Report

Millennials: They're Younger – But Their Preferences Aren't That Different

  • January 07, 2010

As might be expected, members of the Millennial generation are enthusiastic about the technological and communication advances of the past decade. They are also highly accepting of societal changes such as the greater availability of green products and more racial and ethnic diversity. What may be less expected is that, in many cases, they are not much different from the age groups that precede them. And on at least one issue – the advent of reality TV shows – their views differ not at all from those of the oldest Americans.

recent survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that most Americans, young and old, offer a gloomy assessment of the past decade. Still, not all of the changes Americans have experienced in recent years are seen in a negative light. In particular, innovations in cell phones, email and online shopping are seen as changes for the better by most Americans with positive views reaching well beyond the youngest Millennial generation. These kinds of change are viewed at least as favorably by Americans in their 30s and 40s as they are by those in their late-teens and 20s and, in many cases, it is only those 65 and older who have less enthusiastic views of these innovations.

More than seven-in-ten (72%) among those in the 18-29 age group – the so-called Millennials – say that high-tech communications devices such as Blackberrys and iPhones represent a change for the better. More than six-in-ten (62%) of those ages 30-49 agree. Not surprisingly, smaller percentages of those in the 50-64 age bracket (51%) and those ages 65 and older (33%) see the advances in smart phone technology that way. For the public as a whole, 56% say these handheld devices are a change for the better, a quarter see them as a change for the worse and 12% say they have made no difference.

While social networking sites are seen as especially popular among the young, Millennials are no more likely than the 30-49 age group (45% each) to say that websites such as Facebook represent a change for the better. The numbers for the public as a whole indicate greater ambivalence: 35% of Americans say these sites are a change for the better, 21% say they are a change for the worse and 31% say they have made no difference. Older people express greater skepticism. Among those ages 50-64, 25% say this is a change for the better, while 33% say it is a change for the worse. Among those ages 65 and older, 21% say social networking sites are a change for the better, 21% say they are a change for the worse and 27% say they have made no difference. About three-in-ten (31%) did not give an answer.

Read the full report Millennials: They're Younger – But Their Preferences Aren't That Different on the Pew Research Center's Web site.