Let’s Face the Gen Next Facts

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With online social networking being a hot tip-of-the-tongue topic, one group in particular has embraced this use of technology and the internet to make the connection with people in new and distinctive ways.

Meet Generation Nexters.

Generation Nexters are those born between 1980-2000 (69.7 million people to date). They are those born of Boomer parents and early Xers into our current high-tech times. Although the youngest workers, they represent the most technologically adept and fast learners. Defining events with this group include school violence, multiculturalism, and TV talk shows. They value civic duty, achievement and diversity.

The NewsHour with Jim Lehr highlights Generation Nexters covering current topics, demographics and documentaries.

Social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and MyYearbook, allow members to post a personal profile complete with photos and descriptions of interests and hobbies. After some research, I’ve learned of some of the statistics of usage: A majority of Gen Nexters have used one of these social networking sites and more than four-in-ten have created a personal profile. The fact that this group embraces this new form of socializing online makes it easier for them to stay connected with their friends and family.

On a political front, Generation Nexters are somewhat more interested in keeping up with politics and national affairs than were young people a generation ago. Still, only a third says they follow what’s going on in government and public affairs “most of the time.” According to Pew surveys conducted in 2006, nearly half of young people (48 percent) identified more with the Democratic Party, while just 35 percent affiliated more with the GOP. This makes Generation Next the least Republican generation. In fact, voter turnout by this group has been the highest ever as a result of their tech-savvy abilities to stay in tune on political issues along with MTV’s hype on the importance of voting, “Rock the Vote.” Between 2000 and 2004, voter turnout among young people increased significantly interrupting a decades-long decline in turnout among the young.

As a HR professional and proud Boomer parent with a couple of Generation Nexters of my own, my concern is that we’ve become too comfortable with communication on the web and thus may allow our oral communication skills to suffer.

Will face-to-face interviews become more difficult for individuals who depend on these social networks to serve as their mainstream of communication? Will it become more difficult to find those individuals with excellent interpersonal skills? Will candidates possess the ability to be comfortable or at ease with an in-person interview or will they drop to their knees and beg for a keyboard? I hope not. I hope they will see when it is necessary to play the communication card and meet their feared enemy face-to-face.

The word has its place. Let’s hope social networking allows others to communicate and keep in touch with one another and not take a toll on our ability to communicate in person. If we’re smart, we will see its value. As an employer, telecommuting is not always an option.

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