iGen (1995 – 2012) – Five things you should know



teenagers on phones


Born between 1995 and 2012 the iGen (as labelled by San Diego professor Jean Twenge) constantly get ridiculed by their elders. We are told that we spend so much time on our devices that we have forgotten how to live.

Twenge explores the topic in her book “Why Today's Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood – and What That Means for the Rest of Us”. The title is short and snappy, isn’t it?

While there are plenty of reviews readily available on the internet (they aren’t great but if you feel like a laugh, head down to the Useful Links heading and have a read), I thought I would give you the breakdown. 


Our devices make us depressed

depressed teenager


Twenge tells us that because recorded cases of mental health issues have drastically increased in the years since phones, laptops and tablets have been made widely available, they must be the cause. We are also then told that because iGen have always had access to this technology we are more likely to experience mental health issues. There is a correlation here but causation has not been proved. 

Yes, sometimes screen time does not help when you are experiencing mental health issues and you can feel self-conscious if you see perfect bodies and faces constantly.

But, the internet can be used as an asset in the battle against mental health. With apps like ‘What’s Up’ and ‘Mood Kit’ everyone has access to certain therapy techniques at the touch of a button. These methods would not have been available for generations before iGen. They would have had to seek help from a professional.


moodkit app


If you type “body positive” into a search engine right now you will see people of all sizes, shapes and colours. You will see stretch marks, cellulite and a million different conditions and disorders and the people who rock them. These campaigns, these images and the positivity that is being spread would not otherwise be available to us. 

Could there be another possibility for the increase in recorded mental health issues? Could it be that people have been given more information and are finally feeling confident enough to ask for help?

In fact, in 2016 the suicide rates had dropped by more than it had in two decades. Maybe admitting there is a problem has resulted in more people being treated.

The idea that devices make iGen unhappy was a huge part of Twenge’s reasoning, this book was obviously built on shaky foundations.


We are physically safer

antisocial family



Twenge and I do agree on one thing though. She says that iGen children are spending more time on devices and less time with friends or doing those things that teenagers usually do.

However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. House parties and getting drunk are among some of the teenage rites of passage we can mention and they aren’t particularly safe for those that do partake. I can remember the kids at school going to parties, getting their stomachs pumped because of alcohol poisoning and getting grounded.

It is certainly safer for them to spend time at home under the watchful eye of a parent. If devices encourage that then they can’t really be a bad thing, can they?


We have less sex

feet in bed

Twenge claims that because the iGen stay in more, spend more time at home and seem to grow up later that we have sex later too. I’m not sure she’s familiar with Tinder.

According to Twenge it is responsible for the fall in teen pregnancy rates. It is true the Birth rates for women under 20 in the UK have been dropping since 1999 with the biggest fall taking place in 2010 (when those born in 1995 were turning 15 years old). 

We could put this down to several factors though, sex education, better access to birth control and other social factors play a part. A fall in teen pregnancy rates isn’t really a bad thing though, is it?


Hard Workers

working


iGen are reportedly harder workers than their predecessors. In another study conducted by Twenge she says that “55% of high school seniors in 2016 said they were willing to work overtime to do a good job—up from 44% of millennial teens in 2004”. 

What can I say? We are hard workers!

She does go on to say we are “less independent” and need “careful instruction”. She also says we need our managers to be “therapists, life coaches and parents” to us. 
You win some and you lose some, I guess.


We are less confident and less optimistic


sleeping teenager

I’m not sure I can comment on this one. I think as a generation we do just fine. 
Of course, this is a matter of opinion (much like most of Twenge’s book according to some reviews).

So, my fellow iGen’ers; go out, be confident, be happy and swipe right to your heart’s content!


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