Generation Y refers to the population group in the US born from somewhere around 1976 to around 2000. They are sometimes called echo boomers because some of them are the children of baby boomers. On the other hand, some Generation Y children, especially those born in the late 1980s or afterwards, may be the grandchildren of baby boomers. Other names for this group are the Millennials, the Internet Generation, and the abbreviated Gen Y or Gen Yers.
There are some vagaries in defining Generation Y, as it can encompass two generations. A child born in 1976, probably to a true baby boomer, could easily have a child born in 1996, 20 years later. There’s no official consensus on the beginning or end term of Generation Y, and the term may be considered as a pejorative one, just as the term Generation X is sometimes used in a negative sense. Echo boomer may be inaccurate too, since the real rise in birth rates that defines many boomers having babies is much more limited. This increase in birthrates, approaching levels of the last years of the baby boom is defined as between 1989-1993, a much smaller span than that which defines Gen Y.
All population groups tend to be tarred with generalizations, some accurate, and some completely missing the mark. This particular group has been called rude, retributive, and prone to childhood obesity and drug and alcohol abuse. While certainly a few Generation Y kids may have these issues, it’s a gross misconception to suggest this is true of all kids in this 24-year span. It would also be premature to make conclusive statements about this generation, since its youngest members are just now reaching their preteen years.
What can be said about this group that is in no way pejorative is that they are the first group to come to age just as the Internet began to completely flower. They are thus familiar, usually from childhood, with not only Internet surfing, but also all the gadgets that have come along with it. Cellphones, electronic organizers, cable radio, hundreds of television stations, and many more things folks born before this period would consider novelties are just the basic staples of existence for a Generation Y kid or young adult.
For this reason, advertisers to the Gen Y group specifically target this audience and see them as valuable current consumers or soon to be consumers. As a market, this group can have significant impact on spending, since 76 million people fall into the Gen Y category. Other trends that Generation Y seems to have impacted are things like the PG-13 rating, something that has only existed in the past few years. Film manufacturers often strive for the PG-13 rating, because to do so means they’ll attract the Gen Y audience, who are for the most part avid moviegoers and consistent spenders at the movies.
When Generation Y people are viewed in a negative light, this seems to be a reflection on the fact that they’ll comprise a significant amount of the workforce just as the last baby boomers hit the retirement age of 65. If Social Security stays in place, Gen Yers will be the ones paying into the system. With fewer people actually retiring at this age, conflict between the last baby boomers and Gen Y folks may certainly arise over competition for jobs. Concern may also exist about leaving the country in the hands of a group for which many negative generalizations exist.