Emerging Adulthood Essay Example


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Essay About Emerging Adulthood

Emerging Adulthood Essay: Introduction

Life changes. Bringing no surprise for anyone, life itself changes along with what it contains: people, science and technology, economy, and nature. Everything evolves in time, and Charles Darwin summarizes this fact with a very simple yet accurate. The only thing that does not change is the change itself. Therefore, the way people live life changes in time as well. There are main and side factors for this change which will be detailed throughout this paper. At this point, first, name this change and define what it is. The change in people’s lives is called the “emerging adulthood” by J.J. Arnett, who gave a speech on this topic on TED (2015). Arnett (2007) defines emerging adulthood as the transition from adolescence to young adulthood and a stable lifestyle and researches the reasons for the forward shift of this transition in people’s lifespan by comparing generations’ lifestyles and experiences at the same time in their lives. Barnett (2007) carries his argument onward by stating, “With respect to the question of whether emerging adulthood is experienced positively or negatively by most people, it is argued that it is positive for most people but entails developmental challenges that may be difficult and there is great heterogeneity, with some emerging adults experiencing serious problems.” In addition to his works cited above, considering his speech performance on TEDxPSU, he obviously was somewhere in between excited and nervous. However, despite the small flaws in his speech, he draws attention to a very important fact that shows up slowly through generations and takes time for people to recognize it, just like the evolution. Along with the technical, technological, and scientific developments, the lives of people and their preferences indispensably change.

Body Paragraphs

The speech of J.J. Arnett (TED, March 2015) named “Why does it take so long to grow up today?” concentrates on the lives of individuals and the effect of the change in individuals’ lives on society. J. J. Arnett, the founder of the theory “emerging adulthood”, argues that the time of the transition in people’s life from adolescence to young adulthood shifted in time, and this shift led to the ascent of a new time interval in people’s lives, which Arnett calls emerging adulthood.

According to Arnett (TED, 2015), there are four main reasons for this change. He lists these reasons as the following four revolutions; the technology revolution, the sexual revolution, the women’s movement, and the youth movement. Arnett also emphasizes the importance of industrialization in creating this new stage in people’s lives. First off, let us see the effect of industrialization. As Arnett (2007) indicated, the more a society of concern is modernized in terms of vulture capitalism, the more the shreds of evidence of Arnett’s theory are seen. However, at this point, it is worth paying attention to that industrialization is not actually a positive factor all the time. Even though today’s vulture capitalist system advertises industrialization as the concept of “modern life” or “modernization”, the fact is that it destroys the structure of the society.

In the speech of Arnett (TED, 2015), the link between the technology revolution and industrialization was emphasized with the following example; “another huge the technology revolution of the last fifty years has been the transition from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge economy.” This could be opened up as the technology has been improved enough to robotize manufacturing that labor force is not as crucial as it was in the past. The effect of needing less labor force and environmental concerns causes main manufacturing to be shifted to other countries. As a result, the structure of the economy changes from manufacturing to knowledge, which means that trade, economics, and marketing take the place of machine building, maintenance, and arm power. This causes people to study longer in order to obtain academic degrees and start their career later than people did fifty years ago. In the 60s, women were able to start a family at around the age of 20, and it was 23 for men. However, today it is 27 for women and 29 for men. This was mainly caused by the need to study more and work harder to establish a consistent financial situation (TED, 2015).

The second reason that Arnett (TED, 2015) draws attention is the sexual revolution. Other than the change in people’s minds, the advance of birth control options helped people have sexual experiences at earlier ages and more freely than past. Therefore, people are now able to postpone settling down due to financial causes without sacrificing one of their basic instincts.

Thirdly, the women’s movement is another factor that has a crucial effect on emerging adulthood. Along with industrialization and the sexual revolution, women gained power in society as well. Arnett (TED, 2015) exemplifies this as “women in 60s had no other chance to find a man and get married. However, now, women study, work, and have their financial freedom.” As a result of these changes, women are not supposed to settle down to be considered as adults today, which brings freedom to women as it should do.

The fourth and the last factor, the youth movement, is the one that contributes to change the understanding of the concept of “youth”. Today’s youth define it themselves what being youth and adult are. Adulthood was defined by some good yet cliché factors such as status, money, and career in the past. However, people define their status for themselves today. A young man or woman in the early 20s could chase a career or money. On the other hand, he or she could fall behind intentionally and have a less competitive life. Thus, today, adulthood is not what you possess, but it is what you feel or wants to be. Barnett remarks in his speech (TED, 2015) that today’s youth do not hurry into adulthood, and they prefer prolonging their youth.

I personally think that the theory of J. J. Arnett is valid and meaningful. I completely agree that change is the origin of life. Therefore, stages, styles, content, and length of human life change with time. These changes could be perceived as good or bad, but the truth is the change itself. For me, all changes are good if a person could adapt to them. I believe that I am quite able to adapt to the concept of emerging adulthood. The length of human life is longer compared to the 60s, and the economic facts are totally different as well. Therefore, settling down at a later age is actually an advantage for people, in my opinion. The reflection of this theory into real life is the oppression from elderly people towards today’s youth about settling down. However, not to forget that the youth of 60s had the similar problems and were dictated to follow a certain path by their parents as well. Conflict of generations is always present, and Arnett distinguished it very well.

Emerging Adulthood Essay: Conclusion

In conclusion, the speech (TED, 2015) and the article (2007) by Arnett draw attention to an arising issue of today. He constitutes his theory on four main factors, which are the technological revolution, the sexual revolution, the women’s movement, and the youth movement. Being able to present four solid reasons for his theory as a cause is a crucial advantage of J. J. Arnett. After constitution his theory, he explains the cause-and-effect relation between and states his thoughts successfully. As it was stated earlier, I agree with all the terms of emerging adulthood theory and believe that it has a positive effect on people. Although it would not stop the change in people’s lives and make the theory invalid if emerging adulthood had a negative effect on us, human nature consists of adaptation, and we are able to adapt to emerging adulthood which makes it beneficial for us.


Arnett, J. J. (2007). Emerging adulthood: What is it, and what is it good for?. Child development perspectives, 1(2), 68-73.

TED. (2015, March 1). Why does it take so long to grow up today? | Jeffrey Jensen Arnett [Video]. YouTube. https://youtube.com/watch?v=fv8KpQY0m6o

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