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New research says we should consider young people adolescents until they turn 25. (AP file)

Feel like an adult? New research says adolescence should be extended

When you turn 18, you're thought of and treated as an adult. But if you don't feel so grown up, there's a good reason for it. New research says we should actually consider someone an adolescent until they turn 25.

Experts in the U.K. are now advising child psychologists to raise the age they treat young people as adolescents to make sure they don't fall through the cracks when it comes to education and health care.

"We used to think that the brain was fully developed by very early teenager-hood and we now realize that the brain doesn't stop developing until mid-20s or even early 30s," clinical psychologist Sarah Helps tells the BBC.

That sparked a spirited conversation on the Dori Monson Show about when we start feeling like adults.

"Coming back from college and still being very dependent on my parents because I didn't have a job yet, I felt very much like a child then. And that was not fun," says producer Jake Skorheim, now 29.

Anchor Ursula Reutin says she moved out of her parent's house when she was 19 and started paying her own way through school, but it was a few years later that she started feeling like an adult.

"I didn't feel like I was an adult, per se, until I was 21 when I could stop using my sister's ID to get into a bar," she laughs.

As for Dori, although he worked since he was young, it was being put in charge of logistics for KING TV's Winter Olympics coverage when he was 26 that first made him feel adult. And a few years later, he had no doubt he was now a full-fledged grownup when he first held his newborn daughter.

"That's a life-changing moment. The moment that she came out I went from a kid to an adult in an instant."

Many show listeners seem to agree.

Phil in Issaquah says he's living with parents again at 24 after college.

"It's not that I'm irresponsible, but I don't feel like I am responsible, if that makes any sense. I feel like 25 - when I hit that number, that's a good number."

Thomas, 23, in Renton says he believes he became an adult when he turned 21, but attributes it more to the influences in his life rather than his age.

"I believe masculinity is the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility. So I think there are a lot of 10-year-old men in this world and a lot of 90-year-old boys in this world. It doesn't have to do with your age, it has to do with your heart and your motives and living for others and not for yourself."

Ross in Kirkland, a 25-year-old, also says how he was raised is more important than an arbitrary number when it comes to adulthood.

"For me, I started working at 15, 16-years-old and my parents, rather than shielding me from life's changes and things that can happen to you while you're growing up, they taught me how to deal with it in a constructive way."

Ross says he thinks too many people have settled for mediocrity and a lack of drive.

"It's just that lack of looking into the future and seeing what your decisions are going to do for you five, ten years from now rather than what it's going to do for you next week."

Dori couldn't agree more. It's one of his biggest messages whenever he gives a talk, especially when he speaks to young people.

"Your life is the sum total of the decisions you make."

So when is someone actually an adult? Kalo in Sequim worries the new research could help delay that even further.

"If we don't at some point, expect someone to be an adult at a younger age, then they're not going to be an adult."

But based on the research about brain development, it might be as simple as just telling someone to start acting like an adult.

Josh Kerns, MyNorthwest.com
Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.
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