DIGITAL AMERICA

A Case for Millennials

// Posted by on 04/22/2013 (12:14 AM)

Am I the only one sick of us Millennials being called a failing, stupid, unmotivated, lazy, self-centered generation? It seems like everywhere I look some baby boomer or someone from Generation X is constantly putting down our generation.  Yes, we, Generation Y or the Millennials, are more connected than any other generation, but why does this have to be a bad thing? First, let’s remember that we were born into the digital age, it was not something we chose and we cannot be held fully responsible for where it has landed us. But I will argue that our tech-savvy generation has made the best, well maybe not the best but good use, of what the Internet has to offer. Older generations need to stop criticizing us for adapting to the digital world that we were born into.

Accusations against us are coming from all over. OnlineSchools.com put together data from Pew and Kaiser and created the infographic below indicating that technology and media consumption are negatively affecting young people’s grades, behaviors and emotions. The graph shows that forty seven percent of the heavy media users reported typically earning grades of C or below in school, compared to just 23 percent of the light users. And twice as many heavy media users as compared to light users are reported getting in trouble frequently. So  according to the Pew and Kaiser study, technology and media use is negatively affecting our lives.

 

Some people are going even further…Mark Bauerlein, author The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future, argues that Millennials are under-using or misusing the Internet and technology available to them. Bauerlein argues that Millennials ignorantly use the Internet to extend and deepen social ties rather than using it to learn and enrich themselves in history and worldly affairs. The “dumbest” generation…well thanks Mark Bauerlein.

In response to the Pew and Kaiser study, I would argue that the impact of technology and media use on low grades reflects not on the students alone but on the education systems failure to keep up with the times. Keeping in mind that Millennials are trained to process information differently due to technology, the Internet and digital media, our educations need to adapt to support that and use it to their benefit. According to the National Lone Star Report on Aligning Technology with Student Success, “Of more than 6,000 students polled across 36 campuses, 77 percent said their grades improved through web-based course material and online classroom managing sites like Moodle”. Therefore, use of technology in the classroom is strongly tied to positive results including higher grades. So maybe we’re not the problem, you are…times have changed and its time our education system catches up.

In response to Mr. Bauerlein, who claims that “America’s youth know virtually nothing about history and politics” I would say he’s full of crap. Bauerlein writes, “You [the Millennials] are six times more likely to know who the latest American Idol is than you are to know who the speaker of the U.S. House is” but according to the National Conference on Citizenship, “Millennials vote at a rate higher than other generations at their age and are generally more committed to civic and political causes.” In fact, in the 2012 Presidential Election, our generation, ages 18-29, was a key factor in President Obama’s re-election. Robillard on Politico.com writes, “Obama easily won the youth vote nationally, 67 percent to 30 percent, with young voters proving the decisive difference in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, according to an analysis by the Center for Research and Information on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University”.

In contrast to all the negative press that Millennials are receiving, I wish shed some light, and save the name of our generation. I believe that the Millennial generation is by far one of the most politically and socially active generations that America has had in a while. Many older activists may dismiss us as slackavists as they believe that our digital activism has less affect that hitting the streets in the name of a cause. Our non-traditional activism, including Facebook posts, Tweets, YouTube videos, etc., cannot be dismissed! Taken alone, yes, much of our digital activism may not seem like much. But our online efforts merge with offline efforts and can be powerful as we have seen through OWS, Yo Soy 132 and the Arab spring uprisings. Gay marriage is now legalized nine states largely due to online efforts and digital activism. Millenials are changing activism, redefining it even…and whether or not older generations embrace or accept it doesn’t matter, the results speak for themselves.

So what that we like to connect with friends on Facebook, tweet about what we’re doing, or Instagram a photo of our dinner…our leisurely use of the Internet and technology should not overshadow our intellectual, humanitarian and practical uses of it too.


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