Contrary to popular perception, today’s teenagers are actually growing up more slowly than their predecessors, with 18-year-olds now behaving like 15-year-olds of yesteryears, suggests new research.
- The findings suggest that today’s teenagers are taking longer to engage in adult activities such as drinking alcohol, working, driving, or having sex.
- The developmental trajectory of adolescence has slowed, with teenagers growing up more slowly than they used to,” explained Expert.
- “In terms of adult activities, 18-year-olds now look like 15-year-olds once did,”Expert said.
- The researchers examined how often teenagers engaged in activities that adults do and that children do not.
- Including dating, working for pay, going out without parents, driving and having sex.
- They analysed seven large surveys of 8.3 million 13- to 19-year-olds between 1976 and 2016.
- The surveys were nationally representative, reflecting the population of US teenagers in terms of gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status and geographic region.
- In the surveys, teenagers were asked how they used their time, including their engagement in one or more adult activities.
- Allowing researchers to compare teens in the 2010s to teenagers in the 2000s, 1990s, 1980s and 1970s.
- The study found that today’s adolescents are less likely than their predecessors to take part in activities typically undertaken by adults.
- The researchers also examined how changes in family size, life expectancy, education.
- And the economy may have influenced the speed at which teenagers take on adult activities.
- The trend toward engaging in fewer adult activities cannot be explained by time spent on homework or extracurricular activities.
- Because time doing those activities decreased among eighth and tenth graders and was steady among twelfth graders and college students, the researchers said.
- The decline may be linked to the time teenagers spend online, which increased markedly, the authors noted.