Adultolescence and KGOY – what’s at risk?
Posted On April 24, 2014
I’ve talked here fairly frequently about the trend toward extended adolescence – younger generations holding off on typical adult milestones such as getting married, having children, and even moving out of their parents’ homes. There is a flip side to this, known as KGOY (kids getting older younger), where today’s children are entering into adolescence at younger and younger ages. Nine-, ten- and eleven-year-old children are now “tweens” interested in and exhibiting more behaviors that are typically considered teenaged than child-like. With the entrance and exit of adolescence being pushed earlier and alter, adolescence itself is getting stretched. That is, younger generations – especially Millennials and the upcoming iGen – are going to spend an extended period of time in that period of boundary-pushing and self discovery that used to cover junior high through high school, maybe college.
That’s the main topic of discussion in Jaded Children, Callow Adults, a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The author points out the logic behind this trend – adolescence is “the sweet spot of youth” so it makes sense that people would want to get their faster and stay there longer – but he also recognizes the risks. Adolescence is meant to be a fleeting period, not a lifestyle. When generations embrace a period of relative immaturity (that is not a dig, we were all teens once and most of us are just grateful smart phones weren’t around back then) what does that do for their overall ability to mature? And what does that mean for businesses?
Millennials and some young Gen Xers have caused some angst that may be attributable to this trend. They are looking toward employers to take care of them, but not be too in their business. Pay for my cell plan, but don’t call me on my personal time. Tell me what I’m doing well, but don’t harp on the things I still need to learn. Sounds like your typical teen…except these kids are in their mid- to late- 20s. Add in a touch of idealism that makes them highly likely to jump ship if they feel picked on, despite a shaky hiring outlook, and you can see why business leaders need to figure out how to attract and retain this new generation of employee.