In a new study, a group of scientists argue that the end of adolescence should be pushed from age 19 to 24. However, critics warn that doing so would only continue to infantilize the younger generations.
To back their theory, researchers noted that education takes longer and young people are delaying marriage and moving out of their parents’ house. Study authors argue that the definition of adolescence should be changed to match current realities and assure that laws and state policies remain relevant.
The research paper was published this week in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.
However, not all experts agree with a new definition since it could help “further infantilize young people”.
- Adolescence begins with puberty, which is marked by several hormonal changes triggered by that region of the brain called the hypothalamus.
- The new influx of hormones wakes up gonadal and pituitary glands.
Adolescence Seems to Last Longer
Puberty used to set in at the age of 14, but that age has steadily declined to the age of 10 in industrialized countries. In such countries, girls have their first period four years earlier than their peers had 150 years ago.
Around half of girls now have their first menstruation when they are 12 or 13 years old.
Study authors also argue that there is biological evidence that now adolescence lasts longer. For instance, the brain doesn’t stop its development at the age of 19. It continues to mature well into the mid-twenties. Also, young people’s wisdom teeth now make a debut after the age of 25.
But the strongest argument should be that younger generations tend to delay life milestones like starting a family and becoming parents.
In the U.K., the average age of men deciding to get married was 32.5 in 2013. In 1973, that age was 24.5. Women’s average age to enter their first marriage now sits at 30.6.
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