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Scientists Think Adolescence Now Lasts Until Age 24

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Adulting is hard, but fret not because the period that it will take for young people to mature was prolonged. Adolescence now lasts until 24.

A new study published in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health ascribed a new age frame for the period of adolescence or the phase of life stretching between childhood and adulthood. Scientists believe the age of 10 to 24 years now corresponds to adolescent growth or adulting.

For the longest time, the age of adolescence is perceived at the ages between 14 to 19 years. With the onset of early puberty, which now starts at age 10, the phase wherein young people can mature and assume adult roles and responsibilities was pushed back until the age of 24.

The study says that "earlier puberty has accelerated the onset of adolescence in nearly all populations" and, in parallel, "delayed the timing of role transitions, including completion of education, marriage, and parenthood."

More Time To Grow

The extended transition between childhood to adulthood is attributed to many factors including societal and biological changes. Digital media and advances in technology are also contributing factors.

The study asserts that while the legal age, according to most laws, start at 18 years, in terms of biological changes, the brain continues to mature even after the age of 20. Some people even grow their wisdom teeth until age 25.

Young people are also known to enter a period in life described as semi-dependency before fully taking on adult roles such as marriage, parenting, and economic independence.

"Although many adult legal privileges start at age 18 years, the adoption of adult roles and responsibilities generally occurs later," says Prof. Susan Sawyer, director of the center for adolescent health at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne and lead author of the study.

The average marriage age in the United States has changed since 1950, and most wait longer to get married.

A survey by the US Census Bureau shows that since 1970, the median age for women to get married increased by more than four years, and for men, the increase was three years. Based on the 2017 census, men get married for the first time at age 29 and women at age 27.

"Arguably, the transition period from childhood to adulthood now occupies a greater portion of the life course than ever before at a time when unprecedented social forces, including marketing and digital media, are affecting health and wellbeing across these years," the study said.

Ensure Benefits For The Youth

The study gave a more expanded and inclusive definition of the adolescence life phase to carry out needed social reforms including the extending of youth support services until the age of 25.

The redefinition can help ensure the future health of people aged 10 to 24 years old estimated at 1.8 billion, comprising a quarter of the world's population, according to the UN Population Fund.

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