The Student News Site of Dakota Ridge High School

The Cord News

The Student News Site of Dakota Ridge High School

The Cord News

The Student News Site of Dakota Ridge High School

The Cord News

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Why is 18 the Age of Adulthood?

Hannah Busing on Unsplash
How fast the brain develops has been proven to be related to social experiences during adolescence. The more emotionally burdening experiences a person has, the faster their brain develops.

I woke up excited for the day ahead of me. My mom came up to my room to say, “Happy 18th birthday,” but I wondered — am I really an adult? I feel the same. Why is this age such a big deal? Nothing seems to change in my day-to-day life. 

The law (in most states in the U.S.) declares that 18 is the age when you become an adult, but there are still so many restrictions that make it hard to feel as if you have all the freedom in the world. Don’t get me wrong, restrictions are needed, but why is 18 the age that a person needs to have everything figured out? Why is 18 the age one becomes an “adult?”

At 18, you are able to make your own choices regarding lots of things including piercings, tattoos, contracts, voting, marriage, living (can now buy or rent houses/apartments), buying fireworks, etc. But most 18 year olds are still in high school and living with their parents, so how can that be considered an adult? Research has shown that at age 18, the brain is still going through many changes that affect behavior. BBC news interviewed Professor Peter Jones from Cambridge University who describes adulthood as, “a much more nuanced transition that takes place over three decades.”   

The varying age requirements confuses many “new adults” and gives the overall impression that at 18 they can be trusted enough to risk their lives overseas and make decisions for the future of the country, but they cannot be trusted enough to make safe decisions regarding alcohol or cigarettes. Personally, that is very confusing to me. How am I allowed, and even expected, to make big life decisions, but I am still not trusted enough to drink alcohol or smoke? 

The teen brain is better at adapting to new experiences and situations than an adult brain due to the teen brain still developing. (Brook Nekuda)

According to Slate News, before the 26th Amendment was passed in 1971, the voting age was 21. Congress lowered the voting age to 18 because people felt that if one was old enough to be drafted, they should also be old enough to vote. Keeping 21 as the majority age didn’t make sense when lawmakers allowed 18 year olds to vote, so states started using 18 as the age for adulthood. The reason the drinking age remained at 21 was due to a number of drunk driving accidents. The drinking age was temporarily set at 18, but research found a jump in the number of drunk drivers between the ages of 18-20.

Adulthood is a social construct, rather than a scientific one. Science can tell you when a person is done growing and developing, or the average age, but a person will change throughout the course of a lifetime. Everyone is different, too, so even the development of each individual varies. According to The National Institute of Mental Health, the brain doesn’t stop developing until after the mid to late 20s. Someone without a fully developed brain should not be expected to make so many decisions. 

Though people can move out at the age of 18, fewer and fewer are able to these days as compared to just a decade ago, due to the cost of living. Therefore, the majority of 18 year olds are still living with their parents or off to college, usually with parental support. Those who are in college are most commonly not completely on their own; they still go home to visit their parents, and the majority still have tremendous support from them.

No, some 18 year olds aren’t receiving any support, but a lot of them who move out right away are struggling because they don’t have the funds to keep up with paying for themselves. They have most likely just graduated high school and just recently gotten a full-time job that isn’t even enough to cover living expenses. It is definitely possible for some, but very challenging for most. Moving out at 18 should be more of a choice and less of an expectation. 

The federal minimum wage has not adjusted since 2009, it was $7.25 then and is $7.25 now. However, the price of houses has gone up tremendously. According to FedPrimeRate, in September, 2013, the average price of a home was $321,400. The average price of a home in September, 2023, was $515,000. The price difference was $193,600, and the federal minimum wage has not changed since then. Although the Colorado minimum wage has changed, it hasn’t changed by much. In 2013, Colorado’s minimum wage was $7.78 and in 2023 it was $13.65. 

The pressure received from older generations is huge. Things are different now, though, whether anyone likes to admit it or not. We need to stop putting so much pressure on people at such a young age. It’s okay not to have your whole life figured out at the ripe old age of 18. 

I’ve got lots of goals and aspirations for the future, but the pressure of the outside world should not be put on me. There are many more birthdays to come, and there is much more life to experience — there’s no need to figure it all out now.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Brook Nekuda
Brook Nekuda, Staff Writer
Brook Nekuda is a senior at Dakota Ridge and a first year reporter for The Cord News. She joined the team to broaden her experience and further develop her writing. Outside of school, she enjoys hanging out with friends, being outdoors, and going to concerts. She hopes to pursue a career in nursing when she graduates. 

Comments (0)

All The Cord News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *