When Does Adulthood Start?


By: Sean Donovan

Congratulations you’re 25 and you can you can finally rent a car, only one more year until you’ll be kicked off your parents health care! Is that when you start your adult life, or is it when you turn 18? To say the least we don’t seem to have a limit that distinctively tells us when we have reached adulthood.

In recent years our political climate has been heated and in flux, between a new presidential administration and many new Democratic and Republican representatives coming into the playing field. With so many new policies being proposed in Congress, very few of these bills get major media coverage, however with the power of social media many politicians have been very open about new ideas and proposals they have. One of these proposals is to lower the voting age down to 16 years old with the “197-1 Amendment” Which would allow 16 year olds to register and vote in both state and national elections. This got me thinking as an 18 year old student, am I truly an adult yet?

It seems that we’ve blurred the lines of what is truly considered as adulthood. The question revolving around two terms; age and maturity. For years we’ve grown up believing that once we hit our 18th birthday we are considered an adult, but yet we have to wait until we turn 21 to drink alcohol and till your 25 until to rent a car and get to stay on our parents health insurance till 26?! Does something seem wrong with this picture? For me, it certainly does. Over the past 50 years our society has drifted so far making new laws and regulations, ensuring that we are “protected.” But what are we being protected from? After all, aren’t we adults? Well some don’t think so.

In a recent article by the BBC, research suggests that humans do not reach adulthood until their early thirties. Doctors who were interviewed by the British News Network make claims that an adult brain is not fully matured until we reach an age of at least 30 years old. Yet in many countries, including the UK, 18 year olds are considered adults. Neurologist, based off of research and scans, have concluded that humans are still going through major brain changes and developing throughout our twenties. So what does this article tell us, well very little to be fair. Though the BBC did run the story, they didn’t speak much about brain development and specific scans, and only relied on what doctors told interviewers.

So perhaps we shouldn’t use the BBC to set a definition for adulthood, we’d have to wait another 12 years before we could vote! Though the brain scans are most likely the best scientific evidence there is to support the idea that adulthood starts later, it doesn’t mean we are undeveloped and unable to make rational decisions and choices.

That leaves only one option then, maturity. After all many of our parents praise us for our “maturity” how we handle situations, and confront issues that arise in our lives. But that doesn’t mean we act like this all the time. And what really is maturity. To be fair there is no basic objective answer, maturity is a subjective matter that we can only conclude based on our pasted experiences and the way we view the world.

So I go back to the question I proposed at the beginning. “When does adulthood start.” To be fair it’s subjective and up to speculation. Some people believe adulthood should be based on age, others on maturity, and some may never understand how to “act” as an adult. So the solution? Simple, stop changing the standards. The only way to base adulthood in a structured system is by choosing an age. But by choosing this age we must give all the freedoms an adult deserves, from voting, to drinking, and everything in between. Otherwise we will continue to send a message to young adults that an individual is not trusted or grown until the government says so.