When we are children, we can’t wait to become adults. We think that when we turn 18, we’ll finally know what it feels like to be a grown-up, with all the perks. And while the United Nations says an adolescent is a person between 10 and 19 years of age, a new study claims you’re still not an adult at 24.
We, at ViralSection, decided to find out why scientists believe that those who were considered adults earlier are now seen as adolescents. Let’s see what the research says.
How our brain and body change
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Adolescence starts with puberty. And because health and nutrition have become better in the past decades, it now begins at 10, when certain hormones become activated.
Surprisingly, the previous definition of adolescence didn’t take biological development into account when deciding when this life phase ends. While it was considered to be 19, many biological changes continue into a person`s 20s.
For example, wisdom teeth typically come in when you are in your mid-20s. Certain brain maturation processes that are crucial to social relationships also occur during this decade. The new definition takes these biological changes into account, which is why these findings can be considered more accurate.
Our social roles
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Young adults, who are 24 and under, can still be considered adolescents because their major life milestones are delayed. People are marrying and becoming parents later. In the USA, the average marriage age in the 1960s was 21, and it changed to 28 in 2015.
Education has become more accessible and affordable, and people are deciding to dedicate more time to that and to training before getting a job. It can also be difficult for some young adults to become financially independent. They still need support from their parents, which makes them semi-dependent, meaning they’re not fully adults even though their age says they are.
Why it’s important to define who adolescents are
To define who an adolescent is, we need to look at our biology and at recent social changes combined. This definition should also become part of our laws and social policies.
This can help improve the overall well-being of young people, with their health, education, and employment benefitting from this. For example, raising the age of adolescence to 24 could help provide housing to this age group during transitional life stages.
Healthcare policies often expect adolescents to either be financially supported by their parents, or fully independent. Because people in their 20s, especially, need mental health, sexual health, and substance abuse services, and because many of them still rely on financial support from their parents, a lot of them can’t afford to pay for it.
A possible problem
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Because some young adults would still be considered adolescents, they could be seen as incompetent by those who are older than them and who are legally considered adults. So, important social and political decisions, some of which might affect their age group directly, could be made without their participation.
In the workplace, this could make young people feel like they aren’t being taken seriously and like their decisions and opinions don’t carry as much weight as those of their adult colleagues. And it’s not because they themselves feel that they’re not ready or don’t have enough experience, but because others see them that way.
What do you think about this new age range of adolescence? Do you think that young people are becoming adults later? Have you noticed this change in the past years? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
Preview photo credit Invision/Invision/East News