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Families – together for longer

A new guidance has been implemented for psychologists to acknowledge people up to the age of 25 as an adolescent from now on according to a recent article by the BBC. After a study using neuroscience, evidence has been uncovered that the brain is still developing well into the early twenties.

Child psychologist, Laverne Antrobus, believes we often rush through childhood, wanting youngsters to achieve key milestones very quickly. She goes on to say that some adolescents may want to stay longer with their families because they need more support during these formative years and that it is important for parents to realise that all young people do not develop at the same pace.

Professor of sociology at the University of Kent, Frank Furedi, believes this infantilised culture has intensified a sense of “passive dependence”, and that evidence of this culture can be seen in our viewing preferences. He notes that an increasing number of adults are watching children’s movies in the cinema, and that in the States, 25% of children’s television audiences are adults. This evidence supports the notion of a prolonged childhood, and these findings should affect the ways in which we plan media to reach our target audiences – our approach must be more nuanced to reflect the grey areas between generations.

Sarah Beeny, TV property expert, says that adolescents do not have to move out of the parental house in order to learn how to be independent and there are huge advantages to multi-generational living  (grandparents, parents and children living in the same household). It’s just a matter of whether the parents still treat the younger generation as children whilst they continue to live under their roof, or as adults by giving them the responsibilities they would have if they were living by themselves.

This impacts significantly on how brands relate to members of these enlarged households: who pays the bills? Where does the household income come from? Which generation influences the other, and in what areas?

Phase one of our Future of Britain research develops many of the issues suggested in this article in the section we’ve named People Dynamics. It explains a new, somewhat chaotic, life model in comparison to the traditional stepping stones (i.e. get a degree, move out, get married etc.), such as the boomerang generation but particularly multi-generational households where not only consumption patterns are affected but more importantly who the new decision makers are.

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