Today's Kids Are Being Called Out as Lazy & Materialistic

clockBig news for moms this week. A new study says today's young people are "more materialistic" and less likely to work and study hard than any generation of kids before them. Moms! Could we be raising the lazy generation?

That's what a study published this week in the in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin says. The researchers claim "youth materialism" is at "historically high levels." And just wait till you hear what this could do to the job market.

The study out of San Diego State University claims that Gen Y or Generation Me, as today's teens are called, have a high desire for "material rewards," but they lack to a "willingness to do the work usually required to earn them."

It's a blow for moms who are working hard to raise kids who will be upstanding citizens and productive members of society. So is it true?

Here's what the web has to say about Generation Y:

In a piece titled the Go-Nowhere Generation, the New York Times contends young people today are just too sedentary:

According to the Pew Research Center, the proportion of young adults living at home nearly doubled between 1980 and 2008, before the Great Recession hit. Even bicycle sales are lower now than they were in 2000. Today’s generation is literally going nowhere.

And to make matters worse, the New York Times Magazine contends kids are pushing back the "five milestones" that mark the transition to adulthood:

We’re in the thick of what one sociologist calls “the changing timetable for adulthood.”

But according to Karen Foster, a sociologist and a Banting Post-Doctoral fellow at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia (where she is conducting a study on the concept of productivity in economic and political discourse) you have to look deeper to understand today's young people:

It turns out that 20- and 30-somethings are looking for more than just a job. They want work that is meaningful and consistent with their socially and environmentally responsible values. They’re disaffected, to be sure, but that disaffection conceals a drive toward more caring, compassionate relationships and away from materialism.

Michael Greenstone, chief economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers in 2009 and 2010, says you can't blame today's young people for everything because the economy plays a role too:

Children are not earning as much as their parents, and I think we’re laying the seeds for that to continue into the future

Do you feel like young people today are lazy? Do you blame their parents?


Image via lett -/\=/Flickr

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mande... manderspanders

Um, yes and yes. Didn't need a study to figure that out. Look at the world around you, the ENTITLEMENT mentality abounds. I am 31 and don't identify at all with the so called Gen Y-ers....I fit better with the gen x-ers...I worked hard, went to college, have a great job making 60k/yr that I like doing and am doing overall better than my parents were at my age. It's time to quit blaming the economy and supposed different values. If you want a good life, go out and create your opportunities and work hard -sacrifices ARE REQUIRED. Today's kids don't get it, aren't pushed for it, and see all to happy to use the excuses that their parents give them, and to use their parents as crutches.

nonmember avatar Kevin

^^ Oh put a sock in it. You're lucky. Plenty of people have worked their butts off and have advanced degrees and have nothing to show for it but thousands of dollars in college debt and a job slinging mochas at Starbucks. Get off your high horse.

Also, comments like these have been made about every single new generation of young adults since time immemorial. They used to say this about The boomers said it about gen-x, the "greatest" said it about those damn hippie boomers, etc etc

bella... bellacazzate

I think it's relative, too. For instance, my parents were in a totally different boat than I am. They owned a house at my age (30); I've not needed to buy one due to my job. I make far less money, but have much more education (master's and professional certificates vs their BAs). Though I make less money, the intrinsic benefits have far outweighed anything else. Though I may not own a house, my company pays for my apartment/utilities, so I pocket my entire salary and really only need groceries... of course my money goes to travel and lifestyle. Though my earnings are lower, my savings are astronomical. Their goals were different, too. Mine are more selfish; theirs were more familial. 

I have sacrificed and I work very hard, but in a very nontraditional way. I live far away from my family and move every year or so to a new international/sometimes national location, but it's been worth it. 

Opportunities abound, but they're not the same as they once were. Though I agree with the premise of this article and study, it's important to note that this has been a common belief about the younger generations for the past 100-150 years in America. The studies have primarily been the same, too, but current trends, politics, economy, technology etc influence the result of the outcome and what we take away from it. 

stara... starandseen

Every generation says the next generation is worse than them. This study is nothing new. Our parents thought the same thing of us. Now we think the same thing of our children. How ironic that the reason for this is because parents want their children to have easier lives. They want their children to have more than they did.

fleur... fleurdelys3110

I guess this explains why liberalism and the Democratic Party are so popular among young adults and teens! Party of the lazy and entitled.

Bloom... Bloomie79

Yes because never before have the young been associated with liberalism and the Democratic Party! Any excuse to bash the other side right?

hello... hellokd87

I agree, i see a lot of kids at the mall, movies, going to eat (and this even counts towards friends of mine, too) who were spending their parents money. I wasn't just given things, I had to work for them. This generation (even people from my own) want to be given more for doing less. At my age, my parents were married, had a house & i was in kindergarten. Young adults nowadays are putting off getting married, having kids & buying a house because of some sense of "losing freedom" once you hit those milestones & its completely selfish. I also think this applies to single parenthood, because in some cases its two people saying "I" don't want to get married because "I" just want a child with this person, whether or not we're married, without even thinking of the kind of familial structure the child would grow up in.

nonmember avatar Ero

I agree with you hellokd, I work in a mall and they have their hand on a coffee and their phones in a free phone that costs more than mine. I hate the 16 year old generation in some parts cause they don't regard anything as good. But some of the generation y is awesome; I know a 16 year old author, and another one that is obsessed with the beatles. These females are appalled at the others in their own generation.

I suggest we take away their stuff (for example no phone that has internet or photos unless it's a weekend), and give it back only on weekends.

bella... bellacazzate

I'm so glad we have two anthropologists on this thread. I was unaware that coffee, phones, photos, eating out, and being at the mall = entitled and that writing and being obsessed with The Beatles = not. 

Absolutely enlightening. 


nonmember avatar K

First of all, I don't know how previous commenters know that teens are at the mall spending their parents' money. How can you even tell it's not money they worked for themselves? Now to the crux of my post: it's also very dependant on the area you grew up. I'm in my early twenties. I was raised in a city with the top teen pregnancy rates in the state and very high rates of poverty. All of the young people I graduated with are hard workers, 99% of us are the first of our families to graduate high school and go on to college. Most of us didn't get allowances (a lot of my peers barely had money for school supplies), and some of us were tasked with helping to raise brothers and sisters or working to provide a single parent with more income. Yes, there are a few younger teens I know that have their parents buying them iphones and ipads, but those are the serious minority. When I hear this 'gen x' stuff I'm always shocked. I was raised in a world that was very different from the one described in studies like these. It's really sad to read these studies and the comments from readers. Please don't put all of us into the group of selfish young people, because to those in my area that's the harshest thing you could think of us. There are plenty of us who exist that work hard for everything we have and respect our elders.

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