Screentime Defined Millennials and Could Change Their Kids
As someone who researches generational differences, I find one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is “What generation am I in?”
If you were born before 1980, that’s a relatively easy question to answer: the Silent Generation was born between 1925 and 1945; baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964; Gen X followed (born between 1965 and 1979).
Next come millennials, born after 1980. But where do millennials end, and when does the next generation begin? Until recently, I (and many others) thought the last millennial birth year would be 1999 – today’s 18-year-olds.
However, that changed a few years ago, when I started to notice big shifts in teens’ behavior and attitudes in the yearly surveys of 11 million young people that I analyze for my research. Around 2010, teens started to spend their time much differently from the generations that preceded them. Then, around 2012, sudden shifts in their psychological well-being began to appear. Together, these changes pointed to a generational cutoff around 1995, which meant that the kids of this new, post-millennial generation were already in college.
These teens and young adults all have one thing in common: Their childhood or adolescence coincided with the rise of the smartphone.
What makes iGen different
Some call this generation “Generation Z,” but if millennials aren’t called “Generation Y,” “Generation Z” doesn’t work. Neil Howe, who coined the term “millennials” along with his collaborator William Strauss, has suggested the next generation be called the “Homeland Generation,” but I doubt anyone will want to be named after a government agency.
A 2015 survey found that two out of three U.S. teens owned an iPhone. For this reason, I call them iGen, and as I explain in my new book “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood,” they’re the first generation to spend their adolescence with a smartphone.
What makes iGen different? Growing up with a smartphone has affected nearly every aspect of their lives. They spend so much time on the internet, texting friends and on social media – in the large surveys I analyzed for the book, an average of about…