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"They come in without the kind of reckless disregard of consequence that a more confident generation of kids had, who said, 'I'll drop out of school and join the peace movement, what the hell.'" With fewer career paths available to those without a college degree, she said, young people can no longer afford that kind of nonchalance."They're absorbing the same kind of anxiety about the future that their parents have for them."Chiara Power, 15, of San Juan Island, Washington, has no interest in dating, driving, working for pay or drinking alcohol - and the rising costs of college keep her up at night."I'm already panicking and having nightmares about the student loans that I'll never escape, and I'm worried that I'm going to end up homeless," she said. "They're just like, 'Dude, that's not happening for the next three years, so chill. But Haskew wonders whether her daughter is missing out on life lessons those behaviors can teach.
"Climate change is super real and it's obviously happening as we speak," she said.
They are in good company, according to a new study showing that teenagers are increasingly delaying activities that had long been seen as rites of passage into adulthood.
The study, published Tuesday in the journal Child Development, found that the percentage of adolescents in the U. who have a driver's license, who have tried alcohol, who date, and who work for pay has plummeted since 1976, with the most precipitous decreases in the past decade.
In recent decades parents have become more restrictive about independent activities, and laws in some states have codified this, banning children from going out in public or staying home without adult accompaniment.(Legislation has also delayed another adult activity: In the 1970s the legal drinking age was as young as 18 in some states; it is now 21 almost universally.)To Daniel Siegel, an adolescent psychiatrist and author of "Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain," it makes sense that adolescents would "remodel" their brains to adapt to a society that has changed since the 19th century."In a culture that says, 'Okay, you're going to go to high school, go to college, go to graduate school, and then get an internship, and you're not going to really be responsible till your late 20s,' well then the brain will respond accordingly," he said.
Whether the changes are positive or negative depends on the reasons for delaying adult activities, Siegel said.
In the first scenario, "You'd have a lot of kids and be in survival mode, start having kids young, expect your kids will have kids young, and expect that there will be more diseases and fewer resources," said Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University who is the author of "i Gen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy - and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood."A century ago, when life expectancy was lower and college education less prevalent, "the goal back then was survival, not violin lessons by 5," Twenge said.
In that model a teenage boy might be thinking more seriously about marriage, and driving a car and working for pay would be important for "establishing mate value based on procurement of resources," the study said.
And the portion who had tried alcohol plummeted from 93 percent between 19 to 67 percent between 20.
Teens have also reported a steady decline in sexual activity in recent decades, as the portion of high school students who have had sex fell from 54 percent in 1991 to 41 percent in 2015, according to Centers for Disease Control statistics."People say, 'Oh, it's because teenagers are more responsible, or more lazy, or more boring,' but they're missing the larger trend," said Jean Twenge, lead author of the study, which drew on seven large time-lag surveys of Americans.
But America is shifting more toward the slower model, and the change is apparent across the socioeconomic spectrum, Twenge said.
"Even in families whose parents didn't have a college education...families are smaller, and the idea that children need to be carefully nurtured has really sunk in."The postponement of "adult activities" could not be attributed to more homework or extracurricular activities, the study said, noting that teens today spend fewer hours on homework and the same amount of time on extracurriculars as they did in the 1990s (with the exception of community service, which has risen slightly).
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