Teenagers are often curious to try things only adults should do, such as driving, drinking, dating or having sex. But this teenage curiosity appears to be a thing of the past as a new study revealed that children of today’s generation are no longer interested in engaging in the responsibilities and pleasures of adulthood.

In a research paper published in the journal Child Development, San Diego State University researchers found that teenagers are delaying the activities that are considered part of the developmental pathway of adulthood.

According to Chicago Tribune, statistics on teens who date, who engage in sexual activities, who have a driver’s license, who have tried alcohol and who work to earn money showed a decrease since 1976.

The theory

With the recent findings, many people might have the reaction that the teens of today are becoming more responsible, while some might say they’re becoming boring and lazy.

But according to study lead author Jean Twenge, a “larger trend” is missing.

Twenge explained that adolescents are becoming less interested in engaging in activities like dating and getting jobs because they feel these are no longer needed today. Another theory that the study pointed out is that an individual’s “life strategy” is dependent on the kind of environment or surroundings he or she is currently in.

With that said, “harsh and unpredictable” surroundings often lead to faster development. A “secure and more resource-rich” environment, on the other hand, leads to slower development.

The researchers also found that the United States is drifting toward the slower model. Twenge said the shift is seen across all “socioeconomic” groups.

Role of modern technology

The SDSU team, however, stressed that extracurricular activities and homework could not be blamed for the delay in engaging in adult activities.

The reason? Adolescents are spending the same amount of time on after-school activities. However, they spend less time on school assignments today, compared to the teens in the ‘90s.

So, what is the real culprit in the delay? According to the researchers, modern technology and the internet could be blamed for this “slow life strategy,” which is reportedly making children unprepared for college and adult life, New York Daily News reported.

Mental health crisis

Due to the thriving digital era, many teens are more comfortable spending their time online. Even though this move may appear “physically safer,” The Atlantic noted that they are on the verge of a “mental health crisis.”

Without driving, dating, sexual activities and getting a taste of alcohol, the adolescents of today’s generation are safer than ever.

Unfortunately, they are not safe psychologically because they are more vulnerable to mental health problems such as suicide and depression.

The publication explained that independence was powerfully appealing to previous generations. However, this trend shifted in today’s teens, especially in terms of their emotional states and behavior.

Furthermore, the changes between today’s generation and their predecessors were not only seen in “degree” but also in “kind.” The most outright differences among them are in terms of how they perceived the world and how they spend their time.


The publication then concluded that the current generation, which is considered the “iGen,” has been shaped by modern innovations such as the smartphones and the increasing influence of social media.

The arrival of these innovations also paved the way for a common problem that most parents are experiencing — the “screen time” dilemma.

The impact of modern technology, however, is not fully recognized despite the fact that it affected “every aspect” of a teen’s life. It does not only affect their social life but also their mental health.

As the technological evolution continues, the profound impacts in the lives of teenagers also deepened, making them unhappy, so the rates of teen suicide and depression are currently on the rise. Apart from teenage life, the culture, parenting styles, and school curricula are also radically shifting.

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