Our teenage years have always been a time of great awkwardness, super hormones, and bad decision-making. But lately these years have moved even further down the path of supreme weirdness.
Puberty is now kicking in at an increasingly early age, yet because jobs are harder to come by, today’s adolescents are taking on adult roles far later.
The same hormone overload that turns meek 10-year olds into restless, exuberant, emotionally intense teenagers, desperate to attain every goal, fulfill every desire and experience every sensation, is the same body-morphing system that later transitions them back into relatively placid adults. It’s just that these “limbo years” are getting longer.
Researchers have found that teens do not underestimate the risks that they take; rather they over estimate the reward. A study at Temple University with fMRI brain-imaging scans revealed that teens simply find rewards more rewarding than adults do.
For this and many other reasons, 2014 is ushering in a vastly different teenager than those in 1994. Both internal and external influences are causing today’s youth to think and act very differently, leaving past experts on teen psychology in a quandary.
So will the teens of 2034 be even more difficult to define? Are they trending towards becoming a different grade of human?
This report maps some of the key evolutionary changes we’re seeing with teens living in America.
NOTE: Part one in this series can be found here.