Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The tethered generation

My husband Dennis is an HR guy, and gets all kinds of cool stuff in the mail. I especially enjoy reading HR Magazine because, in my own, home-based way, I'm an HR gal, too.

This month's issue has a very interesting article called The Tethered Generation. Since I didn't beat the dead TV horse enough, here's more info to keep your head spinning.

The article highlights the unique challenges employers face as the current generation (the "millenial" generation, born from 1978 to 1999) enters the workforce, since "they are the first generation to use e-mail, instant messaging (IM) and cell phones since childhood and adolescence." The Kaiser Family Foundation calls them "Generation M" for media!

Oh, that's right. Once they leave our homes, they have to get a JOB!

The good news - this generation is more techno-savvy, more adept at global and diversity issues, is team-oriented, and great at multitasking - is offset by the bad news: They lack discretion, independence, realistic expectations, patience, work ethic, and "soft skills" such as grammar, writing, and conflict resolution skills.

Since the brain is still developing well into the teens and early twenties, some researchers are concerned about how all this media is influencing brain development. Young people's brains are "still developing reasoning, planning and decision-making capabilities while they are depending heavily on technology—cell phones, IM and e-mail—as well as parents and friends at the other end of the technology. As a result, some experts believe millennials struggle to make decisions independently." Helicopter parents love this constant connection, but is it making a whole generation of kids indecisive?

And how about the way we work? I need almost complete silence to study, but that is obviously not the case with most young folks now.
According to a study by the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based staffing firm Spherion, 90 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds feel that listening to an iPod while working improves their job satisfaction and productivity. Susan Revillar Bramlett, an HR generalist for a defense research contractor, and a millennial herself, confirms this phenomenon. “The constant stimuli from video and computer games have caused millennials to be bored if there isn’t enough information coming in to keep our brains busy.”
Three of my children qualify as millenials. I'm not an employer, but man, the whole media thing has been perhaps THE biggest challenge for me to comprehend, let alone control as a parent. I want my kids to be tech savvy - technology has changed the face of the world of work forever. But can we teach them to use it without it controlling them? How can we teach this generation to "be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10) when there is constant noise around them?

I pray daily for wisdom!

And for your reading pleasure, here are some more facts from a Kaiser Family Foundation study of media use by 8 to 18 year olds (Click the link and be blown away by the full study - the reality of the "typical" teen).
Today's teens are more interactive and multitask more than any generation before them. Here's how and how often they are connected:
  • Most teens own cell phones (33 percent of kids ages 12 to 14; 57 percent of teens ages 15 to 17). Thirty-three percent report using a cell phone to send a text message.
  • Sixty-two percent of teenagers 12 to 18 years old multitask with other media, such as listening to an iPod or watching TV while using the computer.
  • Seventy-five percent of online teens use instant messaging, compared with 42 percent of online adults. According to The Pew/Internet & American Life Project Teens and Technology, "Teens who participated in focus groups ... said they view e-mail as something you use to talk to 'old people,' institutions or to send complex instructions to large groups." (I guess I'm an old person...)
  • Children ages 8 to 18 spend more time (6.5 hours per day) in front of computers, televisions, and game screens than any other activity in their lives except sleeping. (YIKES!)
  • Teens report use of the Internet for e-mail (89 percent), online games (81 percent), searching for current events (76 percent) and instant messaging (75 percent).
  • Eighty-seven percent of teenagers use the Internet.
  • More than 60 percent of teens would not post a resume on social networking web sites MySpace, Facebook or Friendster for employers to see. But 32 percent would remove content from these sites if they knew their employer could see it.
  • Teens are the greatest contributors to blogs, message boards and chat rooms about their companies.

Sources: Kaiser Family Foundation; National Institute on Media and the Family; Pew/Internet & American Life Project; Spherion.

And more resources:

National Institute on Media and the Family
Pew Internet and American Life Project


Sharon said...

I am blown away by the stat about how many hours are spent in front of tv, computer... What in the world is that interesting that it would take that many hours to supply that stat? I agree with you on the whole tv thing. We try to limit our daughter to no more than an hour of 'toons' a day and even that is hard. What happened to the whole concept of 'go outside and find a stick and build something' idea?

Kim said...

Very interesting!

More motivation for me to keep my children busy playing, being creative, and reading...


Jenn @ Knee-Deep in Munchkin Land said...

I just LOVE that you have so much research to back up your stances. =) I wish I were that dedicated... *Sigh* I wonder if God is trying to convict me here? Probably. Quite frankly, I can't wait to move into our house and do away with cable. I think we're going to see a HUGE difference in our quality time together.

Rachel Anne said...

Very sobering.

Sarah said...

yep, my mind is spinning! I'm so ready to cut back my and my kids time in front of screens, computers included, sigh, less time for blogging, but I guess that makes more time for connecting and living. Everything in moderation is a good rule of thumb. The teen years scare me quite frankly. I think I'll constantly be on my knees before the Lord!

Jen said...


Thank you so much for your sweet words on my blog. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I have enjoyed learning about your family too! At the beginning of last school year, we limited our kids to one year of "electric toys" a day. This includes computer, television, or gamecube. And because our 9th grader is having trouble staying focused on school right now--she has NO computer or television time during the week. GASP!! They whined quite a bit at first but, amazingly, they have ALL survived. :-)

Jen said...

Oh my! I just realized I wrote "one year a day". YIKES! That should be "one hour a day." I think I need to slow down a bit myself! :-)