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Kidult Culture - Why Should I Act My Age, Not My Shoe Size?

24/04/2015 16:29 BST | Updated 23/06/2015 10:59 BST

Sprawled on the floor, I felt so tranquil while colouring with my five year old nephew. The next minute I spotted him frolicking around the room, wearing my sneakers. In that moment, the irony of the situation dawned on me. It's the most adorable sight when kids emulate adults but are adults looked upon in the same way when they behave like over-grown kids?

Since when do we start judging people on the basis of: how they spend their free time, what gadgets they use and which books or movies they enjoy?

Being young is no more defined by age but by lifestyle choices. There is a growing trend for adults to indulge in activities that awaken their inner child while they look for a conscious escape from the responsibilities of their mundane life.

This phenomenon, known as kidult culture, describes people in their twenties and thirties who are yearning for comfort in products and sensory experiences that remind them of a happier and more innocent time, their childhood.

Beatriz Luna, professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, believes that people in their 20s are affected by adolescent hyper activity and don't become proper grown-ups until the age of 25.

Professor Luna said her research has shown that the pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain controlling adult-like reason and planning) is active in adolescents, but it is trumped by the hormone dopamine which triggers feelings of happiness when taking risks. Therefore, putting off responsibilities such as marriage, a career or parenthood, encourages the brain to stay in a state of adolescence.

Why Adults aspire to behave like Kids:

  • Acting like a child tends to soothe your nerves and enhances creativity. A mainstream example of this would be adult colouring-in books that are amongst Amazon's current top ten bestsellers. Besides being used as a form of mindfulness therapy, these books also encourage adults to make creative decisions about which colours to choose. According to psychologist, Gloria Martínez Ayala, "The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress."

    Since childhood nostalgia acts as an accelerant in calming your nerves, when London's first adult ball pool opened in Hammersmith, people were quite intrigued by the concept of letting off some steam in a giant play area filled with 81,000 white balls. The ball pit is also considered a great place to hold office meetings as it aids creative thinking.

  • Engaging in children's activities helps adults evade their fear of ageing. We live in an era in which it is practically normal when someone refuses to accept his own age. Each year, the most successful movies are cartoons or childish comedies and the same thing can be said regarding books. It is absolutely astonishing how many adults enjoy the likes of Batman, Iron man, Harry Potter and Twilight.

    There has also been a growth in the popularity of theme park vacations among adults. Since adults want to escape reality and gain satisfaction from symbols that represent their childhood, collectible toys, Lego sets and tech toys such as drones have become the rage. Kidults have no qualms about playing a game of candy crush, riding a skateboard or using an app that gamifies their life by turning daily chores into a role-playing game (where they earn experience points, gain levels and stay alive by getting things done).

The kidult views adulthood as a set of excessive responsibilities and an unavoidable journey towards old age. As he is on the lookout for immediate satisfaction, he turns to simple pleasures associated with his childhood. In short, youth, a biological condition, seems to have become a cultural definition. The question is: Why should there be an age restriction on having fun?