Communicating with Gen-M 03

The Personality of Generation M

The Wired Life: The Public and Private Spheres of the Gen M Community is written by Karen J. Klapperstuck and Amy J. Kearns. The article evaluates statistical observations of how middle school and high school students spend their time while not in school. They assert that members of Generation M spend six to eight hours every day using two or more media simultaneously.  They have not stopped using old media such as television or broadcast music. They have added to those media the Internet and cell phone texting (111). Multi-tasking multi-media is part of the personality of Gen M. This constant connection makes privacy less important to individuals. Their privacy removed, other liberties, enjoyed by previous generations have also been removed affecting their personality.

D’Angelo notes that when members of Generation M were children, they were the first to be riding their bicycles illegally if they were riding without helmets. Their entrance into school led them through metal detectors. She goes on to assert that no previous generation was as confident as this and that they consider a positive self image is a right. They do work well in groups. In a new way, they value the opinion of the group while valuing less their own privacy. For the first time in history, adolescents broadcast their teenage anxieties to the entire world, via their smart phones on social networking sites (97).

This global broadcast of personal feelings is significant in that their personal lives are no longer private. A positive aspect of this privacy being removed is that the self-consciousness involved in shyness is also removed. Removing the apprehension of publicizing their thoughts benefits the rest our society in that their creative thinking is more accessible to the world. The downside of this can be that thoughts are all over the place, disorganized and non-factual. Still a member of Generation M is a great person to have on a team creatively troubleshooting problems because they are not embarrassed to throw their ideas out in the open.

There is another disadvantage for the Generation M individual divulging his personal life globally. Cyber bullying is a danger that, in contrast to face to face bullying, the victim cannot escape danger by going home.

Sharing feelings with a support group is not new in this Generation. Generation X and the Baby Boomers and earlier generations have realized the benefit in disclosing life’s struggles and victories. However, members of Generation M are able to share feelings about their experiences instantly, and globally. Their sphere of caring friends is a much wider support group than older generations enjoyed. The benefit they realize, disclosing their struggles, is greater than previous generations in that there is a more diverse, extensive, instant feedback from the support group. Currently this benefit is greater than the risk of cyber bullying, as was indicated by the popularity of My Space and now Facebook and Twitter. In general, the Generation M personality embraces the advantage it has over older generation’s personality.

Multi-tasking Productivity


It would seem that a person able to multi-task multiple media six to eight hours every day would get a lot done. However, the productivity may have not reached its full potential because of the media that are tasked simultaneously. Most students are working on a computer while listening to music or watching TV or they alternate media while on the computer. “What needs to be learned as parents and educators is that activity should not be mistaken as achievement” (D’Angelo 104).

The author goes on to say that their apparent mastery of multi-tasking may actually be sequential processing. The student isn’t listening and computing simultaneously. It is likely he or she is “ignoring” and computing simultaneously. The prefrontal cortex part of the brain, where multi-tasking is accomplished is the last part of the brain to develop. Younger students are not processing information simultaneously. Studying for a math exam and writing a book report for example are impossible because of the interference between the two tasks. It is worth saying that some competition of thought processes helps improve concentration, but too much deters from the primary task the brain is trying to do (104).

Even though it may seem that multiple media pumping information at the same time is a large quantity of information for a student to take in, the reality is that some, if not most, of the onslaught of information is discarded in favor of the singular task at hand. However, the people of Generation M are comfortable with the onslaught. However, they are probably tasking sequentially, ignoring the less important the less important media. They are not actually multi-tasking, as Klapperstuck and Kearns assert, taking in information from multiple media simultaneously for six to eight hours a day (111).

While taking in multiple media, sequentially tasking their productivity, he or she produces the minimum to get by. Later it will be shown that most high school students that drop out do so because they are bored or because they felt the lack of challenge is a waste of their time. This is not different than drop outs in Generation X or the Baby Boomers. What is different from the previous generations is that Generation M drop outs are getting B’s and C’s and are for the most part less than two years from graduation. In earlier generations, students that left high school were held back in earlier grades, so they were older when they dropped out. Also, they had difficulty passing their classes (Happel). So in the midst of the oversupply of information given to them, it seems that Generation M is less productive because they choose to be.

Next: The Problem Defining Gen M Competence in Education


Works cited.

D’Angelo, Michele Kathleen. “Gen M: Whose Kids Are They Anyway?” Teaching Generation M: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators. Eds. Vibiana Bowman Cvetkovic and Robert J. Lackie. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2009. 97-108.

Happel, Tiffany. “New Report Illuminates America’s ‘Silent’ Dropout Epidemic.” Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 2 March 2006. Gates Foundation. 2 Oct. 2010.

Klapperstuck, Karen J., and Amy J. Kearns. “The Wired Life: The Public and Private Spheres of the Gen M Community.” Teaching Generation M: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators. Eds. Vibiana Bowman Cvetkovic and Robert J. Lackie. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2009. 111-124.

Communicating with Gen-M 02

Who is Gen M?

The stereotype of a Gen M person is that he or she is a technologically astute, constantly connected, quick to learn person, ready to incorporate the latest technological gadgets or sciences into his or her work ethic and lifestyle. But stereotypes can be misleading.

Mark Bauerlein has written a book entitled, The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future – Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30. In the introduction he admits someone sympathetic to the cultural predicament young people experience may dub him pessimistic, and is articulating a repeated “curmudgeonly riff:”

Older people have complained forever about the derelictions of youth, and the ‘old fogy’ tag puts them on the defensive. Perhaps, though, it is a healthy process in the life story of humanity for older generations to berate the younger, for young and old to relate in a vigorous competitive dialectic, with the energy and optimism of youth vying against the wisdom and realism of elders in a fruitful check of one another’s worst tendencies. (7)

Throughout history there have been stories of generational differences. Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, who lived from 1835 to 1910, said of the generation gap. “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” Generational differences have been around for a while.

The goal of this blog is not to repeat the curmudgeonly riff of generational difference, but to foster multichannel communication across the generation gap. This communication could help Generation M move toward responsible, productive, self actualized adulthood. As Bauerlein points out, the potential advantages of the cantankerous dialogue could be fruitful. However, if the dialogue cannot occur because of the difficulty in communication, we miss out on the potential represented by “the energy and optimism of the young.”

Alright, So Who Is Gen M, Really?

The generation gap is something that has always been with us. The dialogue between the new generation and the old generation has always been productive. To discover what is different about Generation M and previous generations, consider their demography, personalities and productivity. Consider how their personality is different from the Baby Boomers or Generation X. Another factor that makes them different is their productivity.


Anyone who is young enough to be in their late twenties and old enough to be in middle school, could be considered a member of Generation M. Also known as Generation Y and the Net Generation, for the purposes of this writing, a person born between 1980 and 2000 will be referred to as a member of Generation M. The “M” can stand for any of the following words: millennial; media; multitasking; mobile; multisensory; or me. “Many factors differentiate members of Gen M from their predecessors. One of the most significant is that they are the first generation raised in an era of personal and real-time global information sharing” (Lackie, LeMasney, and Pierce 3).

Next: The Gen M Personality and Productivity

Works cited

Bauerlein, Mark. The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future – Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30. New York: Penguin Group, 2008.

Lackie, Robert J., John W. LeMasney, and Kathleen M. Pierce. “The Myths, Realities, and Practicalities of Working with Gen M.” Teaching Generation M: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators. Eds. Vibiana Bowman Cvetkovic and Robert J. Lackie. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2009. 3-14.

Communicating with Gen-M 01

How can older generations help Generation M move toward responsible, productive, self actualized adulthood?

Generation M, or individuals born in technologically advanced societies after nineteen-eighty-five, has constant access to the fastest multimedia communication in history. Further, Generation M is disadvantaged in its ability to function productively within the context of the way older generations function. What if we merge these two assumptions into one productive plan to help members of Generation M move toward responsible adulthood? Older generations expect members of Generation M to acclimate to their way of working, educating, and socializing. Generation M does not know the need to acclimate.

Professional and educational experts are diligently investigating a way to bridge the gap between Gen M and older people. That bridge is composed of a richer, more meaningful communication which may involve synchronized use of multiple media. Meaningful communication is not a new goal for the improved social functioning of a particular population. What is new is the lightening speed communication and media availability presented to Generation M. Members of Gen M have been given a gift. The culmination of technology as we know it has been placed at their fingertips, available for their work, education and socialization needs. However, studies show that their ability to realize the full utilization of this wonderful technology is shallow at best. The resulting exhortation is that everyone born before nineteen-eighty-five should communicate with those born after nineteen-eighty-five within the context of their technologically saturated world. This communication will probably involve using two or more channels of media simultaneously.

How can someone who is over twenty-five (whoopee!) use multiple channels of media (blah, blah, blah) to communicate with someone under twenty-five? Is it as simple (pow!) as the fight scenes (biff!) that (kaboom!) Batman and Robin played out when baby-boomers were kids?
I think so.

Next: Identifying (cla-click) Generation-M

Trials of an Enrollment Guy! Enrollment Management Part 1

“The plumber’s pipes don’t always get fixed even by the plumber”

This blog is going to be an on-going post about my 16 year old son (soon to be 17) who is very intelligent (top 10 in his class), rising senior in high school (rural area of upstate South Carolina), baseball player, social media lover, southern boy who loves to be outside in the woods, water and wild.

I am a 40-ish year old Dad of two boys and the husband of a wife that still rules the roost even with 3 guys! I have spent most of all my working life in higher education enrollment with a brief hiatus (5 years) into corporate sales.  Now my life consists of visiting, consulting with colleges and universities across the south. In the mean time, I get to sit behind the computer screen and try to keep up with what is happening with this younger generation we are all trying to stay up with.

My sonGetting Motivated – When will it ever happen?

First I want you to know, even the best students are not thinking about 2 years from now, not even 1 year from now… they can only think about today and maybe what is going on this weekend. Getting an individual high school student motivated to look at college can be challenging. In all my experiences, a prospective student should have visited 5-7 schools in their junior year and should be going into the summer with plans to visit a few more so they are ready when it comes to applying for admission in September.

Well, in my case we have visited two schools, sort of—if you count going to Samford University (which laid out the Samford red carpet for him) a visit,  we met lots of super nice folks and were scheduled to take a tour, but at the last minute he decided he would rather do a self guided tour. Students can be finicky so be prepared for that. It is always good to have self guided tours on paper and maybe on downloadable app for families like mine.

The other visit so far was great! The U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT(hardest academy to gain admission to – no congressional appointments) this visit went wonderful, we experienced the information session, the campus tour and spent bonus time on campus just exploring all the buildings and campus after the formal program. So word to the wise, prospective students are out there exploring more than just what you show on the tour.  They will see the good and bad—like residence halls and buildings that have deferred maintenance.

Many of his friends have visited very few schools as juniors, we as colleges have to make a huge deal of why it is so important for students and their families should visit earlier. This will extend the time we have to make more impressions on the prospective and his/her family.

Picture 057Second, how do we (dad aka Plumber, parents, colleges) motivate students to start looking at colleges earlier?

My college experience was so different.  My mother bought the huge thick guide books and we poured through them for hours (actually she did for hours, I spent a few) looking at schools with my major and wrestling team. Today, we must get our students to sit down first, and do the profile matches on Petersons, or College Board to see the schools that might fit.

Colleges, have you ever thought about a section on your webpage that is a quick 5 question on what major fits you best?  This could be a tool to engage and prompt those undecided to spend more time on your site and explore their opportunities. Something to think about!

Well, I have not been able to get him to sit down long enough to do the profile match but it is on the “to do” list. This is the start, so if you advertise your school at least in your state alone, that is a place to get noticed.  Most students start with the question of “am I going to stay in state or go out of state?”  Free tip…

We have performed at least one task correctly, visited the local college fair twice. We were even prepared with cards to hand out that had our contact info, academics, etc on it. So that has started the process quite well.  We have been receiving mail and electronic mail from several schools periodically… Gardner-Webb and Winthrop come to mind that have done the best with staying in touch timely.

IMG-20120713-00478Many have dumped a large amount of information at one time and he seems to look at it once and then sets it aside for later, when that later comes I want to know. As a parent I enjoy seeing the mail come in and how he reacts to it.  Many things don’t even get opened… many times I ask “what is wrong with this school or why don’t you open this one?” I get “I never heard of this one or I am not interested in going that far away.”

Now, this guy has heard of a lot of schools because as we travel. I am always talking about what schools are where and tid bits about them. So what do we as marketers do to get them motivated to open, read and respond? We have to peek their interest—Photos, phrases of words, questions, teasers… things to think about.

                The next post will be about – how do you get noticed…

Back to fixing my pipes!

Please leave any comments or questions you have for the father of a 17-year-old and an enrollment professional.

Read Trials of an Enrollment Guy! Enrollment Management Part 2 and Trials of an Enrollment Guy! Enrollment Management Part 3 here.