Today's kids aren't taking up arms against their parents; they're too busy texting them. The members of the millennial generation, ages 18 to 29, are so close to their parents that college students typically check in about 10 times a week, and they are all Facebook friends. Kids and parents dress alike, listen to the same music and fight less than previous generations, and millennials assert that older people's moral values are generally superior to their own.
Yet even more young people perceive a gap. According to a recently released Pew Research Center report, 79% of millennials say there is a major difference in the point of view of younger and older people today. Young Americans are now more educated, more diverse, more optimistic and less likely to have a job than previous generations. But it is in their use of technology that millennials see the greatest difference, starting perhaps with the fact that 83% of them sleep with their cell phones. Change now comes so strong and fast that it pulls apart even those who wish to hang together--and the future belongs to the strong of thumb.
In some respects the millennials emerge as radically conventional. Asked about their life goals, 52% say being a good parent is most important to them, followed by having a successful marriage; 59% think that the trend of more single women having children is bad for society. While more tolerant than older generations, they are still more likely to disapprove of than support the trend of unmarried couples living together. While they're more politically progressive than their elders, you could argue that their strong support for gay marriage and interracial marriage reflects their desire to extend traditional institutions as widely as possible.
They are also unconventionally conventional. They are, for example, the least officially religious of any modern generation, and fully 1 in 4 has no religious affiliation at all. On the other hand, they are just as spiritual, just as likely to believe in miracles and hell and angels as earlier generations were. They pray about as much as their elders did when they were young--all of which suggests that they have not lost faith in God, only in the institutions that claim to speak for him.
I don't know what to make of all this or the other findings reported by Gibbs, but it's interesting that there's not much distance between the beliefs and values of the young and those of their elders. As I reflect upon that fact I have to say that I really don't know whether that's good or bad.RLC