Adolescents at Unilag show
First year students of the University of Lagos enjoying a show. Photo © 2010 Bic Leu. Audio after 2nd Par. is early ’90s song, Omode by Funmi Adams

Adolescence is the period of development from the onset of puberty, to the attainment of adulthood, hence the transitional period between childhood and adulthood. The WHO pegs this between the ages of ten and nineteen years. Adolescence is characterized by physical maturation of the brain and body, giving rise to intense psychological and physical change, often followed with heightened turmoil and stress. Over 22% of the Nigerian population belong to this group, representing, according to the British Medical Journal of 2003, one in three African adolescents.

Adolescent sexuality have been known in Nigeria to be shaped by roles of family socio-economic background, peer influence, prolongation of adolescence resulting from longer years of schooling, and a number of other factors. The role of online sexual activities, a rather recent phenomenon, remains an area yet to be addressed by researchers. Adolescents exposed to sexually explicit information online are significantly more likely to be involved in real life risk-bearing sexual practises. A study by professors of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 2003 shows that secondary school students in Nigeria (surveyed in Jos, Plateu state) from a polygamous family structure are more likely to have engaged in sexual activity than students from a monogamous family structure. This goes to show that a sense of attachment to parents may serve to restrain adolescents, even though a third of them, as found in a survey of in-school adolescents in Ile-Ife by Omobunwa&Co. of the Community Medicine department of Osun State University, did not see anything wrong with pre-marital sex.  Onipede Wusu of the Convenant University found religiosity to contribute negligibly to chastity in Lagos adolescents, but also found that girls are more likely to keep one partner when they engage in religious activities.

Although little is known about the prevalence of Obesity among Nigerian adolescents, research in miniature urban communities have suggested that it is low, though a higher percentage, represented more by girls, are shown to be overweight. As they enter adolescent age, girls tend to show concern about their weight and shape, sometimes becoming depressed, as reported by Ajidahun in European Journal for business and Social Science. Failure in school work, peer rejection, and less than close relationship with a considered best friend were included by Ajidahun as factors increasing depression tendencies. Alcohol consumption, though heavily decided by peer pressure, is significantly dependent, according to Bada of Ekiti State University, on the adolescent’s family and religion.

More than any other age group, the adolescent spend a lot of time listening to music. This serves them as a mood regulator and researches has been consistent in indicating that the need for love, autonomy, identity, and sexuality in the adolescent is reflected in the genres of music favoured by them. The global television transmitted through the cable or the internet are found to have impacted on the demeanour of dressing for both sexes, among other things, causing a cultural conflict and creating a  gap between many teenagers and their parents.  Adolescents themselves have widened the gap by inventing their own sub-language, which is peculiar to them and understood only by them.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer