OCALA, Fla., July 15, 2014 — Just what sort of future does America have? That all depends on the people living in it.
At the forefront of social change, and experiencing the first traces of what will one day become our economic mainstream, is Generation Y. According to BusinessDictionary.com, this is “(t)he generation of people born during the 1980s and early 1990s. The name is based on Generation X, the generation that preceded them.
“Members of Generation Y are often referred to as ‘echo boomers’ because they are the children of parents born during the baby boom (the ‘baby boomers’). Because children born during this time period have had constant access to technology (computers, cell phones) in their youth, they have required many employers to update their hiring strategy in order to incorporate updated forms of technology.”
Much has been said about Generation Y and its distinctive brand of societal pathologies.
From the rise of technology to the decline of conversation skills, America’s youth, generally speaking, live by anything other than the norms and standards of their elders. The reasons for this are extensive — one could point to the self-esteem movement just as easily as the Information Age.
Regardless of the root cause for Generation Y’s unfortunate traits, dealing with these can be very difficult. Dr. Tim Elmore has made it his mission to teach younger people about developing leadership skills. He is the founder and president of Growing Leaders, a nonprofit group, as well as a bestselling author who dubbed Generation Y as “Generation iY”.
“(F)or all its positives, in some ways, technology has had many negative impacts on Generation Y,” Dr. Elmore told me in 2012. “This is the first generation of kids who, because of technology, don’t need adults for information. The result is a generation of kids who know too much, too soon, with no context to process the information. They aren’t bad kids. They simply know too much. They have content without context.
“Because of the overexposure, inability to filter, and lack of empathy, they are more comfortable in engaging in activities they aren’t emotionally ready for. They are bullying or being bullied, becoming depressed and in worst cases, committing suicide at alarming rates.”
The danger of becoming self-absorbed is present for all of us. Yet, many say that Generation iY is more narcissistic than its predecessors ever were.
“Generation Y is a paradox,” Dr. Elmore said. “And one of their most distinctive traits is that they are self-absorbed, while at the same time typically very generous. More so than their predecessors, students today are more likely to be narcissistic and not even know it.
“They spend more time getting ready in the morning than Generation X and the Baby Boomers, and they spend more money on themselves as well, even when you factor in inflation. However, these students give their time and money away to community and charity at a much faster pace as well. In fact, you might say they see money as ‘easy come, easy go.’ They love giving and helping others — once their needs are met.”
By and large, has the self-esteem movement has proven to be beneficial for Generation iY?
“As a whole, no, it has not been beneficial,” Dr. Elmore remarked. “This generation of kids has a false sense of confidence that is sure to be shattered as soon as they enter adulthood. We are already seeing it from some of the older members of Generation Y.
“By giving kids trophies for participation or A’s when they deserve C’s, we are setting them up for failure in the long run. Parents and teachers must become velvet-covered bricks —soft, loving and encouraging on the outside, but tough and steadfast to standards on the inside. Of course, kids need to understand they are loved, important and special, but they also need to learn, through experience, that failure is a part of life and signifies growth.”
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