1. The magical wizard Harry Potter (the “older” end of the generation) These “first wave Millennials” (today’s 20-somethings) came of age in the economic boom of the 90s/early ‘00s, a time infused with the spirit of “Yes We Can” and the belief that college, working hard and playing by the rules would guarantee future success. Raised by idealistic Boomer parents, they were told they were special and gifted, with a magic wand capable of changing the world. They were shaped by a context of seemingly limitless possibilities.
2. The Hunger Game’s trailblazing survivalist Katniss Everdeen (the younger end of the generation, peeking into Gen Z). This second wave of Millennials, today’s tweens & teens, have known a very different youth. They came of age in an economic downturn, seeing college grads struggling with huge student loan debt and living through a cascade of social media-amplified tragedies like Hurricane Sandy and Sandy Hook. For them, life has always been a 24/7 social media show.
It’s a challenging world to traverse, and like Katniss from the Hunger Games, they are navigating life by honing specialized, self-taught (often Internet-acquired) survival skills. They are also utilizing the advice of their pragmatic Gen X parents, who don’t say “the world is your oyster,” but rather “you have to create your own oyster.”
This assessment is based on a recent study – Young Millennials Will Keep Calm & Carry On – by MTV.
MTV set out to understand the younger end of the Millennial demo, 13-17 year olds, who will soon move into the “sweet spot” of MTV’s core target demographic of 18-24 year olds. This is a landmark generational study that builds on MTV’s long legacy of deeply understanding our audience, as part of an effort to constantly reinvent ourselves and stay at the bleeding edge of youth culture.
Millennials are one of the most analyzed, scrutinized, criticized and even glorified generations ever. But what much of Millennial research fails to recognize is that there are two distinct groups within the generation, as illustrated by MTV’s new study.
Generational analysis has always been very vague and generalized because to be more specific about people who were born and grew up almost 20 years apart, as in Boomers born in 1946 compared to those born in 1964, is a difficult task. Few researchers felt the need to be more specific. Early Boomers are very different from late Boomers, because society changed drastically from the post-WWII “Rock-n-Roll” era to the psychedelic “Hippy” era.
The rest of the article goes on to elaborate on the younger segment of Millennials, focusing on four important traits.
These pragmatic youth are natural preppers in the face of an unpredictable world – whether planning for physically safety in light of violence or prepping for their futures in a more uncertain economic climate.
Young Millennials are consummate brand managers, honing their unique personal brand to stand out and specialize in a world that’s increasingly competitive (whether that’s in terms of obtaining a following online or getting into college.)
YMs are consciously taking time to self-soothe (a classic coping mechanism from hyper-stimulation) disconnect, de-stress, de-stimulate and control inputs. They “mono-task” and focus on immersive hands-on activities like baking, sewing or crafting. They claim their dependence on social media is overrated: one girl says “My parents Facebook more than I do.”
This is the first generation of “digital latchkey kids.” Though increasingly physically protected by parents, teens’ web behavior is not as closely monitored. But like the Gen X Latchkey Kids who created their own rules and regimes while parents worked, youth today are surprisingly filtering out what’s overwhelming to them online: avoiding certain Youtube videos or sites that they think are gross, inappropriate or disturbing.
So what? This is about your library’s survival!
As libraries try to figure out how to become relevant to their community, it is critical to understand the patrons/customers/ members/users who are growing up to be the ones who either support your library and become engaged with it, or ignore it as having nothing to offer them. When young people dislike something, it’s nearly impossible for parents to convince them that it is “good for them,” which means the parents may no longer support the library either because it can’t meet their family’s needs.
It is important to know that younger Millennials may be more receptive to your library website and social media – if it is designed well – because,
Unlike older Millennials who were pioneers in the “Wild West of social media,” today’s teens are “tech homesteaders” – they’re more savvy about how to use the internet, build “gated” groups, “hide in plain view”, curate and filter.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR COMMUNITY OF LIBRARY USERS, AND ARE YOU MEETING THEIR NEEDS?