The Unique Educational Challenges of the iGeneration

Jean M. Twenge’s book iGen provides many key insights into the current generation of K-12 students. Like every generation before them, iGeners have particular strengths but are also facing unique challenges. As Twenge reflects, “Growing up slowly, raised to value safety, and frightened by the implications of income inequality, they have come to adolescence in a time when their primary social activity is staring at a small rectangular screen that can like them or reject them. The devices they hold in their hands have both extended their childhoods and isolated them from true human interaction. As a result, they are both the physically safest generation and the most mentally fragile.” 

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Twenge poses many insightful theories for how to serve a generation of students with these characteristics, but it’s now the job of educators to tap into this generation’s practical nature and eagerness for success in order to help them shed some of their fears and foster greater confidence. As Twenge suggests, curtailing their ubiquitous use of smartphones is a good place to start, but educators also need to develop generation-specific strategies to build social and emotional skills that are lacking in students born after 1995.

It may be years before we fully understand the impact that technology has had on the generation that has come of age at a time that has always known the Internet and developed communication habits only after smartphones were commonplace, but it’s not too soon to implement educational strategies that will compensate for the deficiencies of current technological dependencies. And to do this, parents and teachers need to tap into this generation’s strengths, beginning with their eagerness to work hard, accept the differences of others, and prove their abilities.


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