Scientists say adolescence now lasts until 24 years old
It’s looking like kids today are kids for a lot longer than they used to be. A group of scientists are making the case for redefining the period of “adolescence” to stretch from roughly 13 years old all the way to 24 — instead of the current cap at 19 years old.
The new proposed age grouping is a product of a changing society where bodies are developing differently and young people are taking longer to do things like move out of their parents’ homes, get jobs, get married, and have children. It’s also apparently a way to protect younger people during an unpredictable time of social change. The authors of the study note that,
According to the BBC, puberty is happening earlier than ever before, and our brains continue to develop well beyond the age of 20.
Not everyone agrees, however. Some researchers believe that extending the period of adolescence could be harmful to the development of young people. Dr. Jan Macvarish, a parenting sociologist at the University of Kent, said, “Older children and young people are shaped far more significantly by society’s expectations of them than by their intrinsic biological growth.”
In other words, positing that young people aren’t adults until after age 24 could mean that young people won’t try to act like adults until that point. Dr. Macvarish said, “Society should maintain the highest possible expectations of the next generation.”
Professor Susan Sawyer, director of the Centre for Adolescent Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, doesn’t agree. She believes that a broader definition of adolescence is imperative for the “framing of laws, social policies, and service systems.”
What do you think? Would you be comfortable being defined as an “adolescent” at 24?