In recent years, many societies have witnessed the demographic rise of a particular type of young person. They can often be seen taking smoke breaks in between shifts at chain coffee shops, slowly browsing the web in internet cafes, or wandering around offices looking for the printer. They are all members of the iPad Generation, and this generation lives within a paradox.
On the one hand, the majority of today’s young people are better qualified and more informed about the wider world than any of their predecessors, and are often more culturally cosmopolitan too. News reaches them instantaneously, trends pass through their lives in the blink of an eye, and their social circles include representatives of many different races and nationalities. A large number of the iPad Generation undertook some form of higher education, and state examination results have been improving for years now. The world should be their oyster.
Despite this, however, many of this generation are frankly struggling to form a life for themselves. I recently undertook a short survey of the situations of 15 British friends of mine, all aged between 25 and 30. Of these 15 young people, 80% had been privately educated, and 100% had attended university for a period of time (with 80% graduating). 60% of them attended an Oxbridge University. 73% of these young people are in work, and 82% of them work in a corporate or office-based environment. So far, so good. But…
Only 20% of them have a mortgage, and only 20% own a car. Only 13% are married, and none of them have any children. Not one between them. 40% are currently living with their parents, and this rises to 64% for those raised in the Greater London area. Not so good.
So where did it all go wrong for the iPad Generation? There are many reasons, both domestic and international, for the slump in the prospects of today’s youth. The main issue, in my opinion, is the rise of technology itself. As the population grows and the job market becomes more competitive, new technology also allows employers to do more with less staff. Those young people who don’t possess either a certain techie skill set or relevant work experience in that field are quite simply surplus to requirement. Hence the paradox: for all of the freedoms and communicative opportunities that technology has gifted to young people, this same sector is simultaneously cutting them out of the economic equation. And they don’t have the practical skills that our forebears did to fall back on.
The iPad Generation’s future threatens to be one of cultural wealth and social poverty.