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In studying adolescent development, adolescence can be defined biologically, as the physical transition marked by the onset of puberty and the termination of physical growth; cognitively, as changes in the ability to think abstractly and multi-dimensionally; or socially, as a period of preparation for adult roles.
Major pubertal and biological changes include changes to the sex organs, height, weight, and muscle mass, as well as major changes in brain structure and organization.
Physical growth (particularly in males), and cognitive development can extend into the early twenties.
Thus age provides only a rough marker of adolescence, and scholars have found it difficult to agree upon a precise definition of adolescence.
Nearly half of all American high school girls' diets are to lose weight.
However, early puberty is not always positive for boys; early sexual maturation in boys can be accompanied by increased aggressiveness due to the surge of hormones that affect them.
Because they appear older than their peers, pubescent boys may face increased social pressure to conform to adult norms; society may view them as more emotionally advanced, despite the fact that their cognitive and social development may lag behind their appearance.
Puberty occurs through a long process and begins with a surge in hormone production, which in turn causes a number of physical changes.
It is the stage of life characterized by the appearance and development of secondary sex characteristics (for example, a deeper voice and larger adam's apple in boys, and development of breasts and more curved and prominent hips in girls) and a strong shift in hormonal balance towards an adult state.