Posted by Beth Gallaway

The YALSA Technology for Young Adults committee traditionally hosts a program at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning (okay, 8:00 AM – it’s early!) and it is ALWAYS worth getting up for.

This year, Stephen Abram, whose job title is Vice President of Innovation (how cool is that!?) and blogger extradordinaire of Stephen’s Lighthouse, presented The Kids are Alright! Millennials and their Information Behaviors to a LOT of other people who found were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and eager to hear what he had to say.

I walked in to hear him encouraging the audience to pay attention to gaming (yay!) and to read Beck & Wade’s Got Game (the paperback edition is named The Kids are Alright. Abram went on to impart characteristics of the millennial generation and show by example how they are different from Boomers and Gen X/Y. They are generally:

  • More direct (polite but assertive and demanding)
  • Smarter (IQ tests are revised and made more difficult every year; the current standard of 100 would have been genuis level when the test was first standardized) Healthier (about 8% smoke)
  • Both more liberal and conservative (multiculturally and globally aware, and patriotic and spiritual)
  • Well-balanced (able to both multitask and commune with themselves.

Some stats:
90% own a home computer
85% spend at least an hour a day online
75% have a TV in thir room (cramming 8.5 hours of television viewing into 6.5 hours, due to multitasking

In light of these facts, Abram challenged libraries to meet the youth where they are. “They live on the phone,” he said, challenging us to make our webpages be readable on small screens, to set up IM screen names and get into MySpace where our users are.

One of the most interesting things I heard was they the eyeballs of millennials move differently when reading – they skim the bottom and edges then focus on the center. And specific COLORS attract and repel -red draws attention first, neon green and orange are skimmed, and black is ignored completely. A slide on the teen brain compared activity patterns to show the shift on how the millennial’s brain is being used differently than the boomer’s brain.

Audience questions included:

  • Do you think the prevalence of cutting is due to the detachment of kids and immersion in technology? to which abram replied it’s not a technology related problem, it is more likely a response to pressure to perform and succeed placed upon youth by adults;
  • How do I get my OPAC search bar into MySpace? to which Abram recommended contacting Hennepin County, whose page he had highlighted during the presentation
  • Where can I find a poster of the image of the brain you showed, to use a tool for teachers, parents, admin to SHOW how these kids process information differently? Abram gave several sources for text posters.

All in all, well worth getting up for – watch for the PPT presentation to appear.

Please continue the discussion of Millennials right here on YALSA’s blog! Do you agree with Abram’s assertations of millennial characteristics? What other programs and services are YOU offering to meet their needs? Share your ideas via comments!

About Beth Gallaway

Beth Gallaway was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2006 for her work in advocating for videogames in libraries. She is an independent library trainer/consultant specializing in gaming, technology, and youth services, and is a YALSA certified Serving the Underserved (SUS) trainer.

2 Thoughts on “The Kids are Alright, and Stephen Abrams is great

  1. Kelly [Member] on June 27, 2006 at 10:32 am said:

    Abram’s presentation was terrific (as always) One service we’re offering for millennials at my library is an animation studio. Teens are able to drop in and animate on a regular basis with live action, claymation, or animated videos. They are also interns that teach other teens how to use the software and make videos.

  2. Kelly [Member] on June 28, 2006 at 11:55 pm said:

    I thought the talk was absolutely what many librarians need to hear about the future of technology and services in the library and I only hope that many decision-makers and/or movers and shakers were there to hear it.

    I recognized some of the mentioned millenial characteristics in myself (having been born in 1977 I guess I’m on the cusp) as well as some of my younger patrons. In particularly I do find it true that there is a directness with millennials. I suppose with so much information processing to be done we don’t have time for being passive/aggressive anymore. 🙂

    I’m not entirely certain about the assertion about the IQ since I hadn’t heard this before. I wonder if this is a product of schools focusing more on being able to think and reason rather than a reliance on rote memorization.

    In any case, I can’t wait to get the PPT and look over the material again. I really think there were many good nuggets in there that I need to think about more.

    Kelly Tyler
    Los Angeles Public Library

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