Is 18 the new 15? Today’s teens drink and date less than in the 70s, study says


Is 18 the new 15? Today’s teens drink and date less than in the 70s, study says

Teens aren’t in a rush to grow up. They’re not as interested in dating, snagging jobs or even driving, according to a new report. 

Researchers from San Diego State University and Bryn Mawr College conducted a study to determine how soon adolescents engage in adult activities. 

To do so, they compared teenagers from the 70s, 80s and 90s with today’s kiddos, using surveys that questioned more than 8 million children, ages 13 to 19, from 1976 to 2016. The poll focused on topics including sex, alcohol and part-time jobs, and it also factored in race, region and gender. 

After analyzing the results, they found that kids were not having sex, drinking or holding jobs nearly as much as those from 20 years ago. 

Among 8th graders, only about half of them had held down a job or tried alcohol, compared to kids in the 90s. As for older teens or those in the 12th grade, the number of youth getting their driver’s license, working, drinking and dating was down nearly 20 percent, compared to those from 40 years ago. 

"The developmental trajectory of adolescence has slowed, with teens growing up more slowly than they used to," co-author Jean M. Twenge, said in a statement. "In terms of adult activities, 18-year-olds now look like 15-year-olds once did."

While researchers could not pinpoint why minors engage in fewer adult activities, they say homework or extracurricular activities were not a factor as those activities had decreased among 8th and 12th graders and was steady for 12th graders and college students.

However, they believe their findings, which were recently published in Child Development, could be associated with increased internet and social media usage.

"Our study suggests that teens today are taking longer to embrace both adult responsibilities (such as driving and working) and adult pleasures (such as sex and alcohol)," co-author Heejung Park, said in the statement. "These trends are neither good nor bad, but reflect the current U.S. cultural climate."

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