Young people these days are facing fewer responsibilities than young people decades before. According to a study published Wednesday, the majority of millennials don’t like to think about the pressure of being an adult. Additionally, it seems that the human body is starting to develop more slowly than before. This is why Australian scientists agreed to change the ages for being a teenager. They established that now the period of age is going to be from 10 to 24 years old.

Millennials are delaying their education, as they don’t want to marry or to have children, to start working and pay rent by themselves – at least until they’re older. As the experts wrote in the paper published in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal, adulthood is a phase they don’t want to reach yet.

Additionally, the biology of the human body is also changing. Since late decades, men and women’s bodies are developing more slowly. They are producing some fluids for longer, while others are being produced earlier.

Although some people like this new idea of redefining adolescence, others think that “further infantilizing young people,” and taking away responsibilities from millennials, might be pretty dangerous to them. This way, we would be allowing them to become a lazier and fearful society, not prepared for what’s coming next.

Defining adolescence again, Teenagers between 10 and 24 years old, Lancet Child & Adolescent Health
The adolescence now begins at the age of 10 and ends at 24. Image credit: iStock

Previously, humans started to be teenagers when they turned 14 years old and stopped being it when they became 19 years old.

According to the author of the study, changing the definition of teenagers will let authorities to develop more appropriate laws, social policies, and service systems.

“Rather than ages 10-19 years, a definition of 10-24 years corresponds more closely to adolescent growth and popular understanding of this life phase and would facilitate extended investments across a broader range of settings,” Dr. Susan Sawyer – author and professor of adolescent health at the University of Melbourne – and her colleagues, wrote in the paper.

Human body changing

Experts have said since quite a time that adolescence and puberty start when the hypothalamus – a specific part of the human brain – starts producing a hormone that activates the body’s pituitary and gonadal glands. That previously used to begin at the age of 14. But people in the more developed world are feeding better and having greater health, allowing the body to produce the hormone at the age of 10 years old.

On the same line, girls in these countries are becoming women earlier. Nowadays young females are menstruating even younger than those who lived 150 years ago. Half of them have their period for the first time between the age of 12 or 13 years old.

Likewise, the human body is not only starting to become “older” at younger ages. Its development is also lasting longer than before.

Defining adolescence again, Teenagers between 10 and 24 years old, Lancet Child & Adolescent Health
Millennials consider better to delay adulthood. Image credit: Elounda Peninsula

Our brain, for instance, continues maturing after the person turns 20 years – and it works faster and more efficiently.

Another example could be our wisdom teeth. A lot of people don’t have them before the age of 25.

“An expanded and more inclusive definition of adolescence is essential for developmentally appropriate framing of laws, social policies, and service systems. Age definitions are always arbitrary, our current definition of adolescence is overly restricted,” said the author of the study. “The ages of ten to 24 years are a better fit with the development of adolescents nowadays.”

Wanting to become adults

Young people don’t like to marry before turning 30 anymore, as the researchers suggested. In 1972, according to the Office of National Statistics, British people used to get married at the age of 24. The average man back then did it at the age of 25, while the average woman chose to do it at the age of 23.

In 2013, the average man started getting married for the first time at the age of 33. Women, meanwhile, preferred to do when being 31 years old.

Prof. Sawyer, who’s also the director of the center for adolescent health at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, said that although many “adult legal privileges” start at age 18 years, the “adoption of adult roles and responsibilities” generally occurs later.

Defining adolescence again, Teenagers between 10 and 24 years old, Lancet Child & Adolescent Health
Young people don’t want to get married before turning 30 years old. Image credit: Shutterstock.

According to Prof. Russell Viner, president-elect of the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health, both men and women are “leaving home” when they turn 25 years old – as the BBC reported.

“Statutory provision in England in terms of social care for care leavers and children with special educational needs now goes up to 24 years,” Prof. Viner said.

Dr. Jan Macvarish – University of Kent’s parenting sociologist – said that we should not risk “pathologizing their desire for independence.” Our society should maintain the “highest possible expectations” of the next generations.

To this, Prof. Viner said that this could be seen as “empowering young people by recognizing their differences.”

Source: Lancet Child & Adolescent Health