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In the first scenario, “you’d have a lot of kids and be in survival mode, start having kids young, expect your kids will have kids young, and expect that there will be more diseases and fewer resources,” said Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University who is the author of “i Gen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.” A century ago, when life expectancy was lower and college education less prevalent, “the goal back then was survival, not violin lessons by 5,” Twenge said.
“They’re absorbing the same kind of anxiety about the future that their parents have for them,” she said. “On the one hand, I know she’s safe, she’s not out getting pregnant or smoking pot or drinking or doing all kinds of risky stuff that I can imagine would be age appropriate,” she said.(Legislation has also delayed another adult activity: In the 1970s, the legal drinking age was as young as 18 in some states; it is now 21 almost universally.) To Daniel Siegel, an adolescent psychiatrist and author of “Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain,” it makes sense that adolescents would “remodel” their brains to adapt to a society that has changed since the 19th century.“In a culture that says, ‘Okay, you’re going to go to high school, go to college, go to graduate school and then get an internship, and you’re not going to really be responsible till your late 20s,’ well then the brain will respond accordingly,” he said.Chiara Power, 15, of San Juan Island in Washington state has no interest in dating, driving, working for pay or drinking alcohol — and the rising costs of college keep her up at night. But Haskew wonders whether her daughter is missing out on life lessons those behaviors can teach. Do you have to be risk-taking as a teenager in order to succeed as an adult?
“I’m already panicking and having nightmares about the student loans that I’ll never escape, and I’m worried that I’m going to end up homeless,” she said. “They’re just like, ‘Dude, that’s not happening for the next three years, so chill.’ I can’t chill. ” Still, she agreed with her daughter that the world seems more treacherous now than when she was a teen.Whether the changes are positive or negative depends on the reasons for delaying adult activities, Siegel said. Why don’t I stay with my friends and away from anything that has heavy consequences, like pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases?