As generations come and go, the United States of America has defined different groups based upon values, partialities, and traits of their time-period. Because of this, people have begun to identify themselves similarly, whether they are Baby Boomers or Millennials. Still, some people struggle with understanding this vast oasis of these generational characterizations. Learning to take in this mass of information can be challenging, but know that generational names are here to stay. Comprehending generational names really will have an impact on your one way or another.
The History of Naming Generations
Historians believe that generation naming began in the early 1900s. One of the first individuals to coin generations was the writer Gertrude Stein. She gave writers and painters of the 1920s, like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Pablo Picasso, the name “The Lost Generation”. All of these creative men left the comfortable confines of their own countries to become enlightened in the country of France. These artistic individuals were all born around 1900 and were involved in the bitter battlefields of World War I. From Stein’s phrase, others hopped on board to define different generations.
Theorists like William Strauss and Neil Howe used their 1991 research to name and identify generations in the 20th Century. This study called “Generations” named individuals who fought in World War II as the “G.I. Generation,” or the “Government Issue Generation.” The famous newscaster, Tom Brokaw, gave his name for this generation, calling them “The Greatest Generation,” which seems to carry more weight involving this time-period and conversation.
What are the 6 generations?
As one of the newest generations, Generation Z is known for heavy media consumption. It is estimated that 41% of individuals born between 1995-2015 consume at least 3 hours online per day. Most of this consumption happens on a mobile device because it was the first place they learned how to use technology on a grand scale. Most Generation Z individuals get their first cell phone by the time they turn 10-years-old. Currently, Generation Z has an age range of 4 to 24 years of age. Generation X parents and a country constantly at war shaped their very existence. They are given other names like the Homeland Generation, iGeneration, and Post-millennials. Of the United States population, they make up 25% of the people.
Generation Y, or Millennials, are known for their media consumption, which involves mainly television. Over the years, Netflix has become more of a staple for these individuals. When it comes to shopping online, statistics say that 32% of Generation Y buys on a computer over a mobile option. With multiple accounts through different social media platforms, Generation Y has a solid online presence. This generation was born between 1980 and 1994. From ages 25 up to 39, Generation Y makes up 95 million people in the United States of America. Other names for this generation include Echo Boomers, Gen We, Gen Y, and Gen Me. The events that shaped this generation include 9/11 and The Great Recession.
From 1965 to 1979, this group of individuals is categorized as Generation X. Ranging from 39 to 53-years-old, Generation X accounts for 82 million people in the United States of America. Much of Generation X’s media use comes in the form of magazines, newspapers, radio, and television, where they watch 165 hours on average per month on average. They are also quite knowledgeable when it comes to social media like Facebook. Most spend an hour per day on different social media outlets. Also known as the MTV generation or Latchkey generation, Generation X came about right after the Cold War and can feel lost between two giant generations surrounding them.
The Baby Boomers are the last generation that still has a plethora of individuals that have not perished yet. From 1944 to 1964, the Baby Boomers were born and now are between the ages of 55 to 75-years-of-age. In terms of media use, Baby Boomers are the top consumers of media like television, magazines, newspapers, and radio. Additionally, over 90% of Baby Boomers have Facebook. This generation was born either at the tail end of World War II or just after. They were also a part of the Hippie movement and at the heart of the Cold War.
The next generation, the Silent Generation, was born from 1925 to 1943. Their current age average is right around 80-years-old. Being called the Silent Generation had more to do with what their parents expected of them. As children, the Silent Generation was supposed to be quiet, respectful, and stay out of the way. With most retired at this point, only a few Silent Generation individuals work minimal hours. Even though many in this generation are technology challenged, the Silent Generation had a major impact on music, movies, and politics. It is estimated that there are still 24 million people alive who were born a part of the Silent Generation.
The last generation of the 20th Century is called the G.I. Generation, or the Greatest Generation. Born between 1900 and 1924, the G.I. Generation lived through the Great Depression, as well as many fighting in World War II. There are just over 2 million individuals left in the United States of America. A published Washington Post article recently estimated that the last G.I. Generation member will die in 2046, due to medical advances and improved life expectancy.
Why are generations named after letters?
Because the first generation to use a letter was Generation X, the alphabet soon followed. The reason why theorists used Generation X was that it helped identify a generation that had unknown characteristics. Over time, the name stuck with novelists, sociologists, and even the musician, Billy Idol. Generation Y was an easy choice, as it followed Generation X, but Generation Z may signify the end of letters for generations, just like the alphabet ends.
How do generations bank?
From generation to generation, individuals bank different, based on the period they were born. For example, Baby Boomers like to go to branches but are alright with mobile and digital transactions as well. Generation X individuals like to research their financial options online, but they prefer person-to-person transactions. This has a lot to do with loyalty for Generation X. On the other hand, Generation Y cares less about loyal banking, so they shop around and care deeply for quality customer service. They do, however, trust superior brands like Windows, Apple, and Google. Lastly, Generation Z looks to be more conservative financially, looking to stay away from debt, while looking for fantastic debit card options.
What are the next generations going to be called?
As of now, it is unknown what the next generations are going to be called, but one is starting to rise. Generation Alpha is starting to gain traction for babies born between 2016 and 2025. Currently, there are over 2 million individuals born in the parameters of Generation Alpha. Theorists are not starting over in the alphabet, but rather are looking forward to seeing this generation extend into the 22nd Century. Only time will tell if this name continues to connect with what the future has in store.