In Mind Fields, Thomas J. Cottle argues that the period known as adolescence is essentially a social construct influenced greatly by popular culture. To understand young people, therefore, is to recognize how the very consciousness of adolescents is shaped by a culture, dominated by the entertainment industry, and the power of television and the computer, constantly urging them to turn away from the normal evolution of their personal and social lives. In this fundamentally distracting environment, young people explore their consciousness, sharing it with others, as well as form their sense of identity, all the while having these most inner experiences affected as much by the culture as by their own temperaments and personalities. It is the culture that determines the forms of recognition and independence, as well as intimacy and attachment that adolescents must learn. In the end, the author argues for the value of self-reflection as a critical ingredient of identity formation and a fundamental antidote to distracting cultural influences.