This article originally appeared on i-D
In America, turning 18 years old is largely seen as the official start of “adulting”. We’re able to sign up for student loans, vote, and apply for credit cards. But, according to a new psychology study, we’re not adults. The pimples and growing pains may be gone, but we’re mentally teenagers until 24 years old.
To be honest, these findings confirm what a lot of us — especially our parents — knew already. The study, entitled “Age of Adolescence”, was released by the medical journal Lancet Child and Adolescent Health. In it, psychologists say a mixture of changing societal expectations and economic conditions have prolonged adolescence. Fewer and fewer twenty-somethings are participating in the traditional markers of “adulthood”. Like buying a house, marrying, getting a full-time job, and having kids. The authors also blame the onslaught of media we’re exposed to. They argue “unprecedented social forces, including marketing and digital media, are affecting health and wellbeing across these years.”
The media loves to portray Millenials as a stunted generation and this study will likely only fuel the fire. NPR hosted a 20-minute segment examining the modern phenomenon of “man-childs”; the New York Times has portrayed Millenials as capitalist-hating radicals; and Pew Research has found more adults are living at home with their parents.
“Age of Adolescence” argues that this new, expanded idea of twenty-somethings is “essential for developmentally appropriate framing of laws, social policies, and service systems.” And we agree. Because young adults deserve greater empathy, help, and understanding when it comes to entering this scary, complex world.