Millennials were the first generation to really grow up in the age of the internet. I can recall ‘surfing the web’ for the first time at home around age 11, and I’m an older millennial. My younger brother, for instance, was out on the web at age 6. E-mailing, texting, instant messaging, Facebooking, tweeting, and perhaps even blogging, have become our preferred method of virtual communication.
And perhaps it is in the realm of technology and social media that the gap is so large between millennials and their generational predecessors.
According to the Pew Research survey on millennials, ‘Millennials outpace older Americans in virtually all types of internet and cell use.’
75% of us have a social networking profile, compared to 50% of Gen Xers and 30% of our Boomer parents. 62% of us have accessed wireless internet away from home, compared to 48% of Xers and 35% of Boomers. 20% of Millennials have posted a video of ourselves online. Far outpacing Xers (6%) and Boomers (2%).
In cell usage, 88% of Gen Y use their cell phones to text, compared to 51% of Baby Boomers. 80% of us have texted in the last 24 hours; only 63% of Xers and 35% of Boomers have. 41% of Millennials have no land line phone, compared to 24% of Gen X and 14% of Baby Boomers.
Generation Y is also more likely to have a positive view on new technology, and also more likely to agree that new technology makes people closer to friends and family than previous generations. Similarly, we are more likely to agree that new technology makes our lives more efficient, rather than being time wasters.
But how, if at all, could this affect how millennials parent their children?
Well the most obvious begins with the internet. Millennials were probably among the first in their households to really use the internet as a communication and information medium. Even today, I think my parents would agree that my brother and I are more internet-savvy than they are, simply because we started using the internet at a young age. We were the first in our families to get Facebook (remember when Facebook used to only be for college students?). We were the first to watch videos on YouTube. We are the only ones that blog. I even still find myself helping folks of older generations navigate online features. Heck, I even Facebooked labor and delivery from my cell phone.
Our children won’t experience this. They are going to be born to parents with Facebook profiles (or parents that have blogs documenting their childhood…talk about embarrassing!). We’ll be teaching our kids how to utilize the internet. Elementary school work will be done on the computer. Children are going to be growing up in wireless households with laptops and networks and fighting over internet usage.
Similarly, children are going to grow up in a world of cell phones. About 51% of our parents use their cell phones to text; for our children, that number will be more like 9 in 10. Smart phones have revolutioned the telecommunications industry, and is quickly becoming the ‘norm’ for millennials.
I agree that these technologies have helped me be more in contact with my friends and family. I know for my parents, me having a cell phone helped knock down a barrier of worry. If I was out at night with my friends, they could get a hold of me and vice versa at any time. My mom or dad can text me now if they know I’m busy, or send me an e-mail, or post on my Facebook wall.
Millennial parents have to consider when to give their child their first cell phone, or perhaps their first laptop. While the internet has been helpful in keeping people in touch, a lot of dangers exist, and millennials will have to teach their children appropriate internet habits and who/what to look out for. With new technology come new concerns.
It’s certainly going to be a broader area to navigate for millennials parents, and one I know we’re already discussing even while our son is still an infant. We want him to enjoy all that the world of technology has to offer. But when will kids start to have phones or start using the computer regularly? What rules will parents have for their children? Will we monitor their Facebook profiles, or let them have independence? All questions that millennial parents are going to be facing very, very soon in the lives of their children.
Stay tuned, as Part III of the continuing series will focus on family values and the effects on millennial parenting.