Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Millennials can make a difference

We are selfish, we are narcissistic and we are self-centered. These are just a few of the words that have recently been used to define our generation, a trend that one researcher believes could harm our personal relationships and the very society we live in.

The comments come from Jean Twenge, a professor at San Diego University in a book titled, “Generation Me.” Twenge claims that we (the millennials, those born between 1981-1999) are prone to depression, self-destruction, violence and civic decay as we grow older. Maybe she should take a closer look at her findings.

While Twenge claims surveys of more than 16,000 college students, the largest study of its kind, prove that we are more narcissistic and self-centered than our predecessors, the evidence just doesn’t add up. In reality, we are positive, confident, optimistic and have a strong regard for our parents, friends and the communities we live in.

We have grown up in an age of renewed faith in the family and several surveys indicate that we are very close to our moms and dads. The numbers claim we share our parent’s values or have little or no problem with any of our family members – a little hard to believe at times maybe, but nonetheless a good sign. The survey also found that many millennials want to live near their parents later in life.

According to the National center for Education Statistics, more students are enrolled in college today than our counterparts thirty years earlier. The data shows that the number of undergraduates in 2004 (17.3 million) was almost double that in 1970 (8.6 million).

More proof that Twenge’s claims don’t hold strong comes from The Christian Science Monitor, which reports that since 1994, the rate at which people under age 25 commit serious violent crimes has fallen by more than 60 percent. Additionally, the rate of pregnancy and abortion for girls under age 18 was down by roughly one-third since the mid-1990s, and cigarette and alcohol consumption in grades 8, 10 and 12 are now at their lowest levels since the survey began in 1975.

Our generation also has a strong work ethic and believes volunteering and giving back to our communities are top priorities. A study of more than 260,000 college freshmen released last year by UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute found that 66.3 percent of freshmen surveyed said it is "essential or very important" to help others. That is the highest percentage in 25 years.

We are the generation to watch. We are the generation who relies on iPods, Facebook and instant messaging, but the truth be told, we should be proud of ourselves. We show determination, confidence, creativity and courage and have a chance to become on of the greatest generations in history. Prove Twenge wrong and go out make a difference in the world.

Article Date: March 07, 2007