Adolescence now lasts from 10 to 24, scientists say

Henrietta Strickland
January 19, 2018

We used to consider adolescence ending at age 19, but now scientists in the United Kingdom think we should consider the period of development as lasting from ages 10 to 24.

They argue that with young people staying in education longer and delaying other major milestones, such as marriage and parenthood, the popular perception of when adulthood begins has shifted.

Furthermore, puberty - which is initiated by the release of hormonal signals from the brain - is now happening earlier in many more affluent countries as a result of improved health and nutrition.

It's not the first time lead author professor Susan Sawyer, director of the Centre for Adolescent Health at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne has discussed redefining adolescence.

This is highlighted perhaps most effectively by the fact that the average age for men and women to get married is now around eight years later than it was in 1973 (32.5 years old for a man and 30.6 for a woman), according to the Office for National Statistics.

Since children are not marrying as young and remaining in the education system longer, they are not gaining full levels of independence as quickly and are instead remaining in a state of "semi dependency".

This social change, she said, needs to inform policy, so that policy and governmental changes can be made such as extension of youth support services.

"Age definitions are always arbitrary", she writes, but "our current definition of adolescence is overly restricted".

"The ages of 10-24 years are a better fit with the development of adolescents nowadays".

Adolescence now lasts until the age of 24, scientists have claimed.

However, critics say that extending the age risks "further infantilizing young people".

Professor Russell Viner, president-elect of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, agreed that adolescence extended to 24 and said some United Kingdom services already took this into account. As society continues to develop, young people marry and have children later.

"Society should maintain the highest possible expectations of the next generation". Or are you over 24 and still feel like an adolescent?

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