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.
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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."