Question: It seems that kids these days ‘mature’ earlier. Is this due to human lifespan being on the general decline, according to the Buddhist teachings, in this Dharma-Ending Age? Is it such that ‘learning’ is naturally sped up due to this?
Answer: Exactly due to the Dharma-Ending Age, average physical lifespan’s decrease is proportional to wisdom life’s decrease (in spirituality). Do not mistake earlier knowledgeability due to the easy access to the Internet and such with actual growth in wisdom.
Knowledgeability is just an aspect of intelligence – which is not the same as wisdom – which is knowing HOW to use knowledge appropriately to benefit one and all. So, it can be said that kids are not so much of maturing faster spiritually; just gaining worldly information more easily. If not sufficiently guided by wisdom, things can go haywire.
The essence of what learnt must be for the better; not worse, or there is harm and no value in that learnt at all. Becoming street-smart (or even cunning) only for worldly advantage at a young age without growth in wisdom is neither true spiritual learning nor spiritual maturity.
(Note: There were more with long lives closer to the Buddha’s time, even if they were not of the general population. Longer physical lives does not equate to longer or richer spiritual lives, the latter of which is the main concern. Having merely longer physical lives without spiritual lives is pointless, and even possibly dangerous, with more time and potential to do harm. Having a longer physical life can be with more long-drawn physical suffering too.)