USA Today: Immaturity a growing problem among youth

Be prepared, students and employers. A recent trend of immaturity is on the rise for 20-year-olds, possibly implying negative effects on the professional success of that age group, according to an article in USA Today

Be prepared, students and employers.

A recent trend of immaturity is on the rise for 20-year-olds, possibly implying negative effects on the professional
success of that age group, according to an article in USA Today last month.

“Young people today are delaying settling down into careers and marriage, both of which tend to reduce risky behaviors,” the article states. Among the immature behaviors cited in the article are pregnancies of unwed mothers, binge drinking and violent crimes, which are most common among young adults, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the FBI. Statistics in the article show that 56 percent of births among women 20 to 24 years of age were out of wedlock.

The number is 29 percent for women 25-29. USA Today also notes the heaviest
alcohol use is among 20-year-olds, particularly ages 21 to 25, where alcohol use was at 67.4 percent and binge drinking was at 45.7 percent, according to the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Temple senior journalism major Aly Semigran said she was a little overwhelmed by the article’s statements.

“It’s an interesting topic,” she said, “but with too many factors.”Among those factors is why this type of behavior occurring and what the consequences are. Historical statistics show immaturity among 20-year-olds is nothing new.

The percentage of non-marital births and binge drinking among twenty-somethings has increased steadily over the years. While the number of non-marital births to women ages 20 to 24 was a mere 4.8 percent in 1960, the number jumped to 8.9 percent 10 years later, then to 19.4 percent by 1980, and 44.9 percent by 1994, according to the Department of Health and Human ServicesThe Journal of American College Health reported heavy alcohol use as the “number one health problem affecting college students” in the 1990s. The publication’s studies found binge drinking to have 43.2 percent prevalence among the same demographic in 1997.

Most students asked about the situation tended to have similar reactions
as to the reasoning behind this type of behavior, commenting that such problems stem from early issues.

“How a person acts when they get older is a reflection of the environment they were raised in,” said Rebecca Abboud, a junior film and media arts student. “It’s cliché, but it all goes back to the parents.”

“I think the extended adolescence that people in their 20s tend to go through is a reflection on their parents in some cases,” said senior secondary education major Lindsey Jenkins.

“These days, it’s common for people to take five, six, seven years to graduate, and in most cases, parents are willing to financially and emotionally support their children through their college career,” Jenkins added.

The general consensus among students questioned was that such immaturity is a phase that doesn’t necessarily affect other factors and will eventually be overcome. It could be assumed that with young adults acting out, they would be less and less likely to accept certain responsibilities, including those expected of them in the workforce. While USA Today’s article asserts that those in their 20s are putting off their professional careers, local employers don’t seem to notice any dramatic negative change in the maturity of those who do choose to work.

“I believe there has always been a percentage of young adults that are immature,” said Deborah Hartnett, associate vice president of human resources at Temple. “I have even interviewed people in their 40s that are still immature. I am impressed by how sophisticated, articulate, energetic and motivated many of our young adults are.”

When asked about this trend, several local employers asserted that they have not had any difficulties with employees in their 20s.

“People in their 20s don’t always have a grasp of reality and the world in which they exist,” said Mike Major,
a 25-year-old manager at a North Broad Street restaurant. Major spoke on the condition that the name of his establishment would not be revealed.

“Too often, we are self-absorbed and act accordingly . . . [but] this is not indicative of work habits,” Major said.Jennifer Molsky, a 23-year-old who recently graduated from Temple last spring, has her own opinions.

“I think a lot of twenty-somethings are immature and screw up and ruin the reputation for the good ones,” Molsky said.

Erin Pollock can be reached at

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