Today, I heard the editor of college newspaper describe her generation (Gen-Y) as the A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder) Generation.
Funny, I recently participated in a conversation concerning this same subject.
Do you think it so, are they?
Hmm, let's think about this.
Almost all Gen-Y'ers have grown up in homes filled with multiple television sets (often bigger and bigger as technology changed), cable TV with hundreds of stations, VCR's that quickly morphed into DVD players, computers with internet access (thus instant messengering, and the abbreviated communication that goes along with that), video game systems that also keep getting bigger and better. I know very few Gen-Y'ers, in fact I know none, that do not have their own personal mobile cell phones, and most have their very own personal televisions/DVD players, stereos, MP3 players, computers, and game systems. All of which are also quite passive forms of entertainment.
This is also the generation that has no clue McDonald's and Taco Bell didn't always exist, fast food at it fastest.
Then think of the birthday celebrations for many Gen-Y'ers, again they are being entertained, not entertaining themselves, at the parties offered by Mc'Donald's, Chucky Cheese, or the parent's hired entertainment.
The ADD Generation? Hmm...they do bore easily...many expect to be entertained, and all of the entertainment must move quickly to keep their attention. Why?
Is it us, (their parents), our wishing them to have all that we did not, our spend, spend, spend, and bigger is better consumerism, our McMansion "keep up with the Jones's" mentalities?
It could be...
That this is also the generation who's Nanny was the television (many consider this a valid theory). Remember, the average attention span for a child is 3-5 minutes per year of age. Thus, to keep a young child's interest, things have to move quickly, or they will lose interest and go looking for Mommy or Daddy to keep them entertained.
Each succeeding generation, since WWII, has experienced a lengthier childhood. Meaning, most are not expected to do more than go to school and play until they are through with college. Oh, they may get a part-time job, but if it interferes with their grades, the job is the first thing to go. These youngsters also live at home longer, or start out living on their own, but end up moving back to their parent's homes over and over again. Or, they have their own place, but guess who is paying the rent? Mom and Dad.
I look at my own son, he moved out on his own at the age of 19, within three months his father had purchased a mobile home and placed it on our summer property, then offered it to Mr. Son--expense free. (He didn't have to take his Dad up on the offer, but he did.) Mr. Son lived here, with the occasional roommate, for two years, before good ol' Mom decided it was the perfect place to live, and even then...I asked him...if my moving in was alright with him. There are times when I have a hard time believing I did that (part of it was out of respect, it was his home after all), But, still...he was living rent/utility free, doing nothing to earn that privilege, on property I owned, and yet, I asked if it was OK for me to live here!
In my line of work, I end up meeting the poorest of the poor, and I am often very surprised at their sense of entitlement. When I take a hard look at how many of us Boomer's and early Gen-X'ers have raised our children...I know exactly where some of it comes from.
Don't get me wrong, I love my children and most of their friends, they have many redeeming qualities, who they each are makes me proud to know them...most of the time...but I also recognize that there are some aspects of their lives that need some work...and maybe...some of that is due to their parent's mistakes in giving and giving, and giving them the things they wanted (not just needed)...without expecting it to be earned.
I am also not stereotyping an entire generation, I know many Gen-Y young people, some are over-achievers, some are under-achievers, most fit somewhere in between. All have many wonderful aspects about their characters.
I suppose I am attempting to define something that is perhaps undefinable.
Each generation changes as society changes, and in the past 100 years, our society has experienced change faster than any other time in human history...maybe...it is the faster pace.
Maybe the ADD Generation will be able to keep up better, with less stress, than we, their parents, have.
Or, we have created a generation with very low expectations of themselves.