Study suggests today’s teens are virgins who don’t party
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 cool.
At least, not by the metrics us old people use to define the world cool. And those are the metrics that matter.
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 ‘cool’ 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 even 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.
While turning down activities such as drinking and smoking has benefits for health, skipping the other bits of becoming an adult – learning to drive, getting a job, spending time away from your parents – can mean that teenagers feel entirely unprepared for life alone when they head to university or move out of their family home.
Plus, all the adult behaviours will happen eventually – all that’s changed is when teenagers are doing them.
Eventually the youths will grow up and learn to do all the things they’re supposed to, perhaps with a short detour into the fun of alcohol and having sex.
But while they figure it out, they’ll always have Google. And we’ll always have the joy of calling young people losers to distract us from the fact that they’ll soon take over and be our cool, hip bosses.