iGens: “What, me read?”

In a couple of prior posts, we featured iGen – a recent book by Jean Twenge – a psychology prof specializing in “generational research”.

She says that Millennials  are yesterday’s news.

The new generation is iGen – born after the introduction of the Internet … and now living connected to their iPhones.

See Disruptive innovation: How the iPhone has shaped a new generation
the self-diagnostic How much of an “iGen” are you? and iGens: What makes them tick?

Prof. Twenge observes that the cultural and personal impacts of the “i” technology revolution are a mixed bag – some good and some bad.

One of the “bads” hits one of my hot buttons: reading habits.

Amazon link


One behavioral trend that Prof Twenge observes is that “iGen’ers also come to college with much less experience (than prior generations) reading books or even long magazine articles.”


Some specifics re: reading habits

Textbooks: Some don’t even bother to buy them … others buy them and don’t read them.

Textbooks are perceived to be outdated when they’re printed (compared to what’s online) and go into too much detail on too many topics … some of which are perceived to be irrelevant.


Articles: One prof observes: “I’ve had students complain that I’m making them read too much, that an eight-page popular press newspaper article is somehow too lengthy and can’t keep their attention,”


Internet: Hit & miss browsing is the norm … breadth, not depth … higher likelihood of reading articles endorsed by friend … looking for takeaways, not deep details.

“iGen’ers need to be taught about sources and evaluating evidence” … don’t discriminate well between legitimate and problematic sources … little idea how to test validity of research methods, survey results and analyses.


My take

The prevalent reading style among iGen’ers is more breadth than depth:

Scan rapidly … Dive deep selectively … Explore broadly as needed.

The reading style raises some obvious concerns about:

1) Superficial learning (more parroting than understanding)

2) Critical thinking (taking one persuasive argument as gospel)

3) Writing skills (breaking the inextricable link between reading & writing)



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