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How Millennials Differ from Generations that Came Before

Millennial Magazine - generations that came before

Most people define the Millennial generation as individuals born from 1981 to 1996. That means they’re between ages 26 and 41 right now. Some have reached middle age, while others are hot on their heels.

Each generation has certain characteristics, and Millennials are no different. When you think about Millennial culture and what makes them tick, it’s essential to understand some of their fundamental beliefs and values. While every generation has its outliers, you can also identify certain traits that they share.

We’ll talk about what makes Millennials different from prior generations in the following article.

The Personal Computer Generation

Millennials often know more about computers than those who came before. You could argue that the prior generation, Gen X, grew up with at-home computers, but computers really found a niche in homes during the average Millennial childhood.

Millennials mostly grew up with floppy disks and video games they could play on their home computers that would seem positively primitive by today’s standards. Because of this, you could safely say that most Millennials know more about computer technology than the generations that came before. Again, you’ll find exceptions, but many Millennials grew up taking basic or even advanced computer classes at school.

That means many Millennials have gotten into jobs where they can use those skills. Some get into marketing, for instance. You might hire a Millennial if you’re thinking about having brand consistency across all your banner ads or you want to launch a social media advertising campaign for your business.

Millennials took to smartphones, laptops, and tablets quickly. They took to online gaming and texting faster than most older generations. By the time most Millennials got to college, they had cell phones, if not before.

Shorter Attention Spans

Because of this, you could argue that Millennials have shorter attention spans than prior generations. The average Millennial will no longer watch a half-hour or one-hour news program, for instance. 

Instead, if they want news, they’ll turn to social media or just browse online, looking for headlines. If something newsworthy happens, their phone will probably tell them about it via a free news app.

Since they have shorter attention spans, they’re less inclined to want to sit still and listen to a lecture. Medical science seems to back up this assertion. More individuals from the Millennial generation have received ADHD diagnoses than any prior one.

This led some of them to struggle in high school and college. They’re a more heavily medicated generation than ever before. Mental health professional reports seem to indicate they’re more prone to depression and anxiety than previous generations, or perhaps they’re just more open to talking about it.

Less Company Loyalty

Right now, employers have to deal with the Great Resignation, and Millennials are right in the thick of that. Since they’re aged 26-41 right now, they’re at the time when they need to work to make enough money to support themselves and their families. However, many of them realize they can work full-time at some companies and not make anywhere close to enough money to support themselves, not to mention their spouse or partner and kids.

Because of this, many of them seem willing to walk away from jobs rather than toiling silently, like prior generations. They’re willing to walk away from minimum wage employment and move back in with their parents instead of continuing to dedicate their time to unappreciative companies.

Of course, you could also make the point that prior generations could more easily afford housing than Millennials, even if they made lower salaries. Housing costs have skyrocketed, with most banks not even willing to give Millennial clients mortgages. Because of this, fewer Millennials have become homeowners than prior generations.

They want home ownership, but most of them can’t have it. They’re the renter generation. This doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon unless the minimum wage rises dramatically at some point.

They’re Not Having Kids as Much

Millennials are not having kids as much as previous generations. That’s probably directly linked to not having enough money to support themselves in relative comfort. 

If a Millennial has kids, more times than not, it’s an unplanned pregnancy. Those trying to plan out their family lives increasingly won’t have kids because they don’t feel like they can give them anything approaching a comfortable lifestyle.

They Embrace Cultural Shifts

Millennials seem more willing to embrace cultural shifts at which previous generations balked. For instance, Millennials seem more okay with interracial marriages. They’re usually fine with dating outside of their culture or dating someone of a different religion. Past generations would probably not have allowed that to happen.

They seem okay with gay and transgender rights more than previous generations. In the past couple of decades, since Millennials became adults, we’ve seen gay marriage legalized in America. That’s not a coincidence.

They seem fine with marijuana legalization. They overwhelmingly support it, and it seems likely that as more of them become politically involved, we will see nationwide legalization because of their support. Millennials accept this shift as a foregone conclusion when other generations did not.

Frankly, many Millennials seem inclined to question conventions put into place by previous generations. They’re among the loudest to clamor for healthcare reform and paid paternity and maternity leave. Many of them have abandoned organized religion, according to numerous studies by accredited institutions.

Millennials appear ready to make certain changes to this country if they can figure out a way to do it. Many of them seem patriotic, but they’re willing to fight for a belief system that does not entirely align with the current one.  

Millennials don’t act in lockstep with either the generations that came before or the ones coming up behind them. Because of this, they’re hard to define, and they’re equally difficult to predict. Many see them as a generation with potential. It’s anyone’s guess whether or not they can fulfill that potential or fall victim to their own angst.

What do you think?

Written by Britt Hysen

Britt Hysen is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of MiLLENNiAL. In response to the branded ad campaigns absorbed by the media platform, Britt launched Kreativ Ctrl, a full-service marketing agency specializing in experiential programming and strategic partnerships.

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