March 12, 2014

What would you name today’s youngest generation of Americans?

Pew Research Center’s Paul Taylor appeared on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” to discuss his new book, The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown. The conversation included the following exchange about the youngest Americans:

Stewart: “Is there a generation beneath the Millennials? Is there another one?”

Taylor: “If you can name the generation beneath the Millennials, I will take you out to lunch, because usually it’s magazine cover writers who figure that out.”

Stewart: “You just opened up a contest, my friend.”

Taylor went on to explain that generations typically span about 20 years, so the oldest Millennials, now 33, may not have much in common with today’s very youngest Americans. “I’m thinking the 12-year-old out there is somebody different,” he said.

Some marketers and experts have attempted to name this post-millennial generation. Suggestions include Digital Natives, Generation Like and the Selfie Generation, emphasizing this generation’s deep connection to technology; the Rainbow Generation, a nod to their diversity; and Homelanders or the 9/11 Generation, tributes to how the 9/11 attacks and war on terrorism shaped their early lives.

The Pew Research Center hasn’t yet adopted any of these names. Amanda Lenhart, director of our teens and technology research, says that’s because, with the oldest of this group being young adolescents, their identities are still forming: “Their critical formative moment or moments may not yet have happened. It’s really too early to tell exactly which of the many forces acting upon them will be the most broadly applicable and impactful. It’s too soon to know what will really shape them.”

These reservations didn’t stop Jon Stewart from making his own suggestion of “The Coke Generation.” And while that may run into trademark issues, we’ve received a few others since the interview aired Monday night from folks eager for a lunch with Taylor:

TwoKays or 2K’s: “Since they are born after 2000 … Y2K?”

The Conflict Generation: “They have grown up with two big wars and many little ones. They are witness to the ‘Arab Spring,’ the rise of ethnic factions.”

Generation i, iGeners, iGens: Submitted with the disclaimer “I am not a journalist.”

@generation or the swipe generation: “Thought of that as I watched my son use his iPad.”

The Tweennials: “We are in the ‘tweens’ of this century after all.”

Screeners: “My students live and die by the screen.”

What would you name this post-millennial generation? Leave a comment below or Tweet your suggestion with #nextamerica.

Topics: Generations and Age

  1. Photo of Andrea Caumont

    is the social media editor at Pew Research Center.