Science Says You're Not A Real Adult Until Your 30s

If you're in your 20s and are still struggling to 'adult' -- don't stress, because science has your back.

Legally, Australians are deemed mature adults at the age of 18.

By that age, we're allowed to vote in elections, buy alcohol and tobacco, get a tattoo, marry or even get a mortgage -- but despite all of that, we don't actually grow up properly until our 30s.

When we come of age, the brain is still going through massive changes which can affect behaviour and make us more susceptible to mental health disorders, according to new research -- shared by experts at a neuroscience conference at Oxford University.

These changes to the brain continue for decades but finally settle down around the time we hit the big three-zero.

Scientists involved in this new and on-going study said it could have massive implications for society.

"I guess systems like the education system, the health system and the legal system make it convenient for themselves by having definitions," Professor Peter Jones, from Cambridge University said ahead of a meeting hosted by The Academy of Medical Sciences.

But he added that "to have a definition of when you move from childhood to adulthood looks increasingly absurd. It's a much more nuanced transition".

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It's important to note that the path to adulthood is different for each person, with some taking longer than others to make the transition.

"There isn't a childhood and then an adulthood. People are on a pathway, they're on a trajectory," Professor Jones said.

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Professor Daniel Geschwind, from the University of California, suggested education systems around the world could see a shakeup in the wake of the research because many currently focus on groups instead of individuals, despite each brain growing at its own pace.

The issue is being discussed further during a scientific meeting in Oxford on Wednesday.