iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – And Completely Unprepared For Adulthood by Jean Twenge, PhD

How This Book Benefits Modern Parents

As a child psychologist who writes about Modern Parenting issues and helps kids and families in a private practice in Southern California, I constantly encounter kids who are struggling due to the problems brought about by too much “screen time.” Most Modern Parents know there needs to be a balance between time using tech and time interacting in the real world. This book is written by an expert in the field of generational research, and she provides an eye-opening view of how our Modern Kids think and feel – and most importantly, how Modern Parents need to parent them.

Do I recommend this book? YES!

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My Notes/Thoughts About The Book

This is my book summary of iGen by Jean Twenge. My notes are informal and often contain quotes from the book as well as my own thoughts. This summary also includes key lessons and important passages from the book.

  • “according to a fall 2015 marketing survey, two out of three US teens owned an iPhone”

  • “You have to have an iPhone,” said a 17-year-old interviewed in the social media exposé American Girls. “It’s like Apple has a monopoly on adolescence.”


  • “The average teen checks her phone more than eighty times a day”


  • “The i in iGen represents the individualism its members take for granted, a broad trend that grounds their bedrock sense of equality as well as their rejection of traditional social rules”


  • “Contrary to the prevalent idea that children are growing up faster than previous generations did, iGen’ers are growing up more slowly: 18-year-olds now act like 15-year-olds used to, and 13-year-olds like 10-year-olds”


  • “I’ve identified ten important trends shaping iGen’ers and, ultimately, all of us: In No Hurry (the extension of childhood into adolescence), Internet (how much time they are really spending on their phones—and what that has replaced), In person no more (the decline in in-person social interaction), Insecure (the sharp rise in mental health issues), Irreligious (the decline in religion), Insulated but not intrinsic (the interest in safety and the decline in civic involvement), Income insecurity (new attitudes toward work), Indefinite (new attitudes toward sex, relationships, and children), Inclusive (acceptance, equality, and free speech debates), and Independent (their political views)”


  • “Today’s teens follow a slow life strategy, common in times and places where families have fewer children and cultivate each child longer and more intensely. That’s a good description of our current culture in the United States, when the average family has two children, kids can start playing organized sports at 3, and preparing for college seems to begin in elementary school. Compare that to a fast life strategy, where families are larger and parents focus on subsistence rather than quality”


  • “An approach called life history theory provides some insights. Life history theory argues that how fast teens grow up depends on where and when they are raised. In more academic parlance, developmental speed is an adaptation to a cultural context”


  • “Matthew typifies an iGen trend: though nearly all Boomer high school students had their driver’s license by spring of their senior year, by 2015 only 72% did. That means more than one out of four iGen’ers do not have a driver’s license by the time they graduate from high school”


  • “The most consistent decline appears among suburban teens—suggesting that the downslide has more to do with Mom and Dad driving Junior around”


  • “But in 2015, for the first time, the majority of 10th graders did not drive at all—not even on a learner’s permit. The decline in driving appears across all regions, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic classes”


  • “In a 2015 poll, 71% of adults said they would not allow a child to go to the park alone, but 59% of adults over age 30 said they did so when they were kids themselves”


  • “These aren’t large shifts, but the direction of the trend is surprising because more mothers in the 2010s worked full-time than in the 1990s. Given that, more teens—not fewer—should be spending time alone after school”


  • “Whether through after-school programs or some other mechanism, parents have arranged for fewer 14-, 15-, and 16-year-old teens to be at home by themselves in the afternoon. Thus teens are not just less likely to go out without their parents; they are also less likely to be at home without their parents.”


  • “iGen is less likely to have that experience. The decline in the percentage of teens working is considerable: in the late 1970s, only 22% of high school seniors didn’t work for pay at all during the school year, but by the early 2010s, twice as many (44%) didn’t”


  • “Fewer teens work during the summer as well: in 1980, 70% had a summer job, which sank to 43% in the 2010s”


  • “Maybe teens don’t have jobs anymore—and don’t go out as much anymore—because they are devoting more time to homework and extracurricular activities”


  • “Time spent on student clubs and on sports/exercise as 12th graders changed little over time”


  • “What about time spent on homework? As it turns out, iGen 8th, 10th, and 12th graders actually spent less time on homework than GenX teens did in the early 1990s, and high school seniors headed for four-year colleges spent about the same amount of time”


  • “The trends in this total are clear: iGen teens are spending less time on homework, paid work, volunteering, and extracurriculars combined, not more”


  • “fewer iGen’ers get an allowance”


  • “It’s hard to say whether this parental control of funds is the parents’ or the teens’ idea”


  • “fewer and fewer drink alcohol. Nearly 40% of iGen high school seniors in 2016 had never tried alcohol at all, and the number of 8th graders who have tried alcohol has been cut nearly in half”


  • “In the early 1990s, the average 8th grader had already tried alcohol, but by 2014 the average 10th grader had not. That means most iGen teens are putting off trying alcohol until the spring of 10th grade or later; they are growing more slowly into the adult activity of drinking alcohol”


  • “Childhood has lengthened, with teens treated more like children, less independent and more protected by parents than they once were”


  • “Adolescence is now an extension of childhood rather than the beginning of adulthood.”


  • “Around the world, young adults grow up more slowly in individualistic countries than collectivistic ones. And as American culture has grown more individualistic from 1965 to the present, young adults have taken longer and longer to enter adult work and family roles”


  • “There’s another factor, too—several well-publicized studies of brain development have shown that the frontal cortex, the brain area responsible for judgment and decision making, does not complete its development until age 25. This has spawned the idea that teens are not quite ready to grow up and thus need more protection for a longer time”


  • “Interestingly, the interpretation of these studies seems to ignore a fundamental truth of brain research: that the brain changes based on experience”


  • “iGen teens fight less with their parents; the number who had a serious fight with their parents more than three times a year fell from 66% in 2005 to 56% in 2015”


  • “A recent study found that iGen college students (vs. students in the 1980s and 1990s) scored markedly higher on a measure of “maturity fears.” iGen’ers were more likely to agree “I wish that I could return to the security of childhood” and “The happiest time in life is when you are a child”


  • “In a 2013 poll, 85% of 8- to-14-year-olds agreed “I like being my age,” up from 75% in 2003”


  • “In other words, as children they could live in a cocoon, with all of the fun but little of the work. Their parents made childhood a wonderful place with lots of praise, an emphasis on fun, and few responsibilities”


  • “This creates a logical question: If teens are working less, spending less time on homework, going out less, and drinking less, what are they doing? For a generation called iGen, the answer is obvious: look no further than the smartphones in their hands”


  • “iGen high school seniors spent an average of 2¼ hours a day texting on their cell phones, about 2 hours a day on the Internet, 1½ hours a day on electronic gaming, and about a half hour on video chat in the most recent survey. That totals to six hours a day with new media—and that’s just during their leisure time”


  • “Eighth graders, still in middle school, were not far behind, spending 1½ hours a day texting, 1½ hours a day online, 1½ hours a day gaming, and about half an hour on video chat—a total of 5 hours a day with new media”


  • “Considering that teens spend about seventeen hours a day in school, sleeping, and on homework and school activities, nearly all of their leisure hours are now spent with new media. The hour and a half that’s left is used up by TV, which teens watch about two hours a day”


  • “Teens watched about an hour a day less TV in 2015 than in the early 1990s”


  • “That means iGen’ers were seeing their friends in person an hour less a day than GenX’ers and early Millennials did”

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