Sorry, teens, you may have youth on your side, you may be tech-savvy, you may be destined to take all of our jobs then give them to robots as us oldies fade away into the dust of 2007 fashion and 90s nostalgia.
But guess what: You’re not teen rebels, like we were.
At least, not by the metrics us old people use to define the world ‘rebels’ – drinking, smoking, having sex, rather than engaging in political discourse and making a difference on the internet. And those are the metrics that matter.*
Obviously, that’s not the case. Drinking, having sex, and dating do not make you cool, political discourse is cooler, and we’re just desperate to feel like we’re better than young people at something.
New research suggests that teenagers are less likely to engage in radical activities including drinking booze, having sex, or dating, my dudes.
They’re also not doing more standard adult activities such as going out without their parents or getting paid jobs, which could mean that today’s teens get a bit of a shock when they leave their family home and go it alone. Adolescence has slowed, basically, in terms of the rebellious behaviours and the more responsible ones.
The study, published in the journal Child Development, analysed survey responses from 8.3million teenagers aged between 13 and 19 over the last 40 years (1976 to 2016), and found that today’s young people are less likely to be doing ‘adult’ activities than teenagers did in previous decades.
Basically, today’s 18-year-olds are acting more like 15-year-olds from previous decades, skipping sex, booze, and learning to drive.
So, yes, you could say that today’s teens are virgins that can’t drive. They probably won’t get that reference.
Researchers reckon this is down to modern teens’ preference for spending time on the internet rather than engaging in naughty behaviours like drinking or smoking, but note that the trend for the slowing of adolescence began before smartphones became a thing.
When researchers tracked the teens’ activities, they found modern teenagers were spending more time on the internet than previous generations. Probably looking at memes on the webs, right?
They suggest that adolescence is slowing down, with teenagers growing up more slowly than they used to. Adult activities ranging from drinking and partying to more responsible stuff, like getting a job or driving, are happening later on.
This trend is noticeable in people that go into teenagehood in 2010, who are less likely to do paid work, drive, date, drink alcohol, have sex, and even go out without their parents than teenagers in previous decades.
That’s regardless of gender, race, location, and socioeconomic status, suggesting it’s a massive cultural shift.
It’s unclear whether this is good or bad.