When we find ourselves surprised by the maturity of teenagers, we should remember that we have been choosing to expect immaturity of them. Teenagers didn’t even exist as a distinct cultural entity until about the mid-20th century. Before then, adult roles and responsibilities were given to young people around the same time we let them sign up for Instagram today. But for 70 years or so now, American society has cordoned adolescents off from adult society in schools and activities restricted mostly to their peers, where it looks like they have a great deal of autonomy, but where their main responsibility is to get into college.
They are more mature than we give them credit for, but that credit-giving is a choice we keep making.