Bishop Robert Baron–The Least Religious Generation In U.S. History: A Reflection On Jean Twenge’s “igen”

Jean Twenge’s book iGen is one of the most fascinating—and depressing—texts I’ve read in the past decade. A professor of psychology at San Diego State University, Dr. Twenge has been, for years, studying trends among young Americans, and her most recent book focuses on the generation born between 1995 and 2012. Since this is the first cohort of young people who have never known a world without iPads and iPhones, and since these devices have remarkably shaped their consciousness and behavior, Twenge naturally enough has dubbed them the “iGen.”

One of her many eye-opening findings is that iGen’ers are growing up much more slowly than their predecessors. A baby-boomer typically got his driver’s license on his sixteenth birthday (I did); but an iGen’er is far more willing to postpone that rite of passage, waiting until her eighteenth or nineteenth year. Whereas previous generations were eager to get out of the house and find their own way, iGen’ers seem to like to stay at home with their parents and have a certain aversion to “adulting.” And Twenge argues that smartphones have undeniably turned this new generation in on itself. A remarkable number of iGen’ers would rather text their friends than go out with them and would rather watch videos at home than go to a theater with others. One of the upshots of this screen-induced introversion is a lack of social skills and another is depression.

Now there are many more insights that Dr. Twenge shares, but I was particularly interested, for obvious reasons, in her chapter on religious attitudes and behaviors among iGen’ers. In line with many other researchers, Twenge shows that the objective statistics in this area are alarming.

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Posted in Books, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Young Adults