Boomers. Generation X. Millenials. You have likely read research and descriptions on each generation. While generational generalities cannot adequately or specifically describe individuals, generational names and descriptions endure because they are helpful in understanding the influences and the commonalities in a generation of people. Thus parents, ministry leaders, and educators are wise to pay attention to research and trends describing each generation.
While there is not yet an agreed upon official name for the generation after the millennials, and dates vary a bit among researchers, iGeneration is the name Jean Twenge assigns to those born in 1995 through 14-17 years post-1995 (the year the Internet was born to the world). So in 2018, those in iGeneration are 6 to 23 years old.
Maybe you have already heard them referred to as Generation Z, but iGeneration may be a better name because they are the first generation to be born into our constantly connected world where social media and screens are the norm. They are digital natives; meaning digital communication is not something they have had to learn. It has always surrounded them. I parent two daughters in iGeneration. They fill our elementary, middle school, and high school classrooms and are currently in our kids and student ministries in our churches.
What does research tell us about iGeneration? Jean Twenge’s book, iGen, is a very insightful and thoughtful read, based on extensive research over several years. Instead of simply regurgitating her outline, which is a very helpful framework, I am going to offer twelve observations about iGeneration in the next two blogs. All the research I cite comes from Jean’s book, and I will add some of my own thoughts as one who is watching this generation closely. Compared to other generations, iGen is characterized as:
1. Less reading
High school seniors in 2015 spent twice as much time online as high school seniors in 2006. High school seniors spent an average of six hours a day texting, gaming, or on the Internet. With all that time on a screen, iGeneration doesn’t read as much as other generations. In the late 1970s, the majority of teenagers spent time reading a book or magazine nearly everyday. In 2015, only 16 percent did. Sadly, technology has not supplemented reading; it has supplanted it. Instant communication and constant connectedness is making iGeneration impatient and bored with long and deep reading sessions, which cannot be good because of the deep learning and growth that reading produces.