Teens Today Are Taking Their Own Path To Independent Behaviors

While we may think that most teenagers are in a rush to become adults, a new report reveals that’s actually not the case with teens these days. In fact, the study published in the journal “Child Development” finds teens are actually putting off such adult-related behaviors as drinking and sex, as well as jobs, driving, dating and more.

The survey looked at forty years of data, comparing teens today to those in the 70s, 80s and 90s, and discovered that the current crop of teens are developing independent behaviors at a slower rate than those in the past, and that goes for all economic groups and all parts of the country.

For example, comparing teens surveyed between 2010 and 2016, to those in the early nineties:

  • 29% of ninth graders had sex, down from 38%
  • 29% of eighth graders drank alcohol, down from 56%.
  • 32% of eight graders had worked for pay, down from 63%

And for 12th graders between 2010 to 2016, compared to teens as far back as 1976:

  • 67% drank, down from 93%
  • 55% worked for pay, down from 76%
  • 73% had drivers’ licenses, down from 88%
  • 63% dated, down from 86%
  • 62% had had sex, down from 68% in the early 1990s (The earliest that data was collected)

As for why, that’s the big question. While some have suggested homework and extracurricular activities are to blame, the study says that’s just not the case. Researchers do believe the Internet could be keeping kids away from driving and dating, while they also say “helicopter parenting” could be playing a role in kids' delayed adulthood.