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iGen: Understanding Today's Super-Connected Kids



iGen, the generation born between 1995 and 2012, is the first generation to grow up fully immersed in the digital age. They have never known a world without smartphones and the internet, and as a result, their social lives, mental health, and worldview have been profoundly impacted. In her book, "iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood," Jean Twenge explores the unique characteristics and experiences of iGen and their potential impact on the future.


Here are some of the key features of iGen:

  • They are the first generation to spend their entire adolescence in the age of the smartphone.

  • They are more connected to the internet and social media than any other generation before them.

  • They are more diverse and accepting of diversity in race, gender, and sexual orientation than previous generations.

  • They are taking longer to engage in traditional adult activities, such as getting a driver's license, moving out of their parents' homes, and getting married.

  • They have higher rates of depression, anxiety, and loneliness than previous generations.

In this article, we will explore some of the ways that technology has impacted iGen, their delayed adulthood, increased tolerance, decreased happiness, and unpreparedness for adulthood. We will also discuss how iGen's unique characteristics and experiences will shape the future workforce, economy, and social landscape.


Impact of Technology


The iGen generation has grown up with smartphones and the internet, which has profoundly impacted their social lives, mental health, and worldview. They spend more time on their phones and social media than any other generation, with an average of 7 hours per day on their phones. Social media has become a primary source of social interaction for iGen, with Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok being the most popular platforms.


While technology has provided iGen with access to information and resources that previous generations did not have, it has also had negative impacts on their mental health. Studies have shown that excessive use of social media is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. The constant need to be connected and the fear of missing out (FOMO) has also led to increased stress and decreased sleep.



Delayed Adulthood


iGen is taking longer to engage in adult activities, such as getting a driver's license, moving out of their parents' homes, and getting married. According to Twenge, iGen is experiencing a "slow life strategy," which is a cautious approach to life that involves delaying adulthood until one feels financially and emotionally ready. This is in contrast to the "fast life strategy" of previous generations, which involved engaging in adult activities at a younger age.


One reason for this delayed adulthood is the high cost of living and education. iGen is facing higher levels of student debt and a more competitive job market than previous generations, making it harder for them to achieve financial stability. Additionally, many iGen individuals are choosing to delay marriage and parenthood in order to focus on their careers.


Less Rebellious


iGen is less likely to engage in risky behaviors and is generally more cautious compared to previous generations. They are less likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or engage in sexual activity than previous generations at the same age. According to Twenge, iGen is experiencing a "safetyism" trend, which involves prioritizing safety and avoiding risks.


This trend towards safetyism is partly due to the increased access to information and awareness of the risks associated with certain behaviors. iGen is also more connected to their parents than previous generations, with many parents being actively involved in their children's lives well into adulthood. This closeness to their parents has led to a more cautious and risk-averse mindset.


Increased Tolerance


iGen is more accepting of diversity in race, gender, and sexual orientation, contributing to a more inclusive society. They have grown up in a world where diversity and inclusion are increasingly valued, and they have been exposed to a wider range of cultures and lifestyles than previous generations.


This increased tolerance is partly due to the internet and social media, which has made it easier for iGen to connect with people from different backgrounds and learn about different perspectives. It is also a result of changing attitudes in society towards diversity and inclusion.


Decreased Happiness


Despite their increased tolerance, iGen has higher rates of depression, anxiety, and loneliness, partly due to their reliance on technology and social media. The constant pressure to present a perfect image on social media and the fear of missing out (FOMO) can lead to increased stress and decreased self-esteem.

Additionally, iGen has been exposed to a more uncertain world than previous generations, with events such as 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic shaping their worldview. This uncertainty can lead to feelings of anxiety and helplessness.



Unprepared for Adulthood


iGen's delay in reaching traditional milestones and their reliance on technology have left them unprepared for the challenges and responsibilities of adulthood. According to Twenge, iGen is experiencing a "failure to launch" trend, which involves young adults struggling to make the transition to independent adulthood.

This trend is partly due to the delay in engaging in traditional adult activities, such as getting a driver's license, moving out of their parents' homes, and getting married. Additionally, the reliance on technology has led to a lack of face-to-face communication and problem-solving skills, which are essential for success in the workplace and in personal relationships.


Impact on the Rest of Society


iGen's unique characteristics and experiences will shape the future workforce, economy, and social landscape. As the largest generation in history, iGen will have a significant impact on the future of society.

One potential impact is on the workforce. iGen's reliance on technology and their diverse skillset may lead to a more flexible and adaptable workforce. Additionally, their emphasis on work-life balance may lead to changes in the traditional 9-5 workday.


Another potential impact is on the economy. iGen's delay in engaging in traditional adult activities may lead to a delay in major life purchases, such as houses and cars. This could have a ripple effect on the housing and auto industries.


Finally, iGen's increased tolerance and focus on social justice may lead to changes in the political and social landscape. They are more likely to support policies and movements that promote diversity and inclusion, which could lead to a more equal and just society.


Conclusion


The iGen generation has grown up in a world that is vastly different from that of previous generations, with technology and social media playing a significant role in their lives. While they are more tolerant and cautious than previous generations, they also face higher rates of depression, anxiety, and loneliness and are delaying traditional milestones of adulthood.


It is essential for society to recognize and address the challenges faced by iGen, including providing the necessary education and resources to prepare them for adulthood. As they continue to shape the future of society, it is important to embrace their unique characteristics and experiences to create a more inclusive and just world.


 

FAQs


1. What is iGen?

iGen, also known as Generation Z, is the generation born between 1995 and 2012. They are the first generation to grow up fully immersed in the digital age.


2. What are some of the unique characteristics of iGen?

iGen is more connected to the internet and social media than any other generation before them. They are more diverse and accepting of diversity in race, gender, and sexual orientation than previous generations. They are also taking longer to engage in traditional adult activities.


3. How has technology impacted iGen?

Technology has provided iGen with access to information and resources that previous generations did not have. However, excessive use of technology and social media has been associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and loneliness.


4. Why is iGen taking longer to engage in traditional adult activities?

iGen is facing higher levels of student debt and a more competitive job market than previous generations. Additionally, many are delaying major life purchases due to financial uncertainty and a desire for flexibility and independence.


5. How can society prepare iGen for adulthood?

Society can prepare iGen for adulthood by providing education and resources that teach important life skills, such as financial management, problem-solving, and face-to-face communication. Additionally, there should be a focus on mental health and well-being to help address the high rates of depression, anxiety, and loneliness.


6. What is the future of iGen?

As the largest generation in history, iGen will continue to shape the future of society. They are poised to have a significant impact on the workforce, economy, and social landscape, with their unique characteristics and experiences influencing the direction of these areas.


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