There is a new weapon in the ongoing attempt to understand the young people lurking around, or who have just left campus. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press has released a new survey charting the views of "Generation Next," those in the age range of 18 to 25. They are money hungry, relatively happy, and plugged into technology.
Respondents said achieving fortune and fame are the top goals of their generation. Senior Researcher Kim Parker suggests "reality TV" might be a factor in those goals, as it is considered easier to get "30 minutes" of fame these days. The desire to get rich is understandable, when you consider that the top survey concern (30%) was financial issues. On the other hand, they feel that educational and job opportunities are better for them today than for previous generations. But they worry about getting that education. According to the report, "Nearly one-in-five (18%) say getting into college, paying for tuition, handling the workload and graduating are among their most important problems. Young people also worry about their jobs and careers: 16% name finding a job, career advancement, job security and job satisfaction as their most important problem."
Despite those concerns 34%, characterize their quality of life as excellent, while 84% say their life is excellent or good.
As for technology, despite that prospects don't want colleges to text them, Generation Next remains addicted to the medium, with 51% reporting they sent or received a text message in the last 24 hours. They are also a little more aware of the dangers of social networking sites than adults give them credit for: (72%) feel that their fellow Gen Nexters post too much personal information on the internet, with women being in the majority. However, stopping illegal downloads will continue to be an uphill battle, 46% say the practice is OK.
The end result? All of your worst fears have been confirmed, but the silver lining is shining brightly. The full report is available at www.pewtrusts.org. -A.M.