Meet the Mosaics, the Emerging Generation Dr. Michael England Professor of Education
Meet the Mosaics, the Emerging Generation In society today, there are five generations that coexist. These generations are: The Seniors , also called Traditionalists or Matures , (born in 1926 or earlier) The Builders , (1927-1945) The Baby Boomers (1946-1964) The Baby Busters , also called Generation X , (1965-1983) The Mosaics , also known as Millennials , Generation Y , Echo Boom , or Generation Next , (born 1984-2002).
Why are You Called Mosaics? Eclectic Lifestyles: Teens experiment with many activities, making their lifestyles more multifaceted and more stressful than ever. Nonlinear Thinking Styles: Rather than using logic and rationality, teens embrace contradictions and process information in a flexible, adaptable manner.
Fluid Relationships: Teen friendships are in a constant state of flux; their heroes and role models change regularly; their network of peers is extraordinarily diverse ethnically; and many experience an up-and-down family life. Cut-and-Paste Values and Personalized Spirituality: Most teens embrace moral pragmatism (that is, “ whatever works ”) and customized spirituality, drawing on many sources to decide ethical dilemmas and to determine spiritual meaning.
Open-Minded Attitudes: Teens are not particularly dogmatic about their views and they give others space to chart their own paths — the same space they want for themselves. Technology-Fueled Expectations: The Internet and mobile devices like cell phones drive teenagers’ information use and much of their connectivity. The Internet in particular represents an ever-changing and broad-ranging collage of input that fuels much of the nonlinear expectations of teens.
Mosaic Lifestyles Mosaics are often characterized as a confident, optimistic, and upbeat generation, especially when compared to the disillusioned, cynical perspectives of Baby Busters. Mosaics are also more interested in developing a meaningful career and getting a solid education. One of the non-negotiables of Mosaic lifestyles is their desire for fresh and stimulating experiences, well beyond the appetites of Baby Busters.
The Mosaic drive for experiential living is fueled by their yearning to be vitally connected to others and to their culture — and to get as much enjoyment out of their lives as possible. Mosaics are in constant search for relevant and fresh means of self-expression. A large majority of teens (71%) have established online profiles (including those on social networking sites such as MySpace, Friendster and Xanga), up from 61% in 2006.
Despite Mosaics’ optimism and can-do attitude, there are many contradictions about their lives. They believe they are likely to succeed in life, but they admit feeling unprepared for the future. They feel confident and self-assured, but they are facing more life stress and being pressured to mature faster than previous generations. Most consider themselves deeply spiritual, but few are pursuing depth beyond attending church. 75% percent say they are searching for life purpose, but half believe the main purpose of life is enjoyment.
Mosaics and Media A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that the typical Mosaic spends 8 ½ hours each day using various media, including television, radio, music, print resources, computers, the Internet, and video games. That time is compressed into about 6 ½ hours since they often use more than one media at once (for example, listening to music and spending time online). Teens today are spending more than an hour more every day consuming media than teenagers did just 5 years ago.
Mosaics fit comfortably online; it is a dynamic, adaptable environment where they feel they can be themselves, where they can have some degree of control, and where they can interact with friends. Mosaics value control, multisensory experiences, nonlinear input, and dynamic relationships — all in a personalized, when-you-want-it package. In other words, technology and media energize their eclectic lifestyles and their nonlinear thinking styles.
Mosaic Relationships The new shape of Mosaics’ peer relationships — relational tribes. These tribes are typically groups of three to six peers (though a tribe can be much larger) who function as the nerve center for a teenager’s life. On a personal level, teens derive from their tribe such things as their identities, heroes, sense of right and wrong, and way of viewing and interacting with the world. For Mosaics, ideas have little personal relevance until they have had a chance to bounce those concepts around their tribe a few times.
There are intense pressures on Mosaics to perform, to balance deftly a wide range of activities and priorities, and to make sense of the deluge of information, media, and opportunities available to them. So, the tribe creates a miniature ecosystem that brings order, stability, and sensibility to an otherwise chaotic world. Along with exhibiting greater diversity of gender, lifestyles, and ethnicity, the typical tribe also undergoes frequent changes in its core relationships. Mosaics add and subtract peers from their tribe with regularity. This leads to an important insight about teen culture: “Teen power brokers” — the popular teenagers who traditionally wield robust influence over their peers — are less prominent.
Mosaics are less concerned with what popular people are doing because they insulate themselves from peer expectations by maintaining equal footing in their tribe. But the tribal culture of Mosaics softens the power of the traditional brokers, like “jocks,” “brains,” and “babes.”
Mosaic Morality Mosaics are widely embracing moral pragmatism — the “whatever works” method grounded in postmodern philosophy. “ There is no absolute truth.” “ What is right for you may not be right for me.” “ I do what I think is best, not what anyone else thinks is best.” “ You are the only one who can determine what is right and what is wrong.”
When teens face moral or ethical decisions, most decide what to do based on what feels right or comfortable in the situation; what will produce the most positive outcome for them, personally; what will make the most people happy or create the least conflict; what they think their friends or family expect; or what they believe most other people would do. In all, 76 percent of teenagers say this is the primary way they make such decisions.
The “whatever works” philosophy infiltrates every dimension of moral decision making — whether or not to cheat, to view online porn, to experiment with drugs and alcohol, or to have sex. In all, 53 percent of born-again teenagers admit to at least one of those four at-risk behaviors in the last 3 months , compared to 59 percent of unbelievers.
Mosaics and Spirituality Mosaics consider spirituality to be a significant dimension of personal maturity. The vast majority — 86 percent — identify themselves as Christian. However, serious, committed believers are hard to find among teen ranks. Only 33 percent of teens are born again — and only half of those say they are absolutely committed to the Christian faith. Only 4 percent of teens are evangelical, meaning they have made a profession of faith in Christ, a confession of personal sins, and have embraced core orthodox beliefs.
82 percent of teens said they have seen spiritual or supernatural themes addressed in movies, television, books, or music, as recently as the last few months. Teens have little proactive feedback from parents or church leaders about how they are to understand the supernatural world. Despite Mosaics’ widespread participation in churches, only 1 out of every 5 teenagers recall any church teaching in the last year that helped to shape their views about the supernatural.
Today's teenagers have a higher likelihood of participating in the life of a local church than adults do, yet we also found that they're not coming to the church for a religious experience per se. They're coming for a relational experience with their tribe - that's the group of anywhere from a half dozen to a dozen people who are their closest friends. The key thing in the lives of Mosaics is experiences, and they want to share those experiences with people they know and trust. So, if their tribe meets at the church, maybe they have a spiritual experience, maybe not. It doesn't matter because ultimately they're doing it for relational purposes.
A very small proportion of the Mosaics intend to be or to remain part of a Christian church. So, they're not looking at the church as something that's going to represent a foundation in their life when they start to call their own shots, living independent of their parents, on their own in the marketplace. They're thinking, The church is ok now because it gives me another place to meet with my friends, but I'm not necessarily convinced that it has anything of value for my life in the future .
Americans ages 13 to 18 spend more than 72 hours a week using electronic media -- the Internet, cell phones, television, music and video games, says a new study by the Harrison Group. So much technology makes teens feel they are playing a "starring role in their own reality TV show." Teen Facts More than half of teens say they own and play Sony's PlayStation 2, and one-third said they own an original Microsoft Xbox game console. But as many as three quarters reported playing video games on a regular basis. ... The average male teenager eats about five times a day, and the average female four times a day More than a third (35 percent) of all teen girls (ages 13 to 19) say they often skip meals because they are too busy, 22 percent skip meals as a way of dieting and 21 percent admit that they sometimes binge after skipping meals.
Every day in the United States alone, approximately 3,000 kids under the age of 18 start smoking. Teens represent 6.4 percent of all licensed drivers, but account for 18 percent of all police-reported crashes and 14 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes. In the next twenty four hours, 1,439 Teens will attempt suicide. Mosaics are less likely than any other generation to volunteer time to their church (12% of Mosaics report volunteering). Conversely, 23% of Busters, 29% of Boomers, 34% of Elders (Builders and Seniors) have volunteered at a church in the past week. Mosaics are the least likely age group to indicate that faith is a very important part of their life. Only 51% of Mosaics say their faith is very important in their life, compared with 62% of Busters, 73% of Boomers and 79% of Elders.
Compared to 60% of Elders who have a "quiet time" during the week, 54% of Boomers, 39% of Busters and 35% of Mosaics do the same. Teens readily post personal info online. 64% post photos or videos of themselves, while more than half (58%) post info about where they live. Females are far more likely than male teens to post personal photos or videos of themselves (70% vs. 58%). Students were asked to estimate the total number of text messages they send and receive daily. The number ranged from five per day to one busy student who guessed at 3,000. The average number appears to be from 35 to 40 messages per day.
What Can We Look Forward To? If the Mosaic generation can prevent being courted by big business and decide now to work hard to succeed in life, then they will positively impact the world. If the Mosaics receive support from the generations of the past, it will be certain that they will be given the resources, relationships, and mentoring necessary to carry the world to the next level.
Relationships being so crucial to you, the Mosaics need a strong support system through parents, teachers, and youth workers. If you receive encouragement to succeed, then your mindset will be in that direction of living well. The Mosaics must keep to the absolute truths put forth by those in the past, and keep striving for excellence in the future. The good thing is that “as the next generation leaders they are visionaries.
The path put in front of you is narrow. But it is imperative that the path is maintained, not traded for less valuable, worldly gains. You must not pander to the ways of those seeking control over you, but must be true to yourselves and your God when making choices .
It is anticipated that a vast majority of the you, the Mosaics, who will share the commitment to excellence in life and in decisions, but it will require the spreading of the truth. You are the future , and your goal should be to change the world .
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