But “if it’s fear-based,” he said, “obviously that’s a concern.” Among teenagers now, “there is a feeling you’re getting of, ‘Wow, the world is pretty serious, so why would I rush to immerse myself? “They’re starting to realize, wow, they really do have to worry about their résumés,” she said.

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That seems sort of unrealistic.” Although the study did not look at people under 13, Twenge said she suspects the postponement of adult behavior begins in early childhood, starting with the decrease in children walking to school alone or playing unsupervised.

In recent decades parents have become more restrictive about independent activities, and laws in some states have codified this, banning children from going out in public or staying home without adult accompaniment.

In the first scenario, “you’d have a lot of kids and be in survival mode, start having kids young, expect your kids will have kids young, and expect that there will be more diseases and fewer resources,” said Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University who is the author of “i Gen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.” A century ago, when life expectancy was lower and college education less prevalent, “the goal back then was survival, not violin lessons by 5,” Twenge said.

In that model, a teenage boy might be thinking more seriously about marriage, and driving a car and working for pay would be important for “establishing mate value based on procurement of resources,” the study said.

Whether the changes are positive or negative depends on the reasons for delaying adult activities, Siegel said. Why don’t I stay with my friends and away from anything that has heavy consequences, like pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases?

If the delay is to make room for creative exploration and forming better social and emotional connections, it is a good thing. ’ ” Teenagers are also more conscious now about the possible repercussions of their actions, said Stephanie Coontz, director of research at the Council on Contemporary Families.When 17-year-old Quattro Musser hangs out with friends, they don’t drink beer or cruise around in cars with their dates.Rather, they stick to G-rated activities such as rock-climbing or talking about books.“Climate change is super real, and it’s obviously happening as we speak,” she said.February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month Dating violence can happen to any teen in a romantic, dating, or sexual relationship, anytime, anywhere. Learn how to prevent teen dating violence and to promote healthy relationships with CDC’s online resources.(Legislation has also delayed another adult activity: In the 1970s, the legal drinking age was as young as 18 in some states; it is now 21 almost universally.) To Daniel Siegel, an adolescent psychiatrist and author of “Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain,” it makes sense that adolescents would “remodel” their brains to adapt to a society that has changed since the 19th century.