Everyone talks about the differences between today’s generation and past generations. According to Webster Dictionary, a generation is a group of individuals born and living contemporaneously. We look at it as our grandparents belong to a generation, our parents belong to another generation, and we are today’s generation. Today, there are four major generations in society. The Traditionalist, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. The Traditionalists, also known as the Silent Generation are those who were born in 1925-1945. The Baby Boomers were born from 1946-1964.
Generation X babies came in to the world between the years of 1965- 1981. Generation X was also known as the Baby Busters generation. Generation Y, the college student’s generation, were born in 1982-2000. Generations are defined through common values and shared experiences. Each generation was shaped by different societal events. The Traditionalist experienced the Great Depression, the attack on Pearl Harbor, World War II, Korean War, and the invention of the radio and television The Baby Boomers generation lived through Civil Rights, Vietnam, Cold War, space travels, credit cards, and other scientific advancement.
Generation X grew up during Desert Storm and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Personal computers, working mothers, and divorce became part of everyday life. Last but not least, Generation Y was exposed to school shootings, 9/11, Iraq/Afghanistan war, and the OKC bombing. This generation was the first to use internet and social networking daily. These events formed the generations, making each one very different. Family life and structure has taken a drastic change over the past 75 years. Families are an essential part of everyone’s life, and should have the biggest impact on the way children develop and mature into an adult.
There is not a traditional family anymore. In past generations, family was defined as a mother, father, and their children in a household. This has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. People used to only marry people of their own race, ethnicity, and religion. With the diverse world we live in, those marriages and families are not the only ones out there. Interracial couples and families are everywhere. A family is no longer able to be defined a certain way. Divorce rates, cohabitation, gay or lesbian parents, and children being born out of wedlock has increased dramatically.
People are also getting married later and having fewer kids with their spouse. These lifestyles move far away from the ideal of the companion marriage from the 1920s and has shifted to self-aspiration, freedom, and different types of relationships. Not only has the physical appearance of a family changed, but the roles of each family member. In traditional families, the father worked and supplied a large amount of the family income. The mother was the homemaker and stayed home with the children. Since the 1960s, women have become more financially independent, which in return can cause conflict in some households.
Divorce has also become part of everyday life. In the past, divorce was unheard of. Once a couple was married, they were married for a lifetime. Divorce affects everyone in the family. Children suffer the most harm. Children who experience divorce are likely to undergo hard times in school and in their social life. These kids loose trust for everyone in their lives because of the separation of the people they trusted the most. In 2001, adult children who had divorced parents were twice as likely to have a divorce compared to those children who grew up with their parents together.
The nuclear family is not the only type that has been change. In past generations, the extended family was around to raise all the children. Aunts and uncles lived across the street and grandma was just down the road. These days, grandparents and aunts and uncles can live halfway across the country or even the world. Some children never meet their grandparents or other family members. The structures of families have changed a lot over the years, which has had a large impact on the world we live in today. Another aspect of our lives that has changed over generations is the way humans communicate with each other.
White the Traditionalist and the Baby Boomers were growing up they had to handwrite letters and cards to communicate with each other, which could take weeks to get a response. Passing letters to friends in class was the highlight of a child’s day. Landline and pay phones were they only phones available to most people. There was no caller I. D. or answering machines to leave a message for a missed call. Today, all we have to do is pick up our cell phone and call someone, and if they do not answer just leave a simple message. It is so easy to talk to people in this day and time.
These changes in communication are mainly due to the fact that communication is almost completely done through technology. Cell phones, computers, and social networking are part of everyday life today, but it has not always been that way. There are positive and negative sides to technology being used to communicate with people daily. On the positive side, people are able to communicate with each other within minutes. Instead of hand written letters there is email and instant messaging. These process save people a lot of time and money. Many people do not even have to have a computer to communicate through email and instant messaging.
The cell phones that are being produced today are basically mini handheld computers. Most of these gadgets can do anything a computer can do. Social networking has also played a huge role in communicating over the past years. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and many others are used by people all over the world. These sites also give old friends a chance to meet up again. These advancements have made communicating with one another easier, quicker, and most of the time more interesting. Of course there is a negative side to the technology break through. Many would say that society has become impersonal.
Emotions someone is feeling cannot be expressed through an instant message, email or text message. Past generations would say that technological communication has made the younger generation forget how to speak correctly and use complete sentences. While emailing, instant messaging, or texting a friend young people will use a lot of slang words and bad grammar, because it is easier and faster. Using this language while talking to friends becomes a habit and they will start using it in everyday conversation. People have become addicted to these advancements which can interfere with personal time with family and friends.
Technology is around and will be for the rest of time, but it should not take the place of personal face-to-face communication. Education has undergone major change over generations. The role of education is people’s life these days is a lot more significant than it used to be. In past generations, anyone could work anywhere even if they had no experience. Some did not have any level of education. Men and women not finishing high school was not out of the ordinary. Women were known not to finish high school Going to college was not a normal activity people participated in.
In the 1960s, higher education was only available to a privileged few in society. Even upper secondary school was not an option to young people in many countries. Access to education has expanded to the point where most people in first world countries are enrolled in some type of schooling above primary and secondary education school. In today’s society, most people elementary school, middle school, high school, and many go on to college. One in three people young adults have tertiary degrees, and in more privileged societies almost half of the population will attain a degree.
Across these countries, the percent of people with at least an upper secondary education has risen from 45% to 81%. Even the Traditionalist and Baby Boomers, who did not have a change to attend or complete higher education during their young adult hood, have been able to go back during adulthood and get these degrees. Even those who cannot afford higher education straight out of their pocket are able to find other ways to pay for the expenses. Scholarships and financial aid from the government are given out to people so that they will be able to better their lives through a college degree.
In the job market today, education is important to be able to attain a job. Once people realized the relationship between educational attainment and human capital, many humans decided to receive a higher education degree. Obviously someone with a college degree is going to get a job over someone with just a high school degree. The job market is so competitive in today’s society, which makes a higher education of some sort almost necessary. Change over generations is obvious every day. Every generation is looked at for positive and negative aspects of their lives. Each generation has different lifestyles and look at life differently.
From the food, dress, music, and even activities for fun every generation has something different. The world events that took place during the childhood and young adulthood of all four generations have a large impact on the way they act and think. The attire, work environment, motivators, mentors, retention, clients, education, technology, and family lifestyles have all changed over the years. Families are made up of all different generations which makes every family unique within the family. Generations will continue to come and go and leave different impacts on the world we all call home.