Highlights of Age of Opportunity include:
• explanations for prolonged adolescence. Some are physiological: higher obesity rates, for example, trigger earlier adolescence and its accompanying release of sex hormones that affect behavior. Also, today's young people need more years of education to prepare for success in modern workplaces, keeping them from the full responsibilities of the adult world for longer.
• an exploration of risk-taking behavior in adolescents. Young people tend to engage in riskier behavior than adults, particularly when with peers. This attraction to daring exploits now accompanies most people well into their 20s.
• suggestions for how to take advantage of adolescents' remarkable neuroplasticity. According to Steinberg, studies indicate that adolescent brains are particularly malleable, giving young people a heightened capacity for learning. Steinberg believes that educators should respect this period of development the same way they do a child's preschool years, since adolescents show the kind of capacity for growth and learning previously associated with young children. Steinberg also proposes that qualities like determination and perseverance be prioritized in education for adolescents. To be successful, young people need to stay motivated to work through more education than ever before, so patience is more a virtue than ever.
Whether you have a generalized interest in societal issues or are struggling through your own offspring's extended adolescence -- or even if you are a millennial in the midst of your own developmental years -- Steinberg poses some interesting reasons for how and when young people develop.