Take a chill pill!!! OMG!!! That’s Awesomeness!!! Today, my daughter is not only speaking a parallel language created by her generation, but also living on her own terms. Don’t get me wrong. As a parent, I am still the key influencer in her life, but she has found innumerable ways of getting my husband and I to do exactly what she wants and when. She also looks up to her school teachers, who have had a deep positive impact on her life. But, I have come to realise that her personality and life choices are being shaped by so many factors that are beyond my control. Here are a few glaring traits that set this generation apart:
Friends are the extended family: Friends have become her new epicentre for approval and social belonging. Her self-esteem seems linked to the peer group dynamics and her standing with them. Friends’ model behaviour and often set unwritten norms are followed almost blindly within the group. If they say she is cool, then SHE IS COOL!
More experimental. Challenging the beaten path: Kids are trying newer options in all spheres of their lives. From hobbies, food, fashion, careers, gadgets; their quest for the unconventional is never-ending. Hence, new-age vocations such as film-making, photography, chef, etc., are becoming the order of the day.
Uber confidence on the outside, vulnerable within: Kids often face the dichotomy of portraying themselves as very confident on the outside and yet they might nurture a very vulnerable and insecure self image. For instance, my daughter is constantly chasing a desired image, which she lives through her choice of brands, fashion trends, hangouts, set of friends, etc. She is forever under pressure to gain approval from people in her close circle of influence.
24x7 exposure to media (TV, films, Internet, mobile, iPod, PS2, iPad, social media): There are many instances when I have been pleasantly (and sometimes rudely) surprised by kids’ level of knowledge. Be it current affairs or gossip, my daughter seems to know it all thanks to continuous exposure to media. Being more informed influences all spheres of their life from fashion, food, homework research, entertainment, lingo, icons and even extends to the way they nurture relationships.
Technologically savvy, but a social loner: It feels like she was born tech-savvy. At age five, she knew how to use my phone and at age six, she was already playing computer games. At age 10, she wants a Blackberry! I have come to realise that this phenomenon has little to do with SEC classification. My maid’s kid is just as savvy. Tech is in their blood! However, access to gadgets is driving them into a private world sans physical interaction. This, in turn, is influencing interpersonal relationships with parents, peers, etc.
Competitive pressure: It’s tough being a kid in today’s performance-driven world. Being merely ‘average’ is seemingly unacceptable. The world demands that kids have a cutting edge instinct to win. Kids are taking these pressure cues not just from parents, grandparents, teachers and peers, but also from being bombarded with messages from media and advertising… Tayari Jeet Ki! Darr ke Aagey Jeet Hai! Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar!
Materialistic generation: The yardstick of success today is substantial money for an aspirational lifestyle. The urgency to earn a quick buck is driving kids to be more ambitious and cut-throat. The urge to push the limit is even more tempting. Hence, many life choices such as education, profession, hobbies, etc., are driven by their propensity to facilitate the desired aspirational lifestyle.
It’s truly an art to keep pace with this ever-evolving Gen Y. But it is these young minds who become our windows to the ever-changing world and help us keep pace with constant change.
So folks, buckle up, learn the art and join them!
(Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Executive Vice-President & GM, Nickelodeon India.)