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"Is that stuff necessary for human development, do you have to be risk-taking as a teenager in order to succeed as an adult?"Still, she agreed with her daughter that the world seems more treacherous now than when she was a teen."Climate change is super real and it's obviously happening as we speak," she said.
"They come in without the kind of reckless disregard of consequence that a more confident generation of kids had, who said, 'I'll drop out of school and join the peace movement, what the hell.'" With fewer career paths available to those without a college degree, she said, young people can no longer afford that kind of nonchalance."They're absorbing the same kind of anxiety about the future that their parents have for them."Chiara Power, 15, of San Juan Island, Washington, has no interest in dating, driving, working for pay or drinking alcohol - and the rising costs of college keep her up at night."I'm already panicking and having nightmares about the student loans that I'll never escape, and I'm worried that I'm going to end up homeless," she said. "They're just like, 'Dude, that's not happening for the next three years, so chill. But Haskew wonders whether her daughter is missing out on life lessons those behaviors can teach.According to an evolutionary psychology theory that a person's "life strategy" slows down or speeds up depending on his or her surroundings, exposure to a "harsh and unpredictable" environment leads to faster development, while a more resource-rich and secure environment has the opposite effect, the study said.In the first scenario, "You'd have a lot of kids and be in survival mode, start having kids young, expect your kids will have kids young, and expect that there will be more diseases and fewer resources," said Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University who is the author of "i Gen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy - and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood."A century ago, when life expectancy was lower and college education less prevalent, "the goal back then was survival, not violin lessons by 5," Twenge said.That seems sort of unrealistic."Although the study did not look at people younger than 13, Twenge said she suspects the postponement of adult behavior begins in early childhood, starting with the decrease in children walking to school alone or playing unsupervised.In recent decades parents have become more restrictive about independent activities, and laws in some states have codified this, banning children from going out in public or staying home without adult accompaniment.(Legislation has also delayed another adult activity: In the 1970s the legal drinking age was as young as 18 in some states; it is now 21 almost universally.)To Daniel Siegel, an adolescent psychiatrist and author of "Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain," it makes sense that adolescents would "remodel" their brains to adapt to a society that has changed since the 19th century."In a culture that says, 'Okay, you're going to go to high school, go to college, go to graduate school, and then get an internship, and you're not going to really be responsible till your late 20s,' well then the brain will respond accordingly," he said.