What’s up with those college kids?

Since pictures of college students not socially distancing are splashed all over the news these days, I thought I’d talk about why college students sometimes seem to have trouble following safety recommendations.

Young adults, aged 18-21 are technically still in “Late adolescence.” We think of them as adults since they may look fully grown (physically mature) and may be working/going to school, but their brain is still developing.
At this age, late adolescents are:

  • Developing more stable peer groups, thus are influenced by peers as much as family
  • Adopting a personal value system, thus developing their moral code and sense of justice
  • Developing abstract thinking skills, thus thinking about future possibilities, and considering possible outcomes
  • Defining a sense of personal identity, and may try a few different ones on for size before firming up their identity

This is just a small sample of what is going on, and if you remember that people mature at different rates, you may be able to imagine why these young adults don’t always do what is best for themselves or others.

Perhaps an answer is to designate peers as positive “social influencers” for the benefit of everyone.

Have a great week!
Melissa Boylan, MD, FAAFP