When are kids old enough to wear makeup? Go to sleepover? Get a Cell Phone?
Whether it’s getting a car for the first time or going to see an R rated movie, everyone has an idea of what age these first-time activities are deemed appropriate for kids. A recent Harris Poll asked American adults and teens to weigh in on when it’s proper for a kid to do certain things. They also dished on when they personally did each.
When it comes to wearing makeup, Americans – on average – say a kid should be nearly 15 years old (14.8). Similarly, Americans were 14.7, on average, when they began wearing makeup for the first time.
Teens, however, have a different perspective and say they started at 13 – a significantly lower age than their adult counterparts. This could explain why 8 in 10 Americans (81%) say parents today let their kids wear makeup way too young.
Come of Age
Americans may be wary of other activities happening too soon as well. In fact, overall, 92% of adults say kids today are growing up too quickly. But when should a kid not have to turn to their parents for permission and be considered an adult on their own? On average, the magic age is 18.8 years old. However, older adults – specifically those 65 years and older – say this should actually be 19.5, significantly higher than their younger counterparts.
Americans say kids are ready at age 11 (10.7 on average) to venture out to a sleepover. When it comes to staying home alone, however, 13.5 is the magic age. Older Americans – those 45 and over – are more likely than teenagers to state a significantly higher age, on average. This is despite the fact that Americans say they were allowed to stay home alone a whole year earlier than this, at 12.5 years old.
Frist Rock Concert
Staying in the comforts of home is one thing, but if a child is looking to attend their first concert without a parent, they may be waiting a bit longer. While Americans went to their first concert at 18 (17.7 on average), they say kids are actually ready a bit younger – at 16.5 years of age.
Sixteen years old is when Americans feel kids are ready for their first one-on-one date. Interestingly, this is largely agreed upon across generations. No need to wait for the official first date to get a little face time, however. Americans agree kids are ready for their first kiss at age 15 (15.1 on average), while on average, they had theirs at age 14.5.
But first, let’s talk about sex. Americans feel kids need the “sex talk” at age 12 (12.3 on average), a year earlier than they were given the chat (13.2 on average).
A hotly debated issue among parents today surrounds screen time and when kids should get access to certain electronics. On average, Americans say 14 is when kids should get a cell phone. While parents with adult-aged children say they should wait until 15 (14.8 on average), those with younger kids say they need them at age 13 (13.3 on average).
R rated Movies
Moving onto the big screen, kids are ready to see an R rated movie at 16.5. Older Americans, however, think this age should be higher. Those over 45 say kids should be 17 (45-54: 16.8; 55-64: 17.0), with those 65 and older saying 18 (17.9 on average) is more appropriate.
While Americans may say kids are ready to get behind the wheel at age 16 (15.9 on average), they’re not ready for the responsibility of their own wheels until nearly age 18 (17.6 on average). Those 65 and older state an age significantly higher than their younger counterparts.
Get a Job
And just who is paying for all of these first time activities? Parents are likely footing the bill until at least age 15, when Americans agree a child is ready for their first job (15.5 on average). Until then, many kids may be able to rake in the dough from their weekly allowance, which Americans say should start at age 10 (9.8 on average).
Ms. Jensen is a leading advocate for families and children and was the founder and president of ACES, The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support.
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