I have been saying for more years than I care to remember that this is a generation of wanting to be connected to everything, all the time, everywhere. This should be self-evident by the growth of social media platforms such as Facebook and Skype. This group has come to be known as Millennials. These are basically people who are between the age of 18 and 29. Apparently, if you are over 30 you have to be considered an “adult!”
If you are still not certain, then perhaps a report from Pew will convince you. The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan American think tank that is based out of Washington, D.C. It provides information on social issues, public opinion and demographic trends that are shaping not only the U.S. but the rest of the world as well. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research.
The feeling behind studies, such as this, is that generations are like people in the fact that they have their own distinct personalities. Pew defines Millennials as “the American teens and twenty-somethings who are making the passage into adulthood at the start of a new millennium.”
According to the latest research by Pew, Millennials are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults.
Millennials are less religious, less likely to have served in the military, and are on track to become the most educated generation in American history.
So what makes this generation so different other than the fact that we are in a new millennium? Several chapters in Pew’s report describe that this generation:
- Embraces multiple modes of self-expression
- 75 percent have created a profile on a social networking site
- One-in-five have posted a video of themselves online
- Nearly four-in-ten have a tattoo (and for most who do, one is not enough: about half of those with tattoos have two to five and 18% have six or more)
- Nearly one-in-four have a piercing in some place other than an earlobe
- 70 percent say their tattoos are hidden beneath clothing
As you might be able to deduce from the last item, their look-at-me tendencies do seem to have some limits. As a comparison, 75 percent regularly use social networking compared to only about 50 percent of Generation X, which are considered to be the 30-45 age group. If you watch almost any TV show these days, you will see Tweets and comments posted by views throughout the broadcast. In addition to being a generation of always connected everywhere, all the time, they have to constantly share their thoughts with everyone, everywhere, all of the time!
So, even though they have the ability to hide their tattoos, as well as their piercings, they still want everyone to know that they are out there. With at least three quarters of Millennials having a social media account of one type or another, along with the fact that they seem to need to comment about everything that they are doing through the social media world, there is no denying this.
Of all the generations that Pew’s research has looked at, Millennials have the highest percentage when it comes to the use of technology. While categories such as music, pop culture and clothing average out to about the same, they take a commanding lead in the area of technology.
Possibly it is the fact that they were born into an age that was more technologically advanced than their parents, or possibly they are simply more accepting. Whatever the case may be Millennials are surrounded in their daily life by mobile commerce options, social networking abilities and more mobility than any other generation has seen before.
To be fair, technology has improved greatly in the last decade. Smartphones and tablets have made it easy for Millennials to constantly be in touch and to have that feeling of being connected always, everywhere, with everyone. As wireless network technology also improves and carriers deploy faster LTE networks to more remote areas, it just becomes, not only another way of staying connected, but it is also a way for Millennials to do more with their mobile devices.
Currently, we are looking at 37 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds who are unemployed or out of the workforce. This is the highest share among this age group in more than three decades. However, despite the fact that they are struggling on the job front, about 90 percent have either said that they currently have enough money or that they will eventually meet their long-term financial goals.
The Pew report concludes that it is not just their gadgets that make them unique, but it is also how they use them—they have fused their social lives into them. About 83 percent of Millennials sleep with their smartphones.
Again, it is this feeling of constantly having to be connected all the time to everything that is going on around them. Millennials are also more likely than older adults to say technology makes life easier and brings family and friends closer together. Social media seems to have given them a built-in safety net. Perhaps it is easier to be a single parent because you are never really alone. You are just a phone call away from one of your friends who sleeps with their smartphone on the bed with them.
The full report goes into greater detail about each of the categories, as is evident by the number of pages. This Pew Research Center report profiles the roughly 50 million Millennials who currently span the ages of 18 to 29.
The Pew Research Center wants to make it clear that while generational analysis does have a long and distinguished place in social science among those scholars who believe it is not only possible, but often highly illuminating, to search for the unique and distinctive characteristics of any given age group of Americans it is not an exact science. Attitudes and opinions are constantly changing, as are values and behaviors. What is acceptable one year could have a much different meaning the next.
Edited by Maurice Nagle