|A Peek into the Future||From: Save the Future Now|
The one book every parent, teacher, coach, and youth worker should read.
This landmark book paints a compelling — and sobering — picture of what could happen to our society if we don’t change the way we lead today’s teens and young adults. Research-based and solution-biased, it moves beyond sounding an alarm to outlining practical strategies to:
■ Guide unprepared adolescents to productive adulthood
■ Correct crippling parenting styles
■ Repair damage from (unintentional) lies we’ve told kids
■ Coach them toward real success instead of superficial “self-esteem”
■ Adopt education strategies that engage (instead of bore) an “i" generation
■ Pull youth out of their “digital” ghetto into the real world
■ Employ their strengths and work with their weaknesses on the job
■ Defuse a worldwide demographic time bomb
■ Equip Generation iY to lead us into the future
It’s a product of my imagination — but it’s an informed imagination. The ideas aren’t far-fetched. They represent a future that could well be a reality if adults today don’t do something different to engage the generation of kids now coming down the pike.
A few years ago, I had a hunch. I met with adults and young people to talk about the year 2030. I talked to parents, educators, youth workers and employers as well as futurists who have been studying the next generation. I also met students in focus groups and wrote to thousands via Facebook, blogs, and e-mail. I especially wanted to hear what young people foresee as they peer into the next twenty years. From all those interactions, I have gotten a glimpse into the possible future of the kids who are approaching adulthood right now.
To be honest, I’m worried about what I’ve seen.
I have worked with young people for more than thirty years now — as an educator, a parent, a mentor, and an employer. Until fairly recently, I have remained quite optimistic about their future. But these days I’m feeling something different. I am frightened about what the world may look like in years to come and angry at how we have failed the generation who will be running that world.
They are your kids. They are your neighbor’s kids. They are your students. They are your athletes. They are your young employees. They are your future.
They are Generation iY.
And I believe they’re in trouble.
The people I’m talking about are the latest wave of what is commonly called Generation Y, or the Millennials, generally defined as those born between 1984 and 2002. The younger Millennials, born after 1990, resemble their earlier Gen Y counterparts in many ways, but in volumes of other ways they stand in stark contrast to them. (I’ll discuss this later in more detail.) More than any previous group, this younger population has been defined by technology — which is why I believe it’s accurate to call them Generation iY.
Why this title? It’s because of the tangible impact of the “i” world (the Internet) on their lives. This population, born in the 1990s and afterward, has literally grown up online. Theirs is the world of the iPod, iBook, iPhone, iChat, iMovie, iPad, and iTunes. And for many of them, life is pretty much about “I.”
On Earth Day in 2009, you may remember a new automobile was introduced to America: the Peapod. It was, in essence, an iCar. You start the car by plugging in your iPod or your iPhone and begin interacting. It’s a new world — an iWorld — and it belongs to young people who have grown up in the last decade of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first. They are connected not only by age, but by shared music, shared tragedies and crises, shared Web sites and TV programs, shared heroes, shared technology, shared wars, and shared media icons.
Ready or not, they are now entering the adult world. And unless we wake up and make some adjustments in the way we interact with them, I predict rough waters ahead. We can already see several of the unintended consequences of this new world we’ve created for them — a world that allows for high speed, constant connection, sedentary lifestyles, pitiful relational skills, and a large dose of narcissism.
I can’t say for certain that my fictional letter will come true. If current trends continue, however, the picture I’ve painted might just become a reality.
But it’s not too late. The future of Generation iY has the potential to change for the better if we act now.
That’s why I’ve written this book. It’s for parents, teachers, coaches, youth workers, retailers, pastors, employers — anyone in the position to lead Generation iY. Although it contains some bad news — some honest indictments about the way this generation of kids is being raised — it’s primarily a book of hope. It’s full of practical ideas for understanding iYers, engaging them effectively, and leading them wisely.
We’ve got to do it.
Their future — our future — depends on it.
|The Future in a Word
What will Generation iY’s future be like? After talking with thousands of students about what they think, I’ve come up with twenty-six phrases we could hear from adults in the year 2030.
Some are tongue-in-cheek, some more likely than others, but together they paint a sobering picture of what life will be like for Generation iY unless something changes.