Another offshoot of the fraught economic situation? A new generation of Peter Pan-esque children who just don't want to grow up, according to a brand-new Nickelodeon study. Yup, more kids than ever are reporting a stubborn desire to stay forever young.
We don't blame them: we'd quite like to spend all day binge-watching One Direction videos on YouTube as well.
Here's what experts think is behind the shift:
They've got better parents.
Heart-pumping anxiety about kids' futures has translated into better parenting, as it turns out. Pew analyzed surveys dating back a half-century, and found that parents are spending more time than ever with their kids. Hoping to push their offspring into beating the economic odds, parents have become their childrens' cheerleaders, coaches, tutors, and chaffeurs.
And the Bank of Mom And Dad has actually benefited from the struggling economy. In Alanis Morrisette-style irony, even though families today have less money, they're splashing out more on their offspring. They're also invested more in their kids' academic lives, pushing past teachers to volunteer at school meetings and events.
They have screens.
Drum roll: now they have technology. Sure, it means less time in the treehouse, but who needs the great outdoors when there's an app for that?
Essentially, parents have thrown up their hands and relinquished control, and are less strict than they've been in decades. With household tasks, for example, researchers have noticed that parents are preferring a "let's compromise" model over "do what I say, not as I do."
Kids see what their parents are enduring financially.
Being forever young has its perks: you live rent-free, and all your meals are (hopefully) cooked and paid for.
But with three-quarters of American adults claiming they've been impacted by the financial crisis, the same can't be said for their parents. A fifth of families have seen their collaborative income slashed, and a recent study showed a quarter of all working moms wished they didn't have to.
Kids see parents slumped over the computers, struggling to pay their bills and working extra hours, and presumably think: NO THANX.
So, will these kids suck when they finally do grow up?
What can we expect from the next generation, aside from being able to touch-type since they were in utero? Well, look at us: Pew found that adults today are closer to their parents, talk to them more frankly, and even enjoy a "mostly positive" relationship with them if they have to move back home. (Mostly.)
That said, we don't really know what the consequences of such devoted parenting will be — but there are concerns. There's been a barrage of criticism that children today are sheltered and unprepared to fend for themselves, that parents don't enjoy the freedom and independence they used to, and that their kids are going to become, well, little brats.
Think about it. In 20 years, we might have more of this on our hands: