The generation following Gen X is called ‘The Millennials”.
The Millennials (1982-2002/3) are the largest generation ever (bigger than the boomers by 1M in the US), is civic minded like the GI generation and are collectively optimistic, long term planners, high achievers with the lowest levels of violent crime, teen pregnancy, smoking and alcohol use than ever before.
This generation has the belief that they have the potential to be great and if you don’t believe it, just ask their parents.
Their parents were a mix of Boomers (who had them later because they were too busy focusing on their ‘causes’) or Gen Xers. This means two generations of parents who rebelled against the oarenting practices of their parents. The made a conscious decision not to say “because I told you so” or “because I am the parent and you are the child”. They explained things to their children (actions, consequences, options), they wanted them to make informed decisions.
The last point was fascinating to me. Where I think of my upbringing in the form of black and white, corporal punishment (Want a spanking?) and a strict enforcement of hierarchy (Kids speak when spoken to, respect your elders). My children have never been spanked because we enforce discipline through strict cause and effect (You do that, there is a consequence) and actively encourage them to question (Including, respectfully, authority. After all, change never happens without people questioning).
The last point, while the Millennial parents were strict disciplinarians, they also became friends with their parents.
The instructor went on to provide some very interesting examples for us (The age range from 35-45, mostly Gen X and a few Boomers) which characterized the environment that the Millennial’s are growing up in:
· Gen Xers grew up with Sesame Street, where they learned numbers and the alphabet. Millennials grew up with Barney, everything was love, happiness, hugging.
· Gen Xers grew up with sports where everyone kept score. The lecturer asked, how many of you have kids in soccer – do they keep score? No was the answer (Up to 6), as the Gen Xers are rebelling against the ‘teach those hard lessons’ upbringing, sheltering the Millennials and harbouring the ‘everyone is great’ attitude.
The results, Millennials are:
· SPECIAL: Just ask their ‘baby on board’, mini van driving parents (As the lecturer said, the mini van is the first vehicle that was built with the children – not the parents in mind, appealing to the Gen X. After all, our parents let us ride in the back window of the car)
· SHELTERED: Thanks to the most sweeping youth safety movement in history. Of interest, the lecturer discussed how Gen Xers ran outside, played until dark where Millennials are completely different. Their safety focused parents know everything that is going on, hence the inception of the ‘play date’.
· CONFIDENT: Highly trusting, optimistic and confident in their generations power and potential. They showed one video of a 19 year old who said commented that of course their generation will do better. Look at these executives making 100K a year and they can barely do a fax and a phone call at the same time. I can IM, watch a movie, play XBOX, play Party Poker while talking at the same time.
· TEAM ORIENTATED: Barney and school teachers taught them to be team players and bond with their peers. They also don’t have a few friends, they travel in packs. Where a Gen X will have a few close friends, the Millennial will have tons of friends. The lecturer pointed out that this could lead to the end of the ‘date’. Instead, they go out together as a group which could result in later marriages. The lecturer also pointed out that this strong group bonding also could lead to a conformist attitude (i.e. Group think)
· ACHIEVING: Thanks to school reform and harder school curriculum, they will be the best educated and behaved adults in history. School is way harder than it use to be (I agree, I never had as much homework as my children have today. I also did not have the same level of information at my finger tips).
· PRESSURED: Pushed to study hard and be the trophy kid.
· CONVENTIONAL: More comfortable with their parent’s values than any generation.
One question that was asked was that if violence is at an all time low, why are we seeing Columbine like events? The lecturer provided an interesting theory. While violence is absolutely dropping, there is a strong group association. He discussed how Millennials are always communicating and in groups (IM, malls, cell phones, etc.) The danger is that for this can lead to Columbine like events. Because the generation has such a need for groups, when people are not part of the group, the rejection can lead to extreme behaviour like what we are witnessing. Interesting.
To compare and contrast attitudes:
|TV GenerationBoomers||PC Generation‘Gen X’||NET Generation“Millennials”|
|Web||What is it?||Web is a tool||Web is oxygen|
|Career||One Career||Multiple||Multiple reinventions|
|Authority||Hierarchy||Unimpressed||Self as expert|
|Outlook on Life||Optimistic||Skeptical||Realistic|
|Attitude toward Work||Driven||Balanced||Looking for meaning|
|View of Authority||Love/Hate||Unimpressed||Respectful|
|Relationship Approach||Self Sacrifice||Reluctant to Commit||Committed to success|
|Decision Making||Team Orientated||Self Reliant||Good for the group|
It was fascinating.