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At 18, a person is legally an adult. They can vote, drive a car, live on their own, join the military and buy cigarettes. What if mentally this isn’t true? What if an 18-year-old needs seven more years of cognitive development before reaching actual maturity?
Research from the National Institutes of Health show that the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain associated with inhibition of risky behavior, doesn’t get fully developed until age 25. This can mean that people under 25 exhibit more risky behavior more often than that of their older counterparts. Statistically, that would be the majority of students at Pierce College.
Accidents are the leading cause of deaths among this specific age group no thanks to the underdeveloped prefrontal cortex, which explains why car companies restrict the rental age to 25 and above, maybe they were on to something.
A NIH project that studied over a hundred young people as they grew up during the 1990s showed that the brain undergos a massive reorganization between the twelfth and twenty-fifth years.
How is one to keep all of their hormones and thoughts together with all of that going on in their brains? While the brain isn’t growing much during this time, it’s definitely working overtime.
This could be another factor in the overabundance of risky behavior, but what’s to stop a mature adult over 25 from taking the same amount of risk? According to reports listed on CNN, it all comes down to the reward.
Mature adults take more time to weigh out the pros and cons and are more likely to come to the final decision that it’s probably not worth the risk in the first place.
While trying to become independent and get out on their own, individuals may be doing more harm than good, moving out too fast. Society certainly doesn’t want to raise a generation of lazy 20 and 30 something’s. This is where the parents come in.
Parents can’t wait on their children hand and foot but can force them to pay rent, have them clean their own clothes and living area, buy their own food and anything else they would do if they were living on their own. The benefits of having children live at home until maturity is being supportive during their most important state of cognitive functioning and development.
While society looks down on the “stupid things” that 18 year olds do, let’s think for a moment about their brain’s capacity and cut them a little slack (depending on circumstances) because their prefrontal cortex isn’t yet caught up with the older generation.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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