The researchers analyzed survey responses from 8.3 million adolescents, ages 13 to 19, from across the country over the last 40 years (1976 to 2016).They found that today’s youths, compared to those in previous decades, are less likely to engage in adult activities, including drinking alcohol, dating, having sex, going out without their parents, driving a car and working a job.Twenge and her co-author cite the evolutionary “life-history theory,” which states that human development will be slower when families are smaller, people live longer, children are safe and healthy and education takes longer to complete.“That’s a pretty good description of our current culture,” says Twenge.But there are also plenty of benefits, especially for teens’ health.“When kids don’t grow up before they’re ready, they’re protected from things like alcohol and sex,” says Twenge. But before anyone can get married they have to go through the process of getting to know a person and pursuing love for them (at least if you practice the Western tradition of pursuing marriage).
That was true across all demographic groups in the study. In this article I am going to call it “dating” and define it as “the process of finding a spouse.” I do not claim to be an expert: I realize that many varying opinions about dating float around Christian circles jumping over each other, getting mixed together, and consuming some people. You wish it could happen soon but it completely freaks you out. Some people call this dating, other people call it courting — there are likely countless terms you could use for the process.“Others wrote that they’re less likely to have jobs, so they must be lazy or immature.” “If you look at the big picture, it’s not that they’re doing more good things or more bad things overall,” says Twenge.“It’s just that they’re less likely to do all kinds of things that adults do, and there is definitely a trade-off there.” One downside to slower development is that teens may be unprepared for living independently when they go off to college, get their first job or set out on their own, Twenge says.