I often hear people putting correlations between age and maturity. However, does age really equal to maturity? In this era of easier access to information, you will agree with me that many knowledge that are freely available now, even for kids, took the older generation a greater majority of their adult life to acquire. One very remarkable thing about this era is the increase in intelligence but paradoxically, we can't say the same thing about advancing emotionally.
A renowned sociologist and psychologist; Tony Campolo; once said (and I paraphrase) "this kids of this generation are not spoilt, they just know too much very quickly". Now, looking at this statement, you will discover one thing, in this generation, there has been an exposure of contents to kids in a way that has never been witnessed before. Simply put, kids of nowadays tend to grab more knowledge than their counterparts of last century.
This means that, intelligently, they are already moving way beyond their age. However, this is also a bane to them because in the area of emotions, they will not have prepared themselves well for it. When they go out to interact with the real world, they will discover that it is not as the cyberspace or media has presented it to be and the theories they know may be largely insignificant in a practical world. This is just like a chick trying to hatch before the due time, only to realize that it was not prepared to face the world.
This is one of the reasons teenagers tend to struggle with maturity. Another reason is, the various parts of the brain that is responsible for various things have different rates of development. For example, the area responsible for learning of languages has a faster rate of development according to this research. This is why kids born in a particular location tend to pick up the language of the location faster than adults that just migrated there. Whereas, the area that is responsible for critical decision-making (the frontal lobe) peaks out at early 20s.
Now considering this fact, a research was conducted by Prof Alison Gopnik and it was discovered that the brain, around the age of 11-14, undergoes what is known as "pruning". I mean, a process where the brain readjusts itself and thereby losing some connections in the brain cells. At this point, the teenager may experience series of mood swing and other emotional imbalance.
You see, even though kids nowadays do have greater knowledge-base, it has almost not increased the rate of emotional maturity. This has led many to believe that age, information, and maturity are not mutually inclusive.
One may now ask; what are the markers of maturity, since we have already looked beyond the age factor? Firstly, assuming responsibility and commitment is a principal mark of maturity. Then, ability to accept both criticisms and flattery without being emotional bewildered. Most importantly, maturity is also indicated in decision taking. That is, taking decisions without recourse to feelings but purely based on character.
You can also read this article on signs of maturity
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