Generation Y, also called the Millennials, are the young people born between 1984 and 2002. The youngest group of these, those born after 1990, are what author Tim Elmore calls Generation iY: the generation defined by technology (‘i’) and for whom life is pretty much about ‘I’.
His book Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future is aptly titled, for the whole book is a somber picture of what the future of this generation looks like if we (parents, teachers, youth leaders, etc) don’t act. It’s the strength of the book, for Elmore bases his conclusions on plenty of hard facts, data and reports. It’s also the weakness of the book, because his message of ‘the last chance to save their future’ becomes somewhat repetitive to the point of irritating me. There’s on the whole a bit too much repetition in this book, but that doesn’t take away from the valuable insights it gives into the minds of the Millennials.
There is tons of extremely helpful and challenging information in this book. Here are some interesting facts for instance:
- Generation iY will be the largest in earth’s history, already nearly half the world’s population is under 25 years old
- It’s demonstrably the most narcissistic generation, yet also the most social
- It’s a generation that is technologically savvy, yet reading comprehension is declining, as is general vocabulary
- As far as emotional maturity goes, generation iY lags behind previous generations. A significant percentage is what Elmore calls ‘emotionally backward’. Their Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is generally speaking low.
- Boys are especially lagging, less and less are going to college (boys are a minority in college now and the percentage is still dropping) and one third of men aged 22-34 are still living at home with their parents
There’s much, much more in this book that you need to read. It’s not just the data that’s interesting, the analysis and the predictions are challenging as well. How about the fact that history shows that when young people are in the majority, unrest and violence are the result? We’ve seen some of that last summer in the violent outbreaks in London for instance. After reading this book, I much better understand where this generation is coming from, what caused them to be who they are and to behave like they do.
Elmore shares a lot of practical tools we can use as youth leaders to help this generation of young people find their way in life and in society. He suggests topics for talks, approaches for mentoring programs, questions to ask and methods to use in teaching. His conviction is that we must instill in them the habits and the attitudes they will need to become effective leaders.
A challenging goal, for sure, but one that’s well worth the effort. I’m not sure I agree with all of Elmore’s somewhat pessimistic predictions for the future, but I do see that this generation needs our help. This book offers plenty of suggestions for us as youth leaders to do that. Read it and apply!