Rude Students May Belong To Generation Me

Does it seem like the traditional (18-22) students showing up at your college or university are behaving more rudely than past generations of students? If you said yes it’s not necessarily an indicator that you are getting more crotchety. It appears there really is some truth to the notion that incoming students are more rude than past generations. But some new sociological studies suggest the students’ rude behavior isn’t intentional. Rather, they are simply exhibiting a more isolated form of behavior in which they are oblivious to adults like you. A new book documents the phenonmenon, and explains some of the reasons. What are some of these significant behavioral changes?:

  • Living in a technology dominated world, with social lives that are revealed online, the new generation has a different concept of privacy and personal boundaries.
  • Making a good impression means far less to them.
  • Exhibiting rude behavior, such as listening to an mp3 player or playing a video game while others are present, is thought to be part of living in a technology bubble.

    You may recall the “Me Generation.” This late seventies – early eighties phenomenon spawned a generation with an egocentric life perspective characterized by a materialistic lifestyle. Today’s “Generation Me” is quite different. Generation Me has access to ubiquitous technology, and can always be in touch with peers even though they are isolated in their own technology bubble. Think of students who maintain contact with friends primarily through IM or social networks while alone in their room. So what can we do to better connect with Generation Me? What are good strategies to use the next time students are text messaging during your instruction session? Start by taking a look at this article that introduces some of the issues. It may be an issue that will take an organized effort on a campus geared towards developing more civility and community. Perhaps the best thing is for academic librarians to understand this phenomenon, realize that there’s more to uncivil behavior than meets the eye, and to work with academic colleagues to develop programming that will encourage students to emerge from their technology bubble.

  • 11 thoughts on “Rude Students May Belong To Generation Me

    1. Pingback: Library Important
    2. Perhaps this is why Cornell found it necessary to outline the importance of managing your online identity in its “Thoughts on Facebook” (recently posted at CHE):

      http://www.cit.cornell.edu/policy/memos/facebook.html

      All that said, I think there is also plenty of evidence that, in general, American society is becoming increasingly lacking in civility, and that we are increasingly, as Robert Putnam put it, “bowling alone.”

      Perhaps his next study will be called “Bowling Alone While Wearing Earbuds”.

    3. In the long run I think Facebook and the others will move toward making it easier for people to take down information they have posted as the so-called Me Generation (I’m sorry but name one generation that didn’t have an “egocentric life perspective characterized by a materialistic lifestyle”) figures out that they actually do want some privacy. In the meantime librarians should make it as simple as possible for users to opt out and to later on delete their personal information from any Library 2.0 applications. Despite what some IT people say, the desire for privacy has not gone away for good, it is merely in hibernation for the moment.

    4. I suspect average family size has more to do with it than technology. When you start life as one of X number of children sharing a bathroom you learn very different rules of negotiation.

      What is interesting to me is that while individuality and self-expression and personal choice is big in social networking, so is collecting friends (or rather collecting points for getting attention). Me seems inevitably linked with “look at me.” It’s as if marketing has so permeated the zeitgeist of our era that it has become everyone’s job. It’s not all that different than the unpleasant side of high school, it’s just gone global. And when you act out your selfhood on MySpace, its easy to forget it’s really RupertMurdochSpace.

      But hey, why do we call this reckless exhibitionism a youth thing? We’ve let credit card companies poke through our undie drawers for years! We (well, speaking for my far from 18-22-year-old self) have lacked the very circumspection and caution that we’re berating youth for. And the jerks yacking loudly on cell phone in public places are just as likely to be wearing suits as jeans.

    5. I am a 20 year old student in college studying Advertising/Public Relations, and Spanish. I agree that there is not a better term to describe my generation. However; what do you expect? When we have cell phones, computers with facebook, Instant messenger, myspace, etc. it makes it very difficult to resist, it’s so easy to keep in contact with the technology that is presented to us. See, 10 years ago things weren’t so bad, but did we have the technology back then that we have now? No. If people had this kind of technology back then, they would be just like we are now, no doubt about it. Don’t blame us, it’s the older generations who are coming up with all these websites such as facebook, myspace, etc., which are the main sites that consume young student’s time. Also, look at the shows on TV, look at what we are exposed to! It’s ridiculous. Almost anything goes now on television. I don’t know what else to say but I do agree that this generation is selfish, I too am at times but it is a lifestyle that has been cut out for us, we don’t do it intentionally. And, we wouldn’t be the way we are now unless people before us started something……

    6. Wow, Brianna’s response is right in line with the Generation Me attitude: “I am not to blame for my lack of effort or failures.” Older generations have made life easier in some areas so we can do more with less and it becomes abused by doing less with more…sad. Also, many of the technologies today are actually made by those who belong to Generation Me who put some effort into using the brains God gave them and their parents/teachers nutured and the self-discipline their parents started and they CHOSE to continue and use to be successful! You have a choice, truly work hard and it will pay off or work little, blame everyone and it will work you into depression and the poor house.

    7. I have noticed, as an instructor at the college, that students have gotten increasingly rude. There may be only one or two in a class but they seem to think it is ok to talk while the instructor is talking, to swear any old time, to run out of the class and go to a higher up to complain if you let them know they are out of line…very self centered.

    8. What I am saying is that it isn’t just about technology ,MP3, IPOD, or text messaging. I am talking about an attitude or students talking while the instructor is talking, saying “I’m not taking this s….”, bolting out of the classroom door, all of which are behaviors I saw since 2006. Mostly, I love teaching and students have given me very high marks as an instructor but I notice that one or two students in each class don’t care to listen if someone else is speaking, don’t care to take responsibilty for their own learning, etc.

    9. Student’s behavior has less to do with being “plugged-in” and more to do with an “I don’t care about anything or anyone” attitude. Either parents need to return to smacking their children while they are growing up or young adults need to start understanding the concept of civility.

    10. I’m a college professor and have noticed increased rudeness from students over the last few years. Yesterday, I had to speak to one student about repeatedly leaving the classroom in the midst of the lecture (presumably to take phone calls). Another student that I spoke to was a graduate student who was text messaging in class and leaving to answer his calls. Neither student was hostile when I spoke to them, and I believe that they just did not see any problem with what they were doing. Many students are increasingly distracted in class and it shows on their performance on exams. What I see down the road in the United States is an increasing deterioration in student’s performance compared to students in other parts of the world who are taking their academic studies far more seriously. Many of my top performing students are from other countries and are getting top grades despite not being native English speakers. Their approach to academic study is markedly different and they forge linkages with faculty that serve them well when references or other support from faculty are needed. The rudeness issue also complicates study abroad programs and exchange programs especially to more traditional countries where some of the behaviors described in earlier comments will have more serious consequences that at an American university. I’ve been a study abroad leader and you would be surprised what has to be taught in an orientation class (no shorts, t-shirts, or baseball caps at professional meetings, please don’t read magazines during a company presentation) because standards of appropriate behavior are so low. Of course, not all students behave rudely, but the culture of polite and professional behavior and civil discourse is changing for the worse.

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