They are called i-Gen, the generation coming up behind millennials who are those born after 2000, and have never lived in a non-internet connected world. It’s the awkward age of pimples and first dates, but this group is experiencing it differently than any predecessors due to their reliance on social media, instant messaging, and facetime.
A recent study by Dr. Jean Twenge, a San Diego State University psychology professor who has come to the forefront in detailing generational differences, finds that 56% of those 14-18 year olds have had that first date, down from the 85% their parents experienced at that age. Her analysis of more than 11 million young people, highlighted in her book 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, reveals sexual activity by 14 and 15 year-olds has dropped 40% in the past 15 years. “Their social skills are compromised,” says Dallas-based therapist Lori Vann, who treats teenagers, “unless they are involved in some type of group at school such as choir, or band, or sports, where they are forced to have social interaction.”
However, even that perspective seems generational when talking with Noelle Mandell, CEO of the Texas Millennial Institute. “Just because people who are younger are apprehensive about getting involved physically at such a quick rate doesn’t mean they aren’t fostering the same sort of intense bonds that millennials and older generations have in the past,” she tells KTRH News.
“The technology has created this almost autistic reaction in that they don’t know how to read other people’s signals,” counters Vann. “They don’t know what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate.
They are young and unformed, but will certainly be the subject of intense study going forward as the first generation to develop many of their deepest relationships with screens.