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The Handbook of Lifespan Communication


Edited By Jon F. Nussbaum

The Handbook of Lifespan Communication is the foundational scholarly text that offers readers a state of the art view of the varied and rich areas of lifespan communication research. The fundamental assumptions of lifespan communication are that the very nature of human communication is developmental, and, to truly understand communication, change across time must be incorporated into existing theory and research. Beginning with chapters on lifespan communication theory and methodologies, chapters are then organized into the various phases of life: early childhood, adolescence, emerging adulthood, middle adulthood, and older adulthood. Top scholars across several disciplines have contributed to chapters within their domains of expertise, highlighting significant horizons that will guide researchers for years to come.
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Chapter Eleven: Emerging Adults in College: Communication, Friendships, and Risky Sexual Behaviors

← 216 | 217 → CHAPTER ELEVEN


Communication, Friendships, and Risky Sexual Behaviors


“Eventually, it was time to grow up, be healthy and be responsible. You can’t live like a kid forever, you know?”


Movies like Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds, Dead Man on Campus, and Old School demonstrate the role college plays in a young person’s participation in risky behaviors such as partying, drinking, drug use, and sexual experimentation while navigating the journey to find one’s self. This journey of self-exploration is reflected in a unique life stage called Emerging Adulthood, including the subsample of college students, with members aged 18 to 28 (e.g., Arnett, 2000; Collins & van Dulmen, 2006). Emerging adults are no longer considered children or minors under the thumb of their parents, and emerging adults are not yet taking on the responsibilities, obligations, and permanence of being adults. Instead, they are focused on their identity exploration (Arnett, 2004a, 2006). Their freedom from adult responsibilities and journey to establish identity within the college environment can put emerging adults at risk for lifelong detrimental consequences such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), infertility, and other emotional, mental, and financial difficulties.

College provides many academic and social events that enrich one’s personal and professional growth; however, it also offers dangerous opportunities to try and/or continue risky sexual behaviors that are often fueled by alcohol and drug usage. For example, the college environment is ripe for casual sex interactions through...

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