Earlier onset of puberty and better “understanding of continued growth” into adulthood has caused scientists to up the age from 19, according to a report in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal. “Delayed timing of role transitions, including completion of education, marriage, and parenthood, continue to shift popular perceptions of when adulthood begins,” the authors wrote. Scientists argued defining adolescence as between 10 and 24 “corresponds more closely to adolescent growth and popular understandings of this life phase." They wrote: “Earlier puberty has accelerated the onset of adolescence in nearly all populations, while understanding of continued growth has lifted its endpoint age well into the 20s." Lead author Professor Susan Sawyer, director of the centre for adolescent health at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, said expanding the definition was critical for developing the right “laws, social policies and service systems”. She added: “Although many adult legal privileges start at age 18 years, the adoption of adult roles and responsibilities generally occurs later." Adolescence is considered to begin at the onset of puberty, when hormones kick-start the transition from childhood to adulthood. Previously this used to happen around the age of 14, but improved nutrition and access to healthcare has seen the age drop to 10 in much of the developed world. “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 authors wrote. “An expanded and more inclusive definition of adolescence is essential for developmentally appropriate framing of laws, social policies, and service systems.” Figures revealed in November a record number of young adults were still living with their parents in the UK. More than a quarter of people aged 20 to 34 are still living at home, data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows. The figures have risen from just over a fifth (21 per cent) in 1996 to 26 per cent in 2017, rising from 2.7 million to 3.4 million in the past two decades. The original article was published in the Independent.
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