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The Tiger's Eye

The Tiger's Eye

Being 18 means less as time goes on

Colorful birthday cake with sprinkles and ten candles on a blue background with copyspace
Getty Images/iStockphoto
Colorful birthday cake with sprinkles and ten candles on a blue background with copyspace

Does turning 18 actually mean anything anymore?

When jumping that grand old hurdle of  18 years in this world, most teenagers are excited because that means they can vote and become a legal adult in the eyes of the government.

However, as the years have passed, privileges that went along with turning 18 started to become less appealing and eventually were moved up to 19 and 21.

Technically in Nebraska, when you turn 18, you still are not considered an ‘adult’. You must wait until you’re 19 years old. Don’t get me wrong, there are still things to look forward to with becoming 18. You can get a tattoo or that piercing you were really looking forward to without the permission of a parent or guardian.  But… does that mean anything, really? With the 21st century, I believe that getting tattoos and piercings are less difficult to get than they were before. I may be the outsider, but my mom is incredibly eager to sign off on getting me a tattoo or piercing. However, even if that’s an important barrier for someone, the right to get a tattoo is not equal to the downsides.

Being 18 really only comes with downsides, honestly, once you look past the right to vote. You can be drafted, you can be tried in court as an adult, and yet… you aren’t able to drink and smoke. Personally, I have no desire to drink, smoke, or even ‘enjoy’ my ‘privilege’ (very heavy air quotes here)  to go to court, but I feel like it’s a bit ridiculous to be able to be drafted and yet not be able to have the privilege to do what is considered ‘adult-like’ – whether that’s drinking, smoking, or something else only granted when you’re 21 years old.

The age limits for drinking and smoking are currently 21, and they’re set to protect minors, but doesn’t becoming 18 mean that you’re an adult? Aka, not a minor anymore? It’s hypocritical. If they (the government) wanted to allow 18 year olds to be adults, then they should have made the legal age for alcohol and all those other privileges be allowed at 18. If they cared so much about protecting 18 year olds, they should have made the legal adult age older, instead of dangling the carrot of being an adult in front of us, only to yank it away from us and put it even further down the line.

Now, those are only the legal effects of being 18. The social effects being 18 (aka a legal adult) can be bad – hello creepy guys and gals who want to prey on barely legal teens (if you think that’s silly to say, some celebrities had/have a counter for the days left until they’re 18) and hello to the abandoned teens who are kicked out of their homes on their 18th birthday ( 48% of homeless teens are classified as ‘throwaways’, aka kicked out, according to The National Runaway Switchboard).

If the freedom of being a kid is going to be taken away at the age of 18, at least give the right to be a full adult.


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