Just when you thought it is safe to go back to work, a 2009 study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, and which was set to explore the use of media by young people (age 8 to 18 – born between 1991 – 2001) has found out (amongst other things) that:

  1. Young people were found to devote an average of seven hours and 38 minutes to daily media use (an increase of 20% from an earlier study conducted in 2004 – in which it was found that the time spent on media use was 6 hours and 21 minutes).
  2. The level of multi-tasking (i.e a combined use of varying modes of media simultaneously [for example, watching the TV, while at the same time browsing the net and sending a text message]) has increased from 26% in 2004 to 29% in 2009.

imageI’ve mentioned in an earlier post a 2008 study by Accenture that made the observation that people who were born between 1977 and 1997 (i.e. people who would be today at the age of 13 to 23 – corresponding roughly with Generation Y) expect their schools and employers to respect their IT preferences, including their computers and applications and that students and employees in the above age group would show a preference to use instant messaging, text messaging, and RSS feeds to communicate with their peers, clients and customers. The study further found that over a quarter of the employees surveyed use technology that is unsupported and unsanctioned by their employer. Amongst Gen Y employees, almost half reported that they use social networks, blogs, vlogs, or Twitter without having their IT departments’ approval.

The Kaiser Family Foundation’s study provide further reasons for concerns in Corporate HR and recruitment departments. The trend reported on in the Accenture report seems to be intensified with a generation, that is yet to enter the workforce, who’s time management attitude are or particular concern.

On one hand there will be the issue of over dependency on media, including the constant need to use social media tools in order to keep in touch with and keep track of family and friends. There is also an increased probability that there will be an increase in the unauthorized use of social media.

On the other hand, the over reliance on multi-tasking, the productivity impact of which has now been well and truly understood as having negative influence on corporate and project performances.

The trends shown in recent studies are not a real concern and should not be used as reasons to be alarmed. What they do however, is raise the awareness that the appropriate training and policies will need to be put in place in order to ensure that once this generation joins the workplace, they are able to be integrated in the smoothest and painless way possible. Project Managers who are on the recruitment path will need to be aware of the generational attitudes of this generation (fondly called Generation M2 – as in ‘Multi-Media) while they make their HR decisions.

On a lighter note, this is what Mike Melanson from ReadWriteWeb.com had to say about this issue:

“With teens spending more time with media in a week than the average person does at a full-time day job, we can only wonder what this next generation will look like as they enter the work force.

Oh wait, are they called “bloggers”?

Have a great week.

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