If you remember your parents cracking the shits because you spent your holidays lazing on the couch playing video games (or maybe that was just me?) instead of “growing up” and getting a part-time job or furthering your study after high school, it seems they might have been a tad harsh and a few years off the mark.
Scientists now believe adolescence, previously thought to have ended once you hit 19, now stretches to the age of 24. In the journal Lancet Child & Adolescent Health released earlier this year, lead author Professor Susan Sawyer argues the biological and social development associated with the transition from being a teenager to an adult takes much longer than it did with previous generations.
This statement is very true when it comes to the biological side of things, with the average age of puberty steadily dropping over the years. Neuroscientists have also found the brain continues to change and mature until a person reaches their mid-20s.
Along with changes to the body, young people are taking longer to leave home, find a partner and have children, meaning they are living in a prolonged state of semi-dependency. This is backed up by a recent study conducted by researchers at San Diego State University and Bryn Mawr College that found today’s teenagers are less likely to indulge in sex and drinking when compared to older generations.
The study collected data from a diverse group of more than eight million 13 to 19-year-olds from 1976 to 2016, asking them what they did in their leisure time. The results found young people hit independence milestones, such as getting a drivers license or a part-time job much later in life than their parents did. This also extends to their social life, with the majority of teens spending more time at home on their phones, meaning they are less likely to experiment with sex, alcohol and drugs until later in life.
Columbia University psychiatrist Mirjana Domakonda summed it up best by saying; “Twenty-five is the new 18, and delayed adolescence is no longer a theory, but a reality. In some ways, we’re all in a ‘psychosocial moratorium,’ experimenting with society where swipes constitute dating and likes are the equivalent of conversation.”
Put simply, young adults are more invested in the online world than the real one, meaning it now takes them longer to adjust to living outside the bubble of social media and achieving worthwhile goals such as getting a career or starting a family.
While the findings will annoying the Baby Boomer generation, millennials will no doubt welcome the news, meaning they can take advantage of living at mum and dads for an extra few years before venturing out into the real world.