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iGen: 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 Hardcover – August 22, 2017
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Named one of the "Best Tech Books of 2017" by Wired Magazine
“We’ve all been desperate to learn what heavy use of social media does to adolescents. Now, thanks to Twenge’s careful analysis, we know: It is making them lonely, anxious, and fragile—especially our girls. If you are a parent, teacher, or employer, you must read this fascinating book to understand how different iGen is from the millennials you were just beginning to figure out.” (Jonathan Haidt, NYU-Stern School of Business, author of The Righteous Mind)
“Jean Twenge collates the data on a generation and not only surprises readers with astonishing discoveries, but also helps us to make sense of what to do with those discoveries. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding students.” (Dr. Tim Elmore, author of Marching Off the Map, President of GrowingLeaders.com)
“The reigning expert on generational change weighs in on the iGen, making a case for dramatic changes in just the last five years. Few accounts have seemed more sensational, and few have seemed more true.” (Lisa Wade, PhD, author of American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus)
"This book is a game-changer. If you want to understand how to parent, teach, recruit, employ, market to, or win the vote of anyone born between 1995-2012, you need to read this book. iGen will change the way you think about the next generation of Americans." (Julianna Miner, Professor of Public Health, George Mason University)
"Dr. Twenge brings to light, with longitudinal scientific data and personal interviews, a generation that is truly unique. An easy and scientifically informative read.” (Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus and author of 7 books on the impact of technology including The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World (with Adam Gazzaley, MD, Ph.D., MIT Press, 2016))
“Stocked with valuable insights, iGen is a game changer and this decade’s ‘must read’ for parents, educators and leaders. Her findings are riveting, her points are compelling, her solutions are invaluable.” (Michele Borba, Ed.D., Educational Psychologist and author of UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World)
“Jean Twenge is the ultimate authority in generational differences who has been at the forefront of many trends. Her latest book iGen charts the surprising new normal of the current generation. It's a must read for anyone who is interested in young people and technology, filled with fascinating data that shines a light on many unique aspects of youth today.” (Yalda T Uhls, author of Media Moms and Digital Dads: A Fact-Not-Fear Approach to Parenting in the Digital Age)
“We all have impressions about the newest crop of teens and emerging adults, but what really is going on? Jean Twenge is the expert in the use of normative data, collected in systematic surveys over the years, to understand how the experiences, attitudes, and psychological characteristics of young people have changed over generations. Rigorous statistical analyses, combined with insightful interviews and excellent writing, create here a trustworthy, intriguing story.” (Peter Gray, Research Professor of Psychology at Boston College and author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life.)
“iGen is a monumental scientific study, and it reveals astonishing conclusions about today’s emerging adults. If you’re interested in unpacking the habits and the psyche of America’s future, start with this book!" (Eli J. Finkel, author of The All-Or-Nothing Marriage)
About the Author
Jean M. Twenge, PhD, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, is the author of more than a hundred scientific publications and two books based on her research, Generation Me and The Narcissism Epidemic, as well as The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant. Her research has been covered in Time, The Atlantic, Newsweek, The New York Times, USA TODAY, and The Washington Post. She has also been featured on the Today show, Good Morning America, Fox and Friends, CBS This Morning, and National Public Radio. She lives in San Diego with her husband and three daughters.
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As a sexagenarian father of two daughters, aged 14 and 16, I desperately needed and wanted to read this book. And I wasn’t disappointed. It is well written and provides a wealth of information and insight. Much of it, I found, reinforced my own observations of my daughters. In some cases, that allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief. At the very least, their habits that are the most different from my own at their age are not unique to them.
Twenge is careful up front to articulate the limitations of this type of statistical analysis. “Because the survey samples are nationally representative, they represent American young people as whole, not just an isolated group.” That larger group, the iGen’ers, are defined as those born from 1995 to 2012, a group of 74 million Americans that currently account for 24% of the population.
One of the things I normally find limiting in this kind of big data statistical analysis is that it chronicles attributes. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, a behavior is worth ten thousand pictures, and Professor Twenge clearly appreciates that. She doesn’t just present the data, she probes it.
A few random thoughts occurred to me as I read it.
I came of age at the height of the Vietnam War. When I was required to register with Selective Service, the draft was still in place and college deferments, for good reason, had been eliminated. I vividly recall standing in my high school cafeteria at the age of 17 listening to the statewide announcement of our lottery draft numbers. The numbers were drawn by birth date and the official reading the numbers started the broadcast noting that the first 123 numbers drawn were almost certain to be drafted, the second 123 numbers may or may not be depending on need, and the last 119 could rest easier. My birthday was drawn 124th. The birthday of my friend, who happened to be standing next to me, was drawn 3rd.
I offer that only to suggest that there are certain historical events that help to define individuals, if not a generation. The risk of being sent to fight in the jungle of Southeast Asia was one for me. That’s not to say that iGen’ers have not endured such historic events. It’s just to remind us that they exist.
The other observation that I had, which isn’t directly explored in the book, is the change not just in how we live, but where we live. I walked to school on my own starting in the fourth grade, road my bicycle everywhere, and spent nearly all of my waking hours with friends—with no adult supervision. People didn’t live in sub-divisions so much in those days. We lived in economically diverse neighborhoods. Urban sprawl and the socio-economic homogeneity of the suburban subdivision have both empowered and demanded certain changes in how our children live.
My final observation has to do with the individualistic versus collective social norm. Professor Twenge writes, “…cultural individualism is connected to slower developmental speeds across both countries and time. Around the world, young adults grow up more slowly in individualistic countries than collectivist ones.”
My family lived in China for nine years. For my daughters, it was during the period from age 5 until age 14, on average. China has a collective culture in the extreme and it was my observation that the children matured very slowly, at least compared to my personal experience as a Boomer. (I found out from this book that this is a global development.) Because of the collectivist culture, however, my wife and I were very lenient with the independence we allowed out daughters. At a restaurant, for example, we never hesitated to let the children go off and play on their own, out of our sight. (A children’s play area is offered at virtually every restaurant.) Violent crime and attacks on children are rare in China, but more importantly, we knew that everyone else at the restaurant, including the staff, would keep a close eye on the safety of the children. It’s just part of the collectivist mentality. They all feel responsible. My point being that I’m not sure the individualistic versus collectivist dimension isn’t a bit counter-intuitive when you get to the social extremes.
The study does reinforce the far-reaching impact of technology. It comes with a lot of baggage. Social media is not social at all. It’s entertainment. And, for the most part, it’s not authentic. Selfies, for example, are always staged. Reminded me of The Jetsons, when they would always hold a mask of perfection in front of their face when talking on the video phone.
In many ways, I consider this book to be a launching pad rather than a conclusion. Professor Twenge has done a great job of starting the conversation. But it needs to continue. What is it about technology that has cast our children in this way? Why do they think and behave the way they do? (Twenge has started that conversation in many areas.) And what, as parents and members of the larger community, can we do to reinforce the good things (e.g., our children are safer) and attack the negatives (e.g., suicide rates are up).
Some of the developments are going to be a little tricky. Twenge points out, for example, that iGen’ers are overwhelmingly inclusive. In terms of the racism that is haunting our society today, that might suggest we just need to wait and the problem will be resolved. I don’t think so, and, to her credit, Twenge apparently agrees. A commitment to inclusion is not enough. We must do more.
I also think it will take the village to address the iGen’ers overwhelming anxiety about their financial future. That is truly a problem for the business community and the government to solve. The implied social contract that existed between employer and employee when I started my career disappeared starting in the 80s. It isn’t coming back but we have to build some form of alternative. Technology and social evolution have taken away the safety net of self-sufficiency (i.e. the Thoreau model) and have left a void in its place. It’s a void that needs to be filled; or bridged, perhaps.
I, therefore, go beyond the parents of iGen’ers and educators in recommending this book. We all need to read it because we all have a role to play, both for our children, our selves, and the future of our society.
I also recommend the book for teens. My 17 year old picked it up and read several pages and plans to read more. I'm also sending the book to my college-aged daughter and hoping she will share it with the Residential Life office where she works.
The book is based on hard data and filled with charts, but there are also anecdotes to humanize the numbers. Quick read and super interesting!!!
This book focuses on the new generation, particularly the most recent one that does not know of a world without a screen that you can flip images through with the flick of a finger on a backlit display. Dr. Twenge also compares this to the previous generation, the Millenials as well as GenX. In such a short time period, there have been enormous changes in American culture. Dr. Twenge evaluates these changes and provides significant data from well-known, reliable sources.
Dr. Twenge uses data and real life interviews with those that are part of iGen. I found many of her conversations quite humerous. In particular, many of her interviewees used the word 'like' several times, often in the same sentence. I found this to be quite humerous, but very real from conversations with my nieces and nephews.
Overall, great book. I plan on buying Dr. Twenge's other books. Personally, I like her writing style in that it is clear and unambigous. Mostly, given the contents it describes, it in no way, shape or form reads like a textbook.
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