Gone are the days of America's youth getting hammered, smoking doobies, and obliterating mailboxes with garbage cans. Turns out that—just like the lame-ass millennials who came before them—teens are now total squares.
A new study from psychologist Jean Twenge of San Diego State University (SDSU) found that teenagers are waiting longer than ever to date, have sex, drink booze, or drive, the Washington Post reports. Twenge and her fellow SDSU psychologist Heejung Park published the study in Child Development Tuesday, unveiling data they've collected from more than 8 million teens from 1976 to 2016. What they've found is basically David Wooderson's nightmare.
Among high school seniors surveyed from 2010 to 2016, 67 percent drank, compared to 93 percent of those surveyed in the late 70s; 63 percent had been on a date, down from 86 percent; and 73 percent had a driver's license, down from 88 percent. Just 62 percent of seniors surveyed in the 2010s had had sex compared to 68 percent of those surveyed in the early 90s, when surveys first collected data on the topic, USA Today reports. The downward trend had seen its sharpest decline in the past ten years, according to the Post.
For the study, Twenge and Park culled data on kids aged 13 to 19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, among other sources, finding that teens of all ages have gotten increasingly more lame regardless of race, gender, location, and socioeconomic status. Essentially, the average 18-year-old in 2017 lives like a 15-year-old of the 1970s, Twenge told the San Diego Tribune. The findings echo earlier studies that show teens just don't party like they used to—with fewer adolescents drinking, getting high, and ripping cigs than ever before.
Twenge says the results show that Generation Z is slow on the draw when it comes to growing up and not as keen on messing around with adult activities. In decades past, Americans had a lot of kids and expected to die sooner—forcing teens to pick up on adult habits at a young age, she told the San Diego Tribune. Nowadays, the average family has fewer kids, whom they can shower with resources and expect will live longer—meaning teens who are well cared for don't have to grow up quite so fast.
"Even in families whose parents didn't have a college education... families are smaller, and the idea that children need to be carefully nurtured has really sunk in," Twenge told the Post.
Follow Drew Schwartz on Twitter.
Update 9/25: T_he photograph for this post has been changed._