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From time to time, people cite the fact that the word “teenager” only came into use in the 1940s as evidence of what novel creatures they are historically, but all this really demonstrates is a shift in terminology.
Before that time, someone was more likely to refer to an “adolescent” (dating from Middle English), a “young adult” (a definite collocate at least by 1762), or a “pubescent” (first used in 1795).
In our new age of being “wired” wirelessly 24/7, there is a lot of debate – especially over the wireless Internet – about what new technologies are “doing” to us: making us lonely, or dumb, or frenetic, or surveilled, or empowered, or disempowered, and so on.
The newfound independence in lifestyle and clothing went hand-in-hand during this modern decade.half-wondered, half-complained to the world, “Why are so many people in their 20s taking so long to grow up?” The article was a splashy survey of research being conducted by psychology professor Jeffrey Arnett into what he called “emerging adulthood”—better known as “your twenties.” For Arnett, establishing this time as a period marked by particular psychological and behavioral traits like “self-focus” and “identity exploration” was crucial to explaining why young adults in places like the US, Europe, and Japan are taking longer and longer to move out, get a job, get married, and have kids.Listening to jazz and dancing the Charleston were only the public demonstrations of a new looseness that shocked the older generation.Demographic records and oral histories suggest that the proportion of American women who had premarital sex rose noticeably in the first two or three decades of the twentieth century.
The article presented the psychological codification of emerging adulthood, like that of adolescence before it, as a “discovery.” But this is more than a little disingenuous.