The Four Most Recent Generations
I have started to write my first draft of my research paper on generations and I finally was able to summarize the characteristics, and personalities of the four most recent generations in American History. The are the (Baby) Boomer (1943-1960), Thirteenth or X (1961-1981), Millennial or Y (1982-1994), and Z (1995-2012). The dates are the when the generations were born.
The (Baby) Boomer generation consisted of pampered children, with parents living by the philosophy, “He’ll clean up his room when he’s ready to have a clean room” (Strauss & Howe 308). They were confident children who believed any problem could be fixed by their parents, but grew up to be boisterous college students protesting everything very radically. They were often skeptical of authority and thus challenged it. They wanted their ideas to be heard and were fixated on the idea of self. They adopted the philosophy buy now, pay later, but worked hard pursing the “American Dream”
Generation X grew up as a nuisance to their parents. They were the most aborted generation up to that point, and had to deal with the most divorces of parents (Strauss & Howe). Many parents focused on considering themselves before their children and were therefore sent to day care with a rushed childhood. Parents did little for them but also expected little from them. Their name “Xers” comes from “slackers” because they gained a reputation for not going above and beyond duties. They are also a very skeptical generation, coming from events like the Watergate scandal, causing them to question authority. However, as adults they did what they needed to do to have a job, and were very successful in that aspect. They began to be called, “the largest and richest generation ever” (Gillon).
The Millennial generation was once characterized as being born between 1982 and 2003 to be consistent with the general length of a generation. However with the exponential growth of technology and fast paced change in societal fads, modern sociologist have changed the end of the generation period from 2003 to about 1994, making it the shortest generation yet of only 12 years. With the Millennial generation came the signs “Babies on Board.” Child safety became a hot topic, children were seen as special, and abortion and divorce rates slowed. As children, the Millennials have not been pampered like the Boomers by Parents doing stuff for them, but have been “helicopter parents” by watching to ensure they are on the right path (“Millennial”). “The Millennials tend to be upbeat, positive, and happy. But they are realists as well. They know that not all is well with the world. The Boomer Generation knew that and protested it. The Gen X Generation knew that and was depressed about it. And the Millennials know that, but they believe they can have a role in changing it” (Rainer & Rainer 18). With this optimism, Millennials are very open-minded towards other people, with a new sense of diversity and inclusion.
The final generation is generation z. This is the current generation so how this generation starts to view and interact with the world as adults has yet to come. But in youth this generation has been, and is continuing to be, born in a world of pure technology. The Millennials were born when personal technology started to take root, but Generation Z will grow up in a world where everyone has a smartphone, and they will not know a world without computers. Even schools are adopting technology to create a more personalized instruction that engages the students. Angela Cross-Bystrom writes, “Generation Z-ers will mobilize around causes that they care about, and they look to be even more socially and environmentally aware and concerned than Generation Y. It is also very likely that because they are so naturally tech savvy, they will do things bigger, better, and at a younger age than previous generations” (Cross-Bystrom).
Strauss, William, and Neil Howe. Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069. New York: Morrow, 1991. Print.
Gillon, Steven M. Boomer Nation: The Largest and Richest Generation Ever and How It Changed America. New York: Free, 2004. Print.
"Millennial Generation." The Fourth Turning. Web. 9 Feb. 2012.
Rainer, Thom S., and Jess W. Rainer. The Millennials: Connecting to America's Largest Generation. Nashville, Tenn: B&H Pub. Group, 2011. Print.
Cross-Bystrom, Angela. "What You Need to Know About Generation Z."iMediaConnection. 20 Aug. 2010. Web. 17 Feb. 2012.