Teenagers these days. They’re growing up so slowly. They’re less likely to drink alcohol or smoke than teenagers in previous generations. Apparently, they’re also less likely to be having sex.
Everyone should be pretty happy with that, right? Well…
There’s been a lot of discussion about this trend recently, with a wide-ranging study in the US coming up with some startling findings.
Teenagers are doing almost everything associated with adulthood – drinking alcohol, having sex, going out without their parents, driving a car, getting a part-time job – at a later age. The teen pregnancy rate has hit an all-time low.
It’s an international trend. In the UK, there’s been a noticeable decrease in the number of teens drinking, smoking, taking drugs and getting pregnant. In Australia, statistics released earlier this year showed that 98 per cent of teenagers had never smoked. Only 18 per cent of teenagers drank alcohol in 2016, compared to 28 per cent in 2013.
So what’s going on? Are teenagers today more virtuous, because their parents have done such a good job of teaching them self-control? Have teens become more boring, because they’re focusing so hard on getting good marks at school? Or are they maybe just too busy checking their phones to actually do anything?
Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, has another theory. Teenagers today are growing up with a “slow life strategy”.
Less drinking, less sex, less going out. That’s a good thing, right?