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iGen Generation: Scientists Have Discovered Achilles Heel of Today's Youth
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iGen Generation: Scientists Have Discovered Achilles Heel of Today's Youth

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USA – January 28, 2019

Those born between 1995 and 2012 are called the iGen generation. Unlike the Millennials, they did not know the world without the internet and computers. This makes them psychologically vulnerable, scientists believe. Now the iGen generation is in college. What can be expected from them in the future?

Internet as a habitat

Students bury themselves in their smartphones and don’t seem to be listening to the professor, who is tired of reprimanding them about it, and conflicts arise. However, the students shouldn’t be accused of carelessness and disrespect, psychologists say. They’ve grown up with digital technology — the internet is its element. Without the internet comes stress. It is difficult for them to concentrate and take information just from one source.

This is the first generation to be familiar with the internet and various gadgets from the time they were in diapers. Jean Twenge, a psychologist at the State University of San Diego, proposes the title the “internet generation,” or iGen, which was preceded by the famous millennials.

There are 74 million iGen members in the US — one in four. Ethnically and culturally, this is the most diverse generation that has grown up in international, multicultural and, increasingly, non-traditional families.

Until 2013, descendants of white Europeans among iGen still prevailed — 53%. Now they are a minority.

igen Generation: Scientists Have Discovered Achilles Heel of Today's Youth

Smartphones create phobias

Twenge believes that the iGen generation was formed under the influence of gadgets through which young people communicate with the outside world. In a recent article, a researcher published the results of a 2016 survey of young Americans. It turned out that 14-17-year-olds, who do not look up from their smartphones seven or more hours a day, have twice the risk of developing depression and anxiety. They often go to doctors with mental problems and take more medication.

According to Twenge, teens that use a smartphone at least one hour a day have worse psychological well-being, less curiosity and weaker self-control. They are more distracted, it is more difficult for them to build friendships, to control emotions, to take care of someone, and to finish work they have begun.

iGen spends most of their time with gadgets. They often have attention deficit disorder. On average, they are able to focus for eight seconds, while their predecessors, the millennials, are at 12.

In the US, since 2011, there has been an increase in the number of teenage depressions and suicides.

According to surveys, today's teenagers are more likely to feel lonely than their peers of previous generations. After the appearance of the iPhone in 2007, this figure grew by 32%.

Young people have new phobias and addictions: the fear of being left without a mobile phone, without the internet, or falling out of the loop or the thirst to constantly monitor social networks. America has not known such a mental health crisis for decades, says clinical psychologist Brenda Wierhold (Belgium) in an editorial column.

Traditions are cracking

In their book Generation Z Going to College (Generation Z is another name for iGen), American researchers Corey Similler and Megan Grace, having compiled a collective portrait of 1,200 American students, conclude that today's young people prefer to communicate online, they are very dependent on public opinions, and they are afraid to disappoint others.

Students are used to getting what they want right away, smartphone in hand, whether it be a film, clothes, or an exercise program — time and location are immaterial here — which plays into the desire to quickly receive feedback from teachers and the fear of missing important information.

Young people are strongly tied to search engines, deriving information not from paper books, but from internet sources, and often are not able to adequately assess the degree of their reliability. With access to news from around the world, iGen represents a world full of catastrophes and wars. Because of this, they feel anxious and strive for greater security.

Bobby Shatto and Kelly Erwin from St. Louis University Medical College note that iGen, like the millennials, are prone to multitasking and are better involved in their work if they are given complete autonomy and the possibility to choose technologies. Students spend an average of nine hours a day on multimedia. Sites such as Tumblr, Twitter, and YouTube are very popular. With this in mind, traditional forms of education are no longer effective, the authors believe.

Portrait of a digital hero

A Time article titled "Doomed Generation" briefly described the main problems of today's youth:

Narcissistic personality disorder is three times more common in the current 20-year-olds than in the elderly generation which is 65 or more today; students in 2009 are 58% more narcissistic than students in 1982.

As they grow older, millennials receive so many incentives for participating in all kinds of competitions that 40% of them expect a salary increase every two years, regardless of success.

They are obsessed with fame: A 2007 survey shows that there are three times more schoolgirls who want to become the personal assistant to a famous person than those who dream of becoming a senator. And those who prefer assistant work to the work of the General Director of the largest corporations are four times more.

They are confident in their own abilitiesl: 60% of them believe that they're able to intuitively determine what is right and what is not. At the same time, most of those who are 18 to 29 today still live with their parents.

They are quite lazy: In 1992, about 80% of people under 23 wanted to get a job with a high degree of responsibility; 10 years later, this figure fell to 60%.

Teachers often ask students what are the most striking features of the future they see, which sectors of the US economy will be the most competitive in 15-20 years? The sample from the point of view of sociology is not the most representative, but it clearly shows how young people’s views interested in innovation and technological future have changed.

According to some similar surveys, the oil and gas industry, leading in the students' responses in the 2000s, took a back seat. Instead, the issues of socialization and collective intelligence have come to the fore. Also, technology remains in the lead for importance for the national economy.

Among iGen characteristics are also high adaptability, full dependence on public opinion and at the same time unwillingness to bear personal responsibility for their own or corporate actions. If adults see this as a contradiction, young people are focused on other values.

Another important iGen trait, according to experts, is limited skills in "unstructured reality.”

The point is that if a student wasn't given clear instructions, it's unlikely he will be able to do anything. This is reminiscent of the American educational model of the last century when every student or schoolboy had tracks on which they are lead. As a result, people get used to being led all the time. This is the reason for the large number of informal opinion leaders that all young people follow, and it makes life easier. One can say that this is the generation of "intellectual fast food."

The time when people will be almost unable to work is not far off, and why should they, when the internet provides all the answers? For example, in Japan, there is a trend where innovative businesses are increasingly founded by aged entrepreneurs. Many experts believe that the internet generation will not be able to work by the age of 50. And how, then, will they be able to compete with the able-bodied older generation?

iGen in the future

The results of the scientific and technological revolution will be visible in the next 10 years. The internet generation is likely to face serious challenges.

Discoveries made in the 1960s and 1970s in the military and industrial spheres are no longer linear and the snowball effect is leading to to our reality: the digitalization of everything, virtual and augmented reality, brain-computer interfaces, smart materials, cellular technologies. Although the internet generation feels great in this environment, there's a feeling that they have a weak inner core.

This generation, who grew up in greenhouse conditions, seeking to earn millions, striving for public recognition and having the skills to manage the digital world, is not psychologically ready for turns in history.

They all know how to maintain personal pages online, but psychology has its own laws. Global trends can throw a new generation of "black swans,” or jokers — so-called events with a low probability but large-scale effect.

Only a complete system change, that is a loud historical event, will help to change the situation, otherwise, this generation is doomed to nothingness and poverty.

The current system, aimed at dullness, still prevails. We know this from the education system, lack of work, or its availability in the service sector, permanent payments and taxes. The system keeps track of everyone, and the current generation is not able to resist it — it adapts. They are semi-robots ready to dance to someone else's tune.

Instead of understanding the situation, young people use Google where the same machine will indicate what is beneficial to the system, but not the truth, which no one will understand.

Thus, no one will help young people — not even they themselves. People need a forced change of system, which will give the chance to change something for the better.

Author: USA Really