The lure of the internet – which might keep kids glued to screens instead of out driving and dating – probably has had some recent impact, Twenge said.
Compared to teens from the 70s, 80s and 90s, today’s teens “are taking longer to engage in both the pleasures and the responsibilities of adulthood,” said Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the lead author on the study published Tuesday in the journal “The whole developmental pathway has slowed down,” she said, with today’s 18-year-olds living more like 15-year-olds once did.
The study relies on seven nationally representative surveys repeated with 8 million teens, ages 13-19, over several decades.
While people in their early 20s now often act more like teens, young teens often act more like children, Twenge said.
Eighth and ninth graders are less likely to have sex, drink, date, go out without parents or work for pay.