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Trashing Teens (2007) (psychologytoday.com)
75 points by apsec112 23 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 118 comments



I think one major reason that modern adolescents can be so moody, impulsive, and irresponsible is widespread chronic sleep deprivation.

Adolescents naturally have very late-shifted chronotypes. I.e. compared to older adults they tend to wake late in the day and stay up late at night. Yet American high schools have ridiculously early start times. For example it's not unusual for schools to start at dawn. Which means students taking the bus may have to leave before dawn.

We have decades of research demonstrating the impact of sleep deprivation on cognitive functioning, decision making judgement and emotional stability. It's little wonder that a segment of society that we're forcing into chronic sleep deprivation acts "immature".

We just don't recognize the problem because it's too easy for us old folks to write off the symptoms as the "foibles of youth". Yet it's us old folks pushing these torturous schedules onto teens, despite mountains of scientific evidence saying otherwise.


I pretty much guarantee you that neither rural farm teens nor city factory working teens in past centuries were allowed to sleep till 10. They had to wake up when everyone woke up to work.


And I guarantee you that these teens in past centuries didn't like it either.

There's a reason our living conditions are significantly better today, and we didn't reach that state by repeating the same dumb mistakes every time.


So when/where did we branch out from the evolutionary-preferred routine? When were the teenagers waking up late during the day?


In hunter-gatherer societies. Teens were full adults who could marry. They could stay up late, having sex all they wanted. There was no need to get up early since there were no cows to milk or any other chores like that.

Life was governed only by the sun, not artificial clocks.


If i recall right in hunter-gatherer societies people were naturally divided into different sleeping schedules - some wake up at dawn, other at noon etc.

The whole community was always at least partially awake.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/personal-health-mast...


Just a side note on these kind of things, how do we actually know?

It seems with evolution, there are always these "common sense" answers. Oh, no cows to milk! no need to get up early, hence, teens have a different clock? It just seems like handwavy nonsense that makes "common sense" to us and it's accepted.

School just sucks. It sucked when I was well rested and it sucked when I wasn't. Sleep deprivation may impact peformance. but I know one thing - the later I could wake up, the later I stayed up. Curious to see how these changes in California actually impact students.


We know because there are still hunter gatherer societies around today. We have scientists who have spent long periods of time living with them and learning their customs and way of life.


That is interesting - but can we really say with certainty this is how it always was?

Especially since there is bias added (they know of the existence of the scientist).


We can’t say anything with certainty in science. It’s all inductive reasoning. Maybe the errors bars are bigger in some fields more than others, but that’s all we can do. I doubt archaeological evidence will ever determine the sleep schedules of teenagers from the pre-agricultural days.


Reality check: there is no reason to assume that marriage and adulthood meaning in hunter-gatherer society is same as now. We don't know have detailed sociological studies of hunter-gatherers.

There is nothing about marriage or being sexual or able to provide offspring that implies the older and stronger individuals in your tribe will let you have full rights or do what you want. For all we know, you are still expected to do what they tell to you, except that you are pregnant as a bonus.


> We don't know have detailed sociological studies of hunter-gatherers.

But we do. We don't know today's hunter-gatherers are identical to those of 10,000 years ago or more, but we've got them and there have been many studies of them.


I’d imagine the author of the article would also describe the agrarian lifestyle as highly unnatural. The “preindustrial” societies described therein sound a lot like hunter-gatherer societies to me.

These are the societies which set rites of passage into adulthood that coincide with puberty. Teens are then considered full fledged adults who can marry and are expected to work and participate in community decision-making.

In a hunter-gatherer society there’s not much need to wake up early. Everyone’s circadian rhythms tend to be set by the sun, with no artificial light apart from firelight. Since teens can marry, there’s nothing stopping them from staying up later to have sex. But other than that, they’ll wake up when the sun naturally wakes them up.


So? They were unhappy and died young, what’s your point?


And in the evening they were exhausted by physical labour. If they still didn't feel like sleeping, they could read the a candle lit bible.


Candles themselves were luxuries along with proper torches - they often had shorter term plants to burn with light when they had to investigate what the hell was going on at night in the dark.

There is a reason electric lighting is associated with educational achievement in the third world.


Being exhausted by labor probably helps falling asleep earlier.


That was my point.


> We just don't recognize the problem because it's too easy for us old folks to write off the symptoms as the "foibles of youth".

We also don't recognize it because our salary literally depends on not recognizing it - when both parents work, school times have to match the typical workday, with an extra offset for commute.


Adult partners both working has really screwed things up in a lot of ways.

But, AIUI you have the cause and effect the wrong way here - when many more people entered full-time work then wages have adjusted downwards. Society "chose" this situation; mind you I'm pretty sure we didn't accommodate teen brain in the past when that would have been possible (in middle class families, where a caregiver was home).


Teens are more than old enough to get themselves up and at school without parents being there.


Plus, they lived their entire live in a world with:

- sugar everywhere

- deficit in many important nutriments

- attention depleting tech and env

- boomer culture messages in a post 2000 economy and social climate

- low but continuous stressing life style

- micro doses of thousands of pollutants in food, air and water

I have seen first hand how working those improved my quality of life, and I have not even lived my all life on those conditions.

I find it amazing how resilient they are, considering.


Can you explains why even Boomers were moody teens before all this happened?


Moody is too vague. I'm more interested in measurable symptoms. E.G: teens have menstruations sooner on average, and boys have a fully develop hormonal system later on average than boomers. They have more adhd, are more obeses, have more cases of diabetes, have less confidence in the future or trust in the institutions.

And yes, that all translates to attitude.


Paul Graham actually wrote about this in 2003: http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html

Adults can't avoid seeing that teenage kids are tormented. So why don't they do something about it? Because they blame it on puberty. The reason kids are so unhappy, adults tell themselves, is that monstrous new chemicals, hormones, are now coursing through their bloodstream and messing up everything. There's nothing wrong with the system; it's just inevitable that kids will be miserable at that age.

I could not agree more. Adolescent education is completely and utterly broken in most developed societies and is causing pain and misery on a vast scale, but fixing it is a complete non-priority for those who could.

Greta, when you're done with climate change, can you fix schools please?


Are you/pg defying the mood-altering effects of high hormone levels (or perhaps it's a high rate of change of hormones?)?

Observing my own children there has been a clear point where social/interpersonal interactions have become more fraught; and these "moody" periods are relatively arbitrary, not depending on tiredness AFAICT.

Now, that's not too say tiredness is not also a factor in mood, but denying the hormonal effect seems at odds with my personal observations, at least.


It is denying the inevitability of it. I mean considering women to be inevitably miserable and moody because of their menstrual cycle would be rightfully called ignorant and misogynistic. The fact some women may suffer crippling menstrual issues because hormones are a very real thing.

Why would the invalid hormoned as destiny expectations be assumed valid for youth as well? View as a possible obstacle to overcome rather than destiny.


I’d say the total frustration is an interaction between changes in your own state and the way others react to those changes.


My grand mother was born in 1894 and was tenth of eleven children. She spent here early years on a farm helping with her younger brother. She attended school until the 4th grade. At 11-years-old, she was working full time in a cotton mill. At 14 she had her first child.

My grandmother and grandfather maintained a farm while both worked in the mill. Mornings started at 4:30am six days a week.

Grandma had a picture with all of the young girls at the mill, and would always point out a couple of the unmarried girls who were 16 in the picture and say that they were old maids.

It is possible, maybe likely, that we have extended childhood too far, and I am sure that given the right upbringing, my 11-year-old daughter could function just as well as my grandmother, but I have not prepared my daughter for that type of life. My daughter has never been required to start the day with chores; she has never been responsible for others. If we are going to change how we treat teens, we need to start a lot younger and change how we raise children.


I plan to do this: Give my kids lots of responsibility from a very very early age, starting with collecting small sticks to start the fire every morning (we heat with a wood stove). By teenage years they should be able to make things to sell or gift to others.

My wife currently nannies children and her "field notes" are just incredible. Children want to have responsibility. They want to have jobs. Not that I'm suggesting they go into factory work, but there's no reason a 12 year old can't learn to start perfecting something like a croissant.

Instead if young kids clamor for something to do, some parents do stuff like help them setup a lemonade stand. This is hardly DOING something, its mostly sitting there waiting for cars(???) to stop so they can sell sugar water. It is already below their skill level and a waste when they could be learning something more meaningful.

We have definitely extended childhood too far. We basically park child bodies into little feedlots called schools, which seems generally to only be because of a total lack of imagination on the part of adults. Children should be DOING things. https://twitter.com/simonsarris/status/1192477007986221057


> Children want to have responsibility.

This article made the rounds last year:

Families In A Maya Village In Mexico May Have The Secret To Getting Kids To Do Chores - NPR

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2018/06/09/6169288...

Discussion here on HN, with 382 points and 202 comments: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17280710

(Disclaimer: Having read neither, I cannot vouch for their contents.)


Devil's advocate mode:

Extending childhood is related to spending a lot of time preparing children to do things other than what they grow up with. This is necessary for a resilient society that is something more than a collection of family farms and for social mobility.

This extended "training time" is less necessary if A) you live in a preindustrialized society where you aren't expected to spend a significant amount of your life working for an employer, and B) all you are going to do is what your parents are doing on the same property they live on.


This was my initial thought as well. While farmwork and other aspects of rural living is wildly complex, when you have everything pre-setup for you it is easy to learn everything you need to know from an early age. OTOH, when your modern parents leave you with no setup direction for you to follow, and you have to invent your own direction, it takes much more time to build toward that.

Imagine a kid living in the suburbs that wants to do this sort of independent farmwork and self sustaining life from scratch without family support, vs a the child of a farmer.


Really interesting article! This quote was particularly insightful and thought-provoking:

"Teens in America are in touch with their peers on average 65 hours a week, compared to about four hours a week in preindustrial cultures. In this country, teens learn virtually everything they know from other teens, who are in turn highly influenced by certain aggressive industries. This makes no sense. Teens should be learning from the people they are about to become."


Teens should be learning from the people they are about to become.

That's only true if the objective of learning is to maintain the status quo. Given the older generations prepensity for ignoring serious problems (climate, housing, etc) and their rampant materialism, I'm not sure teens should be learning from them.

Also, figuring things out from first principles without all the received wisdom of experience has value. You might make a bunch of mistakes and get things very wrong sometimes, but that's OK. You can find things people missed the first time around. That can be useful.


>and their rampant materialism

Is this really that bad? How well do you think teens understand the issue from both sides? It's easy to be against materialism when you yourself don't have to worry about bills and food. It's a lot harder when you have to make choices in what you can and can't get because of your lack of resources.

Perhaps if teens understood money better there wouldn't be such a huge problem with student loans. But there is, which indicates that they're not very good at managing money.

Edit: this applies to teenagers of today. Perhaps if they are handed more responsibility as they grew up they would be better at managing money?


I cannot reconcile your words with my understanding of the world.

“Materialism” (as a social issue rather than a philosophical worldview) is bad because it focuses on endless consumption of unnecessary things. Not food and shelter, but designer sunglasses and pre-ripped jeans.

As for the student debt problem in the US and the UK, that’s because education now costs as much as the deposit on a very nice house — never mind a starter home! — whereas in the UK a generation ago it was free and two generations ago the government paid you to attend. This education has been sold as “getting you a good job” but then it turned out to be necessary for even for jobs that, a generation ago, didn't need a degree. So we have young people starting the same jobs three years later and in massive debt despite having followed the advice of their elders which everyone concerned was expecting to give them a career boost.

I got lucky. I picked software engineering because it seemed fun, but it turned out to be the quickest route to one of the highest income professions. If I’d been on a “normal” salary while burdened with the £36k of tuition fees my niece can expect to pay, there’s a very real chance I would reach retirement age without clearing that loan, and no amount of playing games with myself about spending £0.50 a day on food or looking for the lowest rent room and putting up with rats eating my bedsheets (real examples from university life) would fix that.


> Perhaps if teens understood money better there wouldn't be such a huge problem with student loans. But there is, which indicates that they're not very good at managing money.

Students are going to take out student loans for as long as every adult they talk to before then extolls to them the limitless value of a college education.


Teenagers of today didn't discover climate change, or materialism, themselves; they only know about it because adults of today talk about it. I think the generational generalization you just made is pretty invalid; the very fact that those issues are considered issues is a proof of that.


A relatively small number of adults discovered and shouted about problem like climate change. The majority ignored them, and continue to ignore them. Consequently we are where we are now.


> When young people exit the education system and are dumped into the real world, which is not the world of Britney Spears, they

That’s the next sentence, which makes the preceding sentiment seem even worse. Is the teen world the “world of Britney Spears”? That’s a ridiculous thing to think. Are teens talking to each other often talking about pop celebrities? No, saying so would be a cringe inducing generalisation.


>Are teens talking to each other often talking about pop celebrities? No, saying so would be a cringe inducing generalisation. //

Often they seem to be talking about celebrities, media is really celebrity focused.

Every teen/pre-teen can do Fortnite dances because pop culture is such a massive force in youth culture.


And aside from the individual target of ephemera that differs from adults how, again? Seriously even if they are grandma talking about Bernice's blue rinse that seems fundamentally human.


It doesn't differ from many adults (though common cultural focus seems even more important for teens to me), I'm just challenging the idea that teens _do_not_ focus on pop culture.


What do you think rebellious teens are rebelling against?

The people they are about to become.

"Learning from something" includes "Learning from mistakes", and seeing those mistakes helps learning.


A lot of interesting bits. This bit made me think as well:

> The factory system doesn't work in the modern world, because two years after graduation, whatever you learned is out of date. We need education spread over a lifetime, not jammed into the early years—except for such basics as reading, writing, and perhaps citizenship. Past puberty, education needs to be combined in interesting and creative ways with work. The factory school system no longer makes sense.


two years after graduation, whatever you learned is out of date

This also does not make sense to me. I can't think about anything I learned in college (mechanical engineering) in mid 90s that is obsolete today. For example, we used to do engineering drawings by hand. It's an amazing skill - kind of like learning how to program in assembly. It's an enlightening experience - once you mastered it, learning tools like SolidWorks (or Python for programming) is a breeze. Similarly, nothing you learned in college as a CS major 30 years ago would be obsolete today. Most algorithms and data structures already existed and haven't changed much. Programming in C is still (arguably) the best way to learn how program a computer if you want to understand what's going on under the hood. If you learn about OSes, databases, networking, compilers, computer architecture etc by studying specific examples from 1989 you would learn 90% of what you need to succeed as a software engineer today.


So you learned tools, not facts. AIUI, the major criticism of the US "factory schooling" (I'm from the EU btw, so it's only hearsay) is that you're considered "done" once you leave school, and never have to acquire new facts again.

Both your education and mine (electrical engineering) focused on the means of acquiring and communicating knowledge (reading comprehension, critical thinking, technical writing), not on rote memorization. That basis sets you up for a lifetime of adaptability through discovery and learning. If you're never learned how to assimilate new knowledge, you're going to have a hard time staying relevant in a rapidly-changing society.


So leaning about Ohms law hasn't changed in the last century has it


The work switching is nontrivial in costs and arrangement.

There is some inherent in a "research what you need for your occupation" but it is specialized and divergent over time. So while plumbers may learn to work with sonar robodrones once they come out and become the norm or doctors with nanoprobes if things advance the foundation often atrophies to not in fact being smarter than a 5th Grader.

I am not sure how well it can be combined with work given that it is extrinsic to its many varied purposes that are already an incentives and strategic mess.

The "best" way to enforce learning when it is fundamentally misalligned would involve a bueracratic gatekeeping hell sure to spark rebellion both overt and covert. Good luck in China let alone a liberal democracy.

A less foregone dystopian way would be to subsidize general learning but even that would have opportunity and systemic costs that would limit uptake without obvious payback.


four hours a week in preindustrial cultures

This makes no sense to me. Are they saying 15th century kids only interacted with other kids 4 hours a week?


Why is that weird? If you lived on a farm back then the only other kids your kids will meet are their siblings and maybe some close neighbors (that will be like family). Nowadays they basically have a mandatory 30 hours of meeting other kids that are not as close as family.


But they were definitely in touch with them more then 4 hours a week.


If peers are kids your own age, then that makes sense. Your siblings aren't the same age, they're not your peers - you don't see them as equals and they don't influence you on the same terms. I'm guessing though, it's not very clear.


How? When there's light you work, when it's dark you sleep. Only sunday's free.


In preindustrial cultures, you'd get a lot more free than just the sundays, since most religious celebration were holidays.


Citation needed, I guess: only 4 hours a week of peer-peer contact in preindustrial cultures?


One of the factors may be the desire for indoctrination, from many sides. As long as you're legally a child, your time and attention is effectively someone elses's property. The school system can have you schooled for n*10 hours a week on whatever it considers objective truth. There is lots of political tampering with this everywhere. Parents can (legally) control what media you consume, what information you get and who you can interact with. It's partly about the power to make young people what someone else wants them to be. (Not that it usually works as expected.)

I'm not saying adolescents should not be educated (in fact, I think there is lots of unrealized opportunity for society in public education), just that this is a tasty quasi-political power that's hard to give up and tempting to expand.


True too much focus on what you should learn with no interest in teaching how to learn.

I think it's very telling the intention behind the institution when you see this.


I vividly remember being frustrated as a teenager that I essentially lived my life as a vassal until age 18 or so.

The school system felt utterly farcical. Like being trapped in a cage with a bunch of idiots.

In adult life you can quit a job, leave a town, change yourself. As a teenager your most expressive period is robbed from you.


I also agree that people running their mouths of on how bad teens are without considering that they are essentially chattel and being told every day of their life they are not to make any decision that matters to their physical and mental well-being -- straight up until they're 18 and then they better get every decision right -- is insane. Judgment is not something you can learn in school.


Yet, many people want to paint the time before 18 as filled with unicorns and rainbows. Most of the time, it sucked for me. For the longest time, I didn't have a way to get money (a job), no way to get around without someone else, and what little money I had, I couldn't spend it the way I wanted.


> In adult life you can quit a job, leave a town, change yourself.

Only if you've got the wealth. Most adults are wage slaves chained to grinding, unfulfilling jobs just to pay the bills and feed their families. Childhood might not seem so bad to them.


A 14 year old would have a hell of a time trying to 'set up' in a different town at all.

That an adult might find it difficult, or potentially end up in a worse situation, is besides the point.

And obviously I'm not talking about running away from a family.


Definition of adult depends on your values and culture. Some people staying with parents taking care of family would be adult in east Asia, but not having your own house and mortgage lacks maturity in the west. What it means to be an adult in the west is up in the air at the moment. We don't have easy institutional or cultural markers for what the American dream is or what adulthood should be. The old institutional rites of passage through college and graduation milestones is looking less attractive as the internet grows. Marriage can be seen as uncertain.

The only thing I can suggest is the idea of picking up your own cross and bearing it. Kid/job/mortgage has a lot of uncertainty built into it at the moment.


My pet theory on teens, and one I'm brainstorming for my own kids, is that they don't have enough meaningful responsibility within their families or communities. Somehow I want to find them work that is critical for the family and let them be in charge of it.

Whether they are more competent than we assume is an interesting angle, but I look back at my teens and feel like I was both competent enough for most work but also utterly useless compared to what I am now.

Edit: I'd reform school to add in lots of responsibility for older kids to teach and care for younger kids. Also perhaps get them helping with food production in gardens, farms, grocers, restaurants. What other meaningful work could we find for teens?


There is a French psychologist called Françoise Dolto who agrees with you, she even write a book about it. She says a great deal of the problems with adolescents today (where today is in the past century, this is not a recent book) is that they are not needed. So, exactly like adults who are not needed and left to their own devices, they develop para-social hierarchies, and/or turn to crime and develop mood problems.

Your teen can probably balance a checkbook and pay bills. Teens also eventually come to a point where they're really interested in driving and, in America, you can use that to make them run errands, take younger siblings to school, and so on. Even a scooter works fine for a lot of that.

Also, to use an example from my real life, as a teen I just... stayed with the other women and talked about their lives and offered emotional support, helped smooth over relationships, that sort of thing. Yeah I wouldn't have been able to negotiate someone's salary or something but most teens can tell Aunt Marie that Aunt Alice wants her coffee machine back while eliding the "and thinks you're ungrateful and live in a hovel" part. And I helped them with math too.


I love it! Thanks for the Dolto tip.


That is something I have seen as well by "well meaning" wanting to promote volunteering and well outright authoritarians. They fail to think of what it is like being in the other's shoes.

Responsibility forced upon without the perks is just another burden. They miss the important aspect of it long term - agency and power in decision making. I know many forever turned off from volunteering as they view community service a punishment they were unjustly assigned.

The correct answer is to support them in something they are interested in.


The “perk” is fulfilling a purpose in your social group. No ones talking about a volunteer death march.


Learning is critical work too, perhaps recognising that as a responsibility (to the family and wider society) might be a good idea.

I guess it depends on the kids whether more directly aiding through work is a greater benefit than preparing for later work.


That is an important point, and true that a teen’s main work is learning. I guess that’s lost on them too often.


I agree, but the problem is that school is already a full-time job. You can't add much additional work without risking owerworking your kids.


It seems the alternative is to potentially reduce school work then.


I remember reading sentiments like in the late 00's and early 10's and feeling justified in feeling that I at that age was being infantilized by society and that teenagers and people in their early twenties are more capable if they were given just, as the article puts it, not just more freedom but more responsibility. Today though, more than 10 years later, it seems the pendulum has continued to drift even further, with some people suggesting, as the article hints, that adults aren't really adults until perhaps 30.


> teenagers and people in their early twenties are more capable if they were given just, as the article puts it, not just more freedom but more responsibility.

Agree. Although it probably should come gradually, a 15 y.o. probably shouldn't be judged as hard as 25 y.o. or a 55 y.o.

I've read before that a theory is that choosing 18 years (or 21 or whatever it is where you live) as the age of adulthood was done in a time when people were actually held responsible for their actions after they were 15.

I also think I read that certain parts of the brain didn't develop until a person start being held accountable for their actions.

I cannot find it at the moment so for what I and you know this is pure speculation (unless anyone remember it or care to find it) but to me it doesn't sound to unreasonable


>in a time when people were actually held responsible for their actions after they were 15.

Interestingly enough, people are legally held criminally responsible at ages of 14-16 in quite a few countries. But even in those countries they're often treated as just kids with no say.


Really the age of responsibility is transparently bullshit based upon whatever is more convenient to the rulemakers and enforcers than any unified principles - and occasionally lapses into Kafkaesque insanity.


Agree on the easing into it as one grows older. I didn't fit that into my comment but that's what I think is more ideal.


I said it elsewhere in the thread, but I think you've keyed in on it with "responsibility". It would be interesting to study teens that have younger siblings that they have to take care of. Surely they hate it, but I would bet dollars that those teens turn out better than those of us with no responsibility for actual family/community needs.


>In recent surveys I've found that American teens are subjected to more than 10 times as many restrictions as mainstream adults, twice as many restrictions as active-duty U.S. Marines, and even twice as many as incarcerated felons.

What does this even mean? I don't feel as though "restrictions" are countable, fungible things.


I think the artificial extension of childhood is caused by the rapid increase in complexity of modern society, while our biological makeup is pretty much the same as 10.000 years ago.

To hold an avarage job and participate in society as an informed citizen you seem to need at least ~20 years of education in western economies.

We can't just go around by our instincts like animals any more without getting in trouble, I think that is what caused the extension of childhood.


That's intriguing enough that it might stick with me. Thanks!


I'm sure that a lot is wrong with our current eduction system for teens and that giving some amount of responsibility to teens would be good. But the claim that adolescents are as good or even better than adults when it comes to decision making or responsibility is just plain wrong and there is plenty of physical evidence that disproves it.

When teens reach their adolescence, the functioning of the frontal lobe in the brain is tuned down. The frontal lobe is what gives people self control; tune it down and you become more impulsive, emotional and risk seeking. The frontal lobe only returns to its normal mode when people reach their early twenties.

Source: e.g https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?Con...


The source you cite does not seem credible to me. It starts out with this statement which is obviously false:

"Good judgment isn’t something they can excel in, at least not yet."


Would you care to provide any evidence that a publication from the University of Rochester medical center, reviewed by an MD and two RNs is not credible?


What do the younger readers think of this?

What got me is "30 is the new 20". That may be mostly economic, driven by student loans keeping twentysomethings broke and the decline of middle class job openings.


Loans did not keep me broke, but unemplyment did. I feel like I got a very "late start" in life and I still haven't been able to shake off the feeling of uncertainty regarding future, employment, money, etc. At least I got a middle class wage now, but no property to speak of. It's long road from here on to something like home ownership.

I'm more concerned for my little sister who's accumulating student loans.


The article makes many strong but dubious claims. Like, I am inclined to believe that many teens and kids could handle more responsibility, but a lot written in article just does not sound trustworthy. (The part where I disagree is the part where author promotes early marriage, I dont think it is good idea to marry as teen.)

Like:

> American teens are subjected to more than 10 times as many restrictions as mainstream adults, twice as many restrictions as active-duty U.S. Marines, and even twice as many as incarcerated felons.

> It's hard to keep a marriage together when there is constant conflict with teens.

Are conflicts with teens really cause of that many divorces?

> The factory system doesn't work in the modern world, because two years after graduation, whatever you learned is out of date.

That is highly exaggerated statement. I am pretty sure 2 years after you are just find.

> Unfortunately, most people learn in those classrooms to hate education for the rest of their lives.

Is this actually true that over 50% of people hate school in America?

> young people are integrated into adult society as soon as they are capable, and there is no sign of teen turmoil

Is this result of actual study of teens in those societies? Or just reflection of assumptions? Because from what I read about history, in European societies where young people worked in the past, young people were still quick to join revolutionary movements or just get drunk and fight it out in streets. Plus, they often lived and work with families for economic reasons.

> Teens in America are in touch with their peers on average 65 hours a week, compared to about four hours a week in preindustrial cultures.

Were they really "in touch" with siblings and cousins only for 4 hours a week?

-------------

Plus, the reason teens are not considered adults is not that their IQ would be low. The reason is impulsivity and similar considerations.


> Plus, the reason teens are not considered adults is not that their IQ would be low. The reason is impulsivity and similar considerations.

Maybe what we call "impulsivity" is just an healthy reaction against absurd constraints and monotony? We forget very easily that we are animals, and the way we have been living for the last few centuries is radically different from the way we were evolved to live.

Perhaps factory-like schooling is inherently painful, and what we call "adulthood" is just learned helplessness...


1.) My life was way less monotonous when I was a teenager. The most monotonous period started when I had children. You dont get more monotonous then that currently. In school, at least you learn about something different every day and can do different things during breaks or read or play games.

2.) Before factory like schooling, I guess we mean feudalism and traditional farm households, teenagers were not free at all by any meaningful definition of that word. No one was.

3.) How far exactly in history do you want to go? Because you really have to go so far that we dont really know how people lived. But, it might involve getting pregnant at 14 by a strong dude who decides restrictions placed on you due to being stronger.


Medieval peasants (and serfs) had a lot of freedom with how to spend their day to day. They had chores, and several weeks a year of grueling sun up to sun down labor. But it's not usually harvest season or planting season, and they had nearly half the year off. Working hours increased dramatically during the industrial revolution.


Winter was not off. You still have to care about animals and you still have to care about tools and you still have to cook and care about toddlers and babies.

You still need to sew cloth, create shoes, create candles, feather-bed and what not.


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> I watch in horror the life of my friends who have children. It's an endless grind of extra-curricular activities and soul-crushing corporatized birthday "parties".

It is monotonous long before then. It becomes routine and monotony right after birth, when they are babies and toddlers.

The birthday parties are step out of monotony already and are extra-curricular activities - which they quite often transport themselves from and to and by which time you are already returning to normal life.

> People where much freer in many senses, for example most of their time was not dictated by someone else.

Young people were expected to listen to parents and live with them. You had to care about about animals if you had them, siblings, own children, craft needed stuff and generally work a lot.

You would not be able to wake up whenever you wanted.


People in traditional societies are also impulsive in that age. Besides, other mammals have the same transient period as well, from the domesticated (dogs) to the wild ones. It'not just modern human society.


n=1, but sure:

* Teenage life is a constant struggle against rules laid down by adults. They have money, legal power, and cultural experience. To be fair, teens are brats.

* Between me and my three siblings, only one of us did not cause the parents to consider divorce. Two siblings did cause divorces.

* The factory system really doesn't work. I recall ranting in debate class about how there isn't a single industry whose entry-level workflows are taught in school and yet high-schoolers are expected to be qualified to enter the workforce after graduation.

* 50% sounds quite low. Almost everybody hated school. In order to not hate school, one would have to be liked by teachers, high-performing both academically and in clubs, not mind hours of studying and cramming, and be at the top of the social hierarchy. I can think of maybe two people from my graduating class who definitely did not hate school, one of whom was valedictorian.

* Social networks are essential. Even as the weird geeky kid, people still constantly sent me instant messages and chats. Cell phones weren't yet common; I can only imagine that teens are even more gregarious now.

And sure, kids shouldn't marry young. I only saw one pair of teens doing that in my graduating class, but it does happen occasionally.


> And sure, kids shouldn't marry young. I only saw one pair of teens doing that in my graduating class, but it does happen occasionally.

The article author advocates for early marriage. I am not saying that it is good idea nor how often it happened. I am reacting to article author claiming it would be a good idea to marry them teenagers.


Oh! Then no, of course not. Marriage is only useful as an instrument of coercion and control; nobody should feel like they ought to get married.


Not that long ago teens went to work at 16 or younger, my mum worked at Cable and Wireless as a telex operator.

And the generation before that often started work at 14, I recall chatting with a retired guy who had started work at the GPO as a telegram messenger boy at 14

And in more rural areas of the US they would have worked on the farm from a young age.


I'm struggling to think of any knowledge or skill which has become obsolete in the last two years. Has the last Cobol program been ported at last?


> two years after graduation, whatever you learned is out of date

I don't get this point? Does algebra get outdated in two years? History? Grammar? Big O notation? Design Patterns? Concrete pouring techniques? Basic chemistry?


There are people who memorize only what is required to pass a test and once they do so, they think they have learnt the subject matter.

So you end up with someone who "knows" Big O because they memorized the current algorithm and and what works best in each situation but if you present them with a new algorithm, they will not be able to tell you if it is better or not because they can't do the analysis.

There are alot of people who just want what is required to do their job now, are not interested in how the tools they use work and resent it if you change the tool or make it work differently.


But that's not a failure of education


If they spent more time teaching this it would be great.

I got to hear how communists are bad mkay and weed is very dangerous. Today I expect they spend a bunch of time hearing how cross dressing is perfectly natural and anyone thinking differently is bad mkay. (just to be clear, not passing judgement on the truth of any of the above just noting a large portion of public "education" is ill informed opinion and attempted indoctrination).


Didn't see a lot of citations in that a article. Still I'd agree that parents may have too much authority over teens.

Growing up in a very religious household did some damage to me. But thankfully the schools taught us to break out of group think, the scientific method, and exposed us to a lot more viewpoints.

Though I doubt letting younger teens enter into long term contacts. Teens can be impulsive and lack the experience to comprehend the consequences.


One of the things which blew me away as a yoot; reading about Alfred Krupp, who built a small family business into the Krupp empire ... starting at age 14.

For whatever reasons, no real english language Wiki entry (this is all there is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krupp#Alfred_Krupp), but there are multiple books on his incredibly productive life. Makes any modern entrepreneur look like a wantrepreneur. He did it as a teenager.

I don't think the PT article is exactly right, but history teaches us it is obviously true that teenagers are capable of much more than we ask of them now. Alexander won his first battles at 16. Augustus was active in politics as a teenager. Keeping kids cooped up playing video games and skateboarding is just keeping competition caged in, rather than unleashing human fire on the world.


I have to think that the cause of our overschooling is the fact that for the most part there is nothing for teens (and now even young adults) to do. We don't have jobs for the vast majority of young people. We don't even have enough jobs for people over the age of 26 (even though we saw the unemployment level is at record lows). If we put all these people in the work force it would cause a huge economic and political crisis.


Nearly 100% agree that teens having nothing meaningful to do is the problem, but you're conclusion is scary. How about reforming school so that older kids spend about 25% of their time teaching and caring for younger kids? I'd probably start there.


That still wouldn't work - to be frank that sounds like neglect on a massive scale and wasting everyone's time in a paternalistic way. How would you like it if the government decided to handle homelessness and the foster care by assigning you an orphan and/or homeless stranger? Or being assigned after you lost your job? Yeah I would think that would generate plenty of work - police work.

There are twofold issues with it - one is the level of career education for the demands and the lack of true entry level ladders - most jobs skilled up and automated and two that existing areas which need labor aren't funded as much as they should nor alternatives chosen.


Schools already do it in small ways with older kids mentoring younger kids. The concept of mixing ages is well-known and well-regraded, for the reasons I’m suggesting.

Your objection is out of place considering there’s been no discussion of details; certainly those need to be hammered out. Unfortunately, your comment is baselessly dismissive and unhelpful.


Prejudice based upon age is the last remaining socially acceptable form of prejudice. Most articles about adolescents read exactly like opinions about various races, women, etc in the past. The arguments are the same, and the conclusions are the same. The lack of scientific evidence is, also, the same. Repeatedly they observe some limitation and conclude, without any evidence at all, that the limitation is not due to lack of education or socially-inflicted lack of experience but endemic and unavoidable.

One of the most popular misunderstandings of neuroscience going around recently is the "brain isn't fully developed until age 25" idea. This is often parroted and repeated, often by otherwise quite knowledgeable people, without any understanding of what brain development is, or how it occurs. The idea is used to support notions of restriction and sheltering, which is totally at odds with every understanding of how brain development actually occurs. The brain develops in response to novel experience, and solely in response to novel experience. Lack of novel experiences leads to lack of brain development. When an infants visual cortex is immature and incapable of stereoscopic vision, the exactly wrong course of action would be to cover one eye. Doing so would prevent the brain from developing the ability to integrate vision from both eyes into a coherent single image. The issue is even more problematic when you look at what criteria is used to judge the brains "immaturity" in the material supporting the "immature until 25" claim. What they examine is neuroplasticity. They observe that neuroplasticity reduces substantially after age 25. They interpret that as a sign that the brain is 'done' with it's primary development, but that's a bit of an arguable point. It is just as likely, in my opinion, that neuroplasticity in a high state is the desirable condition and that its reduction is a consequence of the end of introduction of large quantities of new experiences due to most people entering the working world and settling into a 'routine' life.

On a lighter note, just imagine if this perspective were to change, socially. If in 10 or 20 years time prejudice against teens were viewed with as much disgust as racism and sexism are now. Old tweets griping about teens being surfaced and people being 'cancelled' over them, etc. It would be quite different. But, there would probably be markedly less school shootings.


> The issue is even more problematic when you look at what criteria is used to judge the brains "immaturity" in the material supporting the "immature until 25" claim. What they examine is neuroplasticity

No, it isn't neuroplasticity, it's capacity for executive function, which reaches a basic level in early adolescence, but continues to develop through adolescence and early adulthood, is at its peak from about the mid-20s to early-30s, and regresses slightly thereafter back to a level similar to the late teens by about the 70s.

Neuroplasticity is usually what people point to when claiming the young have an advantage in learning or adapting to new environments, but not when talking about teens not being ready to be trusted with the full responsibilities of adults.


Youth rights is something I wish liberals would get behind publicly. I know nobody wants to make controversial statements supporting people that can't vote, but at least teens control a decent portion of the online political activity. Instead, we're watching a mass crackdown on teen vaping and college drinking in fraternities. At least Bernie is willing to fight off people trying to let employers pay teens less than minimum wage as they do in Australia.


We can't go back (and who would want to) - the challenge for a modern parent is to give the kids as much rope as humanly possible. It's tough and can be terrifying - when are they old enough to cross the big street two blocks from the house or walk to school alone. I did those things at 7 (with my 9 year old brother), but my daughter was around 11 when we got up the nerve to let her. But the role of the parent should be constantly pushing the little birds closer to the edge of the nest, even when the thought is unsettling.


One of the issues I see is that teens usually don't think about the future, and that is bad if you think that they are the future... does this make sense?


Is short-term thinking a problem limited to teenagers? It seems even more problematic in adults who wield the power and from what I've seen short-term thinking is very prevalent at any age group in humans.


Lets put it this way - we should probably be using the term long term thinker instead of short term thinker from a compression standpoint

The ones getting shat on for taking student loans are long term thinkers relatively speaking - and also illustrate that it doesn't always work out.


emerging science about brain development suggests that most people don't reach full maturity until the age 25

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=141164...




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