Bland Australian youth growing up as the ‘info-besity generation’

where have all the rebels goneAustralian youths are growing up insipid and shallow, passively using technology to keep up with what is going on without getting deeply involved in anything, a new study suggests.

The research, carried out by youth-focused media owner Sound Alliance – suggested that the average young Aussie looks up to their parents and dreams of little more than a home, a nice job and a holiday to somewhere safe like New York or Europe.

The study covered 1,908 young Australians. The kind of words that were most used by those surveyed to describe their own lives were “respectful” and “planned”.

The way they are consuming media is also changing, with social media reducing the impact of major world events on people’s lives.

Sound Alliance creative director Stig Richards told a breakfast event in Sydney today: “I think we are seeing something we have never seen before. In the past families would gather around the TV, share stories, share information, office workers would spend time in the lunchroom discussing the events of the night before – key issues like war, famine, recession. These would occupy the media and people’s minds for sustained periods. These events shaped our opinons, our ideas and even our ideals.

“Now, major events still happen – you take the Japanese tsunami or the Boston bombing of a few days ago. But the hierarchy has been lost. The news on the TV, in newspapers, radio is sequential, it has hierarchy it is in order of importance. Everything they receive is coming though the same channel and is sharing the same amount of time and space in their total media.”

“People are suffering form info-besity. They are constantly snacking on LOLcats, on Psy on The Harlem Shake while similarly nibbling on Syria or tsunamis or European austerity and Australian politics.

“Nowadays we get this veneer of superficial detail no matter how unimportant and it’s changing the way we think and how we interact with others. “Now essentially the key to changing your mind is refreshing your feed.

“Technology used to be a domain of early adopters. Now usability has improved so much. Now technology is simple, but keeping up with the information flow is the hard part.”

He said that in other parts of the world, technology had played a part in The Arab Spring, or the Occupy movement, but was having the opposite effect locally. “Young people in Australia are in a gilded cage. They are in a generally stable economy. They’ve got an ineffective government, a dull opposition, banks that actually have money in them and nothing much to worry about.

“While not all of that is bad, Australian youth, you could say they are trapped but the door is wide open. They choose not to leave. There’s nothing to break away from. They are comfortable wiht the status quo. They have nothing to rebel against. That has an effect on their thinking.”

The survey also signalled a new milestone, with 53% of respondents saying they get their information from social media rather than newspapers or TV.

He added: “The amount of what in the past might have been serious news is now coming through Facebook . It’s now the aggregator of the majority of their infromation. It’s a subjectively curated window on the world.”

“Ninety three per cent of people are using Facebook every day. It’s not  a fad, there’s no next thing. It’s too ingrained in people’s behaviour. it’s become the way they access most of their information.

Sound Alliance’s content director Tim Duggan told the audience Aussie youths are showing little sign of wanting to take the baton from the older generations. He said: “They are not going to fight for their right to party. They are a little bit less Jersey Shore, a little more Home And Away.

“We’ve raised them to be happy and they are. We’ve almost done our job too well.

“This generation is living a mild life.

They’ve got lots of interests, more than ever before, but there’s no depth.

“Everyone knows 140 characters or less about a lot of topics.”

  • Richards will present highlights from the Where Have All The rebels Gone? research at the  Mumbrella360 conference in June

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