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One cultural shift that might help to explain this is the rise of technology.
While the authors were careful to note that they could not identify a strong link between teens’ more prudish behavior and smartphones, Twenge makes that case in her recent story in the Atlantic, which cites some of the same data.
Her conclusion is ominous: “It’s not an exaggeration to describe i Gen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades.
Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.” However, in the study itself, the authors note that the trend toward more risk-averse behavior began before internet use among teens took off.
By 2015, that had fallen to 41%, with the largest declines for 9th graders and smallest for 12 Previous research has shown that young adults are postponing becoming actual adults longer (hence the need for things like “Adulting School”).
The new research pinpoints when this trend begins, and concludes we are letting childhood run well into adolescence.
The declines appeared across race, geographic, and socioeconomic lines, and in rural, urban, and suburban areas.
Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.
They are in good company, according to a new study showing that teenagers are increasingly delaying activities that had long been seen as rites of passage into adulthood.
The study, published Tuesday in the journal Child Development, found that the percentage of adolescents in the U. who have a driver's license, who have tried alcohol, who date, and who work for pay has plummeted since 1976, with the most precipitous decreases in the past decade.
“In terms of adult activities, 18-year-olds now look like 15-year-olds once did.” The authors examined seven large, nationally representative surveys of US adolescents between 1976–2016, or 8.4 million kids ages 13–19, looking at “adult” activities, such as dating and drinking and working for pay.
It compared adolescents of the same age—say 9th graders—at different points in time, a so-called time-lag design to allow the researchers to see changes between many groups of kids over time rather than changes in the same group over time.