More teens are delaying dating, driving, working and even drinking, a new study reveals, and that’s all likely part of evolution.
The findings are consistent with “life history theory,” the study says, which means higher median income, life expectancy, college enrollment and age at first birth come into play.
The study compares the periods between 1976 and 1979, and 2010 and 2015.
▪ In the late 70s, 86 percent of high school seniors had gone on a date. From 2010 to 2015, 63 percent had.
▪ The percentage who had earned money went from 76 percent to 55 percent.
▪ The percentage who tried alcohol went from 93 percent to 67 percent.
“People say, ‘Oh, it’s because teenagers are more responsible, or more lazy, or more boring,’ but they’re missing the larger trend,” said Jean Twenge, lead author of the study.
The study suggests that exposure to a “harsh and unpredictable” environment leads to faster development – meaning children are apt to try adult activities sooner – while an environment in which teens had more resources and felt more secure (perhaps more typical of this era) has the opposite effect, the study said.
It also noted that homework and extracurricular activities was not a factor in when teens tried new behaviors; nor was internet usage.
“It seems sort of ridiculous to be seriously dating someone in high school,” said Quattro Musser, 17, of Portland, Oregon, and reported in the Washington Post. “I mean, what’s the plan there? Continuing to date through college and then eventually get married? That seems sort of unrealistic.”