You don’t need a Ph.D. in psychology to see that adolescents are struggling. The people who see this most clearly are the parents and teachers of our foundering teens. Adolescence has needed a revision for some time, but it took the pandemic to highlight this more clearly. It is now time for adolescence to enter a new age.
A review by Vivian Hamilton in 2016 documented how the accepted age of adulthood fluctuated back and forth throughout history as a function of the needs of each culture. For example, the age of maturity in America was once 21. However, it was gradually lowered to 18 in the mid-20th century to accommodate the need for soldiers during WWII.
Even more surprising is that 2,000 years ago, early Roman law set the age of full maturity at 25, establishing the minimum age for young males to engage in formal acts and contracts independently. Thus, our Roman ancestors seemed to understand something about adolescence that we could benefit from relearning: kids need more time to develop before we saddle them with adulthood’s full expectations and responsibilities.