iGen: Teaching the Smartphone Generation

Traditional-age college students are now iGen (born after 1995), the first generation to spend their adolescence with smartphones. iGen’ers spend more time online and less time with each other in person, are growing up more slowly as adolescents, and are more extrinsically and less intrinsically motivated. These differences necessitate new strategies for reaching them as learners, and an awareness of how generational differences affect non-traditional age online learners in both positive and negative ways.

With this new group of young people growing into adulthood, we all need to understand them: Friends and family need to look out for them; businesses must figure out how to recruit them and sell to them; colleges and universities must know how to educate, guide them, and identify how these strategies can apply to all types of learners.

As we learn to understand this new generation, perhaps we can all learn more about ourselves. Because where iGen goes, so goes our nation—and the world.

Jean M. Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, is the author of more than 140 scientific publications and the books iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood, Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled — and More Miserable Than Ever Before and The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (co-authored with W. Keith Campbell). Dr. Twenge frequently gives talks and seminars on teaching and working with today’s young generation based on a dataset of 11 million young people. Her audiences have included college faculty and staff, high school teachers, military personnel, camp directors, and corporate executives. Her research has been covered in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, USA Today, U.S. News and World Report, and The Washington Post, and she has been featured on Today, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Fox and Friends, NBC Nightly News, Dateline NBC, and National Public Radio. She holds a BA and MA from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.