MTV, a division of Viacom , today unveiled the results of its new landmark generational study, “The New Millennials Will Keep Calm and Carry On, ” investigating the shifting dynamics between younger and older Millennials in the United States.
Building upon MTV’s legacy of deeply understanding its audience and constantly reinventing, today’s results uncover that younger Millennials (ages 13-17) are different from their older counterparts in key ways: beginning to map their careers at 13, absorbing the advice of pragmatic Gen X parents, and adjusting the rules of how and when to use technology — even unplugging and mono-tasking to de-stress.
The differences between first and second wave Millennials can be seen as the juxtaposition between Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen of “The Hunger Games.” Today’s twenty-somethings — more akin to the magical wizard Harry Potter — represent the Millennials that came of age in the economic boom of the 90s/early 2000s, a time of “Yes We Can” and the belief that college, working hard and playing by the rules would guarantee future success. Raised by idealistic Boomer parents, older Millennials were told they were special and gifted, with a magic wand capable of changing the world.
Today’s tweens and teens have known a very different youth. They’ve come of age during the Great Recession, seeing college graduates struggling with huge student loan debt and living through a cascade of social-media amplified tragedies — from Hurricane Sandy to the Sandy Hook School shooting. While this reality is having a profound impact on Young Millennials’ world view, they still exhibit the optimism of their older counterparts, and instead of giving up are prepping, planning and specializing to achieve the future they want for themselves.
“Millennials are the biggest generation in history, and to stay at the forefront of youth culture, we need to deeply understand the rising tide — who will soon be our core audience and new employees, ” said Stephen Friedman, President of MTV. “This study clearly shows that Millennials cannot be viewed as a monolithic bloc. We are especially impressed to see how Millennial teens are resiliently and optimistically responding to adversity and preparing to win in the game of life.”
“The New Millennials Will Keep Calm and Carry On” shows that younger Millennials are rapidly adapting to changing “environmental” conditions, and like Katniss, are navigating life by honing specialized, self-taught (often Internet-acquired) survival skills.
- Over three-quarters of Millennials today ages 14-17 “worry about the negative impact that today’s economy will have on me or my future”
- 60% of 14-17 year olds say “I believe that my generation will be worse off than my parents’ generation” and 60% feel “very stressed about getting into a good high school or college”
- In 2010, 71% of young Millennials agreed with the statement “If I want to do something, no one is going to stop me” versus only 51% in 2013
- 69% say “I put more pressure on myself than others put on me”
- Over one-third of younger Millennials agree they “plot out escape plans when in public places, because of events like Sandy Hook”
- Although half are scared of violence at school, they seem to have adopted a practical “Keep Calm and Carry On” mentality
Tech Homesteaders & Mono-tasking
Unlike older Millennials who were pioneers in the “Wild West” of social media, today’s young Millennials are “tech homesteaders” — more savvy about how to use technology, interested in building “gated” groups, curating, filtering and choosing to selectively unplug.
They are also consciously taking time to self-soothe, disconnect, de-stress, de-stimulate and control inputs. They increasingly “mono-task” and focus on immersive hands-on activities like baking, sewing or crafting. Some claim their dependence on social media is overrated: one girl says “My parents Facebook more than I do.”
- 8 in 10 young Millennials agree that “Sometimes I just need to unplug and enjoy the simple things”
- 82% of young Millennials agree “when I’m stressed or overwhelmed, I like to stop and just do one thing at a time”
- More than half (57%) of young Millennials like to take a break from technology to make things with their hands
Younger Millennials are heeding the advice of their pragmatic Gen X parents, who don’t say “the world is your oyster” but rather “you’ve got to create your own oyster”:
- 84% of 14-17 year olds say “I know why I shouldn’t do something, because my parents explain the consequences to me”
- In 2013, 68% of young Millennials agree with the statement “My parents are like a best-friend to me, ” an increase of 10% from 2010 where 58% agreed
- 84% agree “It’s really important to always be prepared and have a plan”
Young Millennials are consummate brand managers, honing their unique personal brand to stand out and specialize in a world that’s increasingly competitive (whether that’s in terms of obtaining a following online or getting into college). They are “DIY Learners” and leverage YouTube videos and niche online communities to delve into the intricacies of their passion. Many have established a unique voice in Tumblr or Instagram as the person who posts photos related to “all things neon” or “romantic Victorian” or “90’s grunge.”
- 84% say “I love being an expert in things, ” while 78% claim “someone I know would consider me an expert in at least one thing”
- 7 in 10 say “I learn how to do things on YouTube” or “I go to YouTube for DIY videos”
This is the first generation of “digital latchkey kids.” Though increasingly physically protected by parents, teens’ web behavior is not as closely monitored. But like Gen X latchkey kids who created their own rules and regimes while parents worked, youth today are surprisingly filtering out what’s overwhelming to them online:
- About 7 in 10 say I have the freedom online to go anywhere or do anything I want
- 88% try to avoid cruel videos online
- 76% try to avoid people being mean to each other
- 74% try to avoid videos about violence
In addition, they are slimming down their social networks and finding niche/private places to share in a controlled environment, whether it’s Snapchat or a locked Instagram feed.
“The New Millennials Will Keep Calm and Carry On” was fielded by MTV Insights in the United States in early 2013 and included a combination of quantitative results (1, 800 Young Millennials ages 14-17; 700 Older Millennials ages 18-25; 300 Gen Xers; 300 Boomers), and qualitative studies (in-home ethnographies/friendship groups, online nationwide qualitative including Instagram Journals, Diaries, etc., older sibling focus groups and expert interviews).