Parents: Relax

Teens are acting more responsibly. It may even be time to reward them with some of the rights adults have

Illustration for TIME by Ellen Weinstein

There's strong evidence that adolescents are getting smarter. Could the teen brain be evolving?

Probably since the second generation of humanity, it has been a widely accepted bit of folk wisdom that kids are worse off than their forebears. Our ancestors surely thought the kids just didn't rip the hides from big game with the same skill as Grandpa. Now we think teens are wastrels who get high on OxyContin and rouse themselves only to shoot up a school or update their MySpace profiles. But there's strong evidence that U.S. adolescents are actually getting smarter--or at least making better decisions. Could the teen brain be evolving?

Consider: teens are less violent and more sober than...

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