In seven large, nationally representative surveys of U.S. adolescents from 1976–2016 it was found that fewer adolescents in recent years engaged in adult activities such as having sex, dating, drinking alcohol, working for pay, going out without their parents, and driving, suggesting a slow life strategy. This study also found that the percentage of adolescents in the United States who have a driver’s license, who have tried alcohol, who date and who work for pay has plummeted since 1976, with the most precipitous decreases in the past decade. The postponement of “adult activities” could not be attributed to more homework or extracurricular activities, the study said, noting that teens today spend fewer hours on homework than they did in the 1990s and the same amount of time on extracurricular activities. Twenge suspects the postponement of adult behavior begins in early childhood, starting with the decrease in children walking to school alone or playing unsupervised.
Twenge, J. M., & Park, H. (2017), The decline in adult activities among U.S. adolescents, 1976–2016. Child Development. https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12930
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