This is When Americans Think Teens are Old Enough for Their First Job

Do you think kids today are growing up too quickly?

If you do, you’re not alone. A whopping 92% of American adults agree with you, according to a recent Harris Poll study.

Whether it’s watching racy movies, taking on financial responsibility or getting access to the world through unprecedented technology, Americans overwhelmingly think kids aren’t kids long enough anymore.

It may fly in the face of evidence showing adult millennials are living with their parents longer than any other generation. Maybe we’re growing up emotionally, but lagging behind financially?

In any case, The Harris Poll asked participants when they believe kids are old enough for the major milestones.

Here’s what they had to say.

How Old is Old Enough?

The survey included 2,463 adults and 510 13-17-year-olds in the U.S. These results are the average of what both adults and teens believe.

On average, kids and adults think we become grown-ups and should stop relying on our parents about age 18 or 19. Older adults over age 65 favor a later age of independence than their younger counterparts.

On average, Americans believe we should start giving kids an allowance at age 10, and kids are ready for their first job at 15 1/2.

Aside from money, Americans also believe:

  • Kids shouldn’t be left home alone until 13 1/2.
  • They’re ready for a one-on-one date at 16, but for their first kiss at 15.
  • The sex talk should come much earlier — age 12.
  • Kids are ready for a cell phone at 14. Older adults favor age 15, while younger adults say 13.
  • Kids are ready to drive at 16, but shouldn’t own a car until 18.

When Did You Hit These Milestones?

Personally, I got my first job at 16, around the same time as many of my peers in the early aughts (of the 21st century. ‘hem.) I also got my driver’s license and first car at the same age — my parents wanted me to drive myself to work.

My younger sister and I shared a cell phone when I was 16 or 17. Can you even imagine?

I don’t know any modern teenagers, and I’m grateful. So I don’t know what they’re up to these days. 

Maybe you can get me up to speed.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post,, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).p