The adult world is deeply ambivalent about adolescent social relationships. We fear the power and effects of peer influence and worry about the impact of social media. Yet, our youth are remarkably lonely and have only grown more so over the past 15 years. This talk will address this ambivalence and make the case that forming strong bonds with peers is the key social developmental task of adolescence, with a surprising range of lifelong implications. The talk will then go on to describe a unique intervention, The Connection Project, designed to address youths’ growing need for (and difficulty establishing) the deep peer relationships needed to support their growth and development. Promising data from randomized trials will be presented, along with discussion of the issues involved in scaling successful interventions for youth.
The Lois Bloom Lecture is hosted annually by the Child Study Center at Penn State.