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Are You Really An Adult When You Turn Eighteen?

Are You Really An Adult When You Turn Eighteen?

Grow Talk by Sofy Robertson

Photo by Brett Clouser on Unsplash

Eighteen is considered the age where you become an adult in the UK; you can vote, buy alcohol, take out a mortgage and are treated as an adult by the police and court system. Scientists have argued, however, that at eighteen, your brain still has a lot of growing up to do.

Many young people joke about adulting, particularly those leaving home for the first time who are undertaking ‘adult’ tasks like paying bills and buying domestic appliances for the first time. At some point though, undertaking these adult tasks ceases to feel new, clunky and confusing and instead becomes the norm.

Scientists argue that people don’t become fully adult until they are in their 30s, although they say that the age at which you become an adult is different for everyone. Research suggests that at eighteen, people are still going through changes in the brain which can affect behaviour and make them more likely to develop mental health disorders.

Professor Peter Jones, from Cambridge University, said:

“What we’re really saying is that to have a definition of when you move from childhood to adulthood looks increasingly absurd.

“It’s a much more nuanced transition that takes place over three decades.”

“I guess systems like the education system, the health system and the legal system make it convenient for themselves by having definitions.” (BBC)

Professor Jones, along with a number of other experts, are taking part in a neuroscience meeting hosted by the Academy of Medical Sciences in Oxford. He continued:

“I think the system is adapting to what’s hiding in plain sight, that people don’t like (the idea of) a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.

“There isn’t a childhood and then an adulthood. People are on a pathway, they’re on a trajectory.”

So if you’ve just turned eighteen or are somewhere in your twenties and feel that being considered an adult seems laughable, you might be on to something. One thing’s for sure, there will be no point in my life where I cease to find funny cat videos hilarious (and addictively watchable…).

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