you not to do that” and if a Chinese parent’s child did the same, they would ask “how do you think that makes the store owners feel?”, thus encouraging them to think for themselves. Now as these two children grow up, they may be completely different from one another because of simple cultural differences such as that. The child who was yelled at will most likely be the one to make the same mistake again.
All of these agents of socialization prove to have minor or great significances on the developing adolescents mind. Without the proper socialization it may affect them in a negative way.