This Is So Awkward Book Summary - This Is So Awkward Book explained in key points
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This Is So Awkward summary

Cara Natterson & Vanessa Kroll Bennett

Modern Puberty Explained

4.2 (14 ratings)
19 mins
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    This Is So Awkward
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    Modern puberty hits different

    Remember puberty? For most of us, it started around age 11 and lasted 3 or 4 awkward years. But puberty today is shockingly different. It starts far younger, takes much longer, and unfurls alongside the confusing whirlwind that is social media.

    Puberty is traditionally defined as the path to sexual maturity – including everything from growth spurts to body hair to the first period. But it also brings huge changes to skin, bones, and, most profoundly, the brain. So let's define puberty broadly as all the social, emotional, and physical changes kids undergo on their path to adulthood. 

    These changes should be familiar to any adult. We’re all survivors of puberty! But over the last few decades, the onset and duration of puberty have shifted quite a bit. 

    Research shows that the average age puberty begins has plunged over one year per decade since the 1950s. Why? No one is sure. Factors may include diet, chemicals, and obesity, but the issue is complex. While periods start around the same age, kids begin physical changes far younger, creating a huge lag before their brains fully mature in their mid-20s.

    Another change is that puberty itself stretches nearly a decade now versus four years in the past. This means an awkward decade when bodies turn adult but decision-making stays woefully teenager.

    But what impacts modern puberty most has to be social media. Preteens explore identity on apps disconnected from parents, and information spreads fast, for better or worse. It’s no surprise that teenagers have more body image issues than ever before. Stress, anxiety and depression are on the rise too. 

    Puberty will never be easy. But understanding its evolution helps everyone adjust. With social changes from technology to new norms around gender and sexuality, parents have a responsibility to compassionately guide kids through this rite of passage. Because one thing never changes – kids need the loving support of their parents as they develop into adults.

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    What is This Is So Awkward about?

    This Is So Awkward (2023) is the ultimate guide to navigating the cringeworthy, bewildering realm of adolescence. Blending scientific insight with compassion and frankness, this indispensable toolkit helps adults support teens through the tumultuous journey growing up.

    Who should read This Is So Awkward?

    • Parents of tweens and teens looking for guidance on puberty-related issues
    • Teachers looking for advice on leading puberty education and supporting students
    • Coaches and mentors interested in understanding teen experience 

    About the Author

    Cara Netterson is a pediatrician and a leading voice on puberty and adolescent health. She’s written several books, including the bestselling The Care & Keeping of You series, with over seven million copies in print.

    Vanessa Kroll Bennett is a puberty expert, writer, and podcaster who helps adults navigate uncertainty while supporting kids. She is co-host of The Puberty Podcast & founder of Dynamo Girl, a company building kids’ self-esteem through sports and education.

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