Kids today: dissecting the mindset of the next generation

It’s not like it was when we were kids. Things change–and that means that Generation Z and Generation Alpha enter adulthood in a world that’s different than the world of our upbringing. These altered circumstances affect the mindset of the younger generations. They view and interact with the world differently than we do–and that can create conflict.

So, in this episode we seek to build some understanding by taking a look at the Marist Mindset List for the Class of 2024. This list provides a glimpse of the experiences and formative events of a younger generation. Let’s take a fun look at the next generation. Maybe we’ll understand our kids a little better.

Episode 2.10: Kids Today!

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Episode Transcript:

  1. This is the Bad-Ass Dad Pod.
    1. Where we quest to live our best lives relationally, physically and financially no matter what age we are.
    2. Welcome to the squad, fellow bad ass!
  1. This episode, we’re diving into the mindset of our kids.
    • How is their world different from the world we encountered as kids?
    • We’re going to use the Marist Mindset List for the Class of 2024 to get a step inside the minds of our young ‘uns… and how their world experience differs from our’s.
  2. I’ll be your tour guide through this experience
    1. My name is Ryan Dunn
    2. I am the questor of dad jokes
    3. the prince of plyometrics
    4. The Money Miser of Old Hickory
    5. a Level 6 Relationship Ranger
    6. A Level 7 Gym Warrior
    7. A level 3 debt mage
    8. And your lawful good podmaster.
  3. I was born in 1975.
    1. Graduated high school in 1994.
      1. The year of the Tonya Harding-influenced attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan
      2. The year in which South Africa held its first multi-racial elections… resulting in Nelson Mandela becoming the country’s president.
      3. OJ Simpson had his famous slow-mo, white Bronco car chase in 1994
      4. NAFTA went into effect
      5. The word’s first satellite TV service began.
      6. Netscape Navigator was the leading web browser… there was no Google…. And most of us did not have consistent access to the internet.
      7. Big movies were Forrest Gump, Dumb and Dumber, Pulp Fiction, and Speed… all timeless, am I right?
      8. Biggest music hits included I’ll Make Love to You by Boyz II Men, Fantastic Voyage by Coolio, Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden, Hold My Hand by Hootie and the Blowfish, Madonna’s I’ll Remember, and Closer by Nine Inch Nails. Green Day released their debut album Dookie
    2. That stuff probably isn’t super relevant.
      1. It was just a lot of fun for me to pull that info up.
      2. Well, and that’s the world into which I entered adulthood.
    3. But, I’ll tell you what… I think some of the technological details might help to frame things a bit.
      1. For example, 1994 was the first year I had access to email.
      2. We didn’t really have online gaming in those days.
        1. Instead, we did LAN parties.
        2. So my friends would run a physical cable from one computer to another in order to shoot at each other in Doom–the first popular first-person shooter game.
        3. But most of the time, we just played each other on our Sega Genesis’s
        4. Or Super Nintendos
      3. Cell phones were for the rich.
        1. And, by that, I mean the super rich.
        2. For example, when I entered college, I didn’t know of a single student who owned a cell phone.
        3. Well, check that. I may have known one or two. But they generally kept their phones in the trunks of their cars… and they were to be used for emergencies only.
        4. Nobody was walking around with these things in their pockets.
        5. We still had corded wall phones in our dorm rooms.
      4. And I realize that makes me sound really miserly and old… so let’s start talking about the younger generation, shall we?
  4. According to Marist’s Mindset List
    1. And this is an annual list generated by Marist College to describe the incoming freshman class
    2. According to them, the artists and designers of the class of 2024 will explore race relations beyond Black Lives Matter in order to dive nto a deepr understanding of how Whiteness has shaped bias and culture in America.
      1. Whiteness hasn’t been a word for many of us for most of our lives.
      2. The null curriculum for people of my age, when it came to race relations, was color blindness.
        1. Which is really just a denial of racial issues.
        2. Actually, it’s a whitewashing–and I mean that in a racial way.
        3. Because it leads to white cultural exceptionalism… which I believe is the most common form of racism present today.
        4. Like, most people don’t have a problem with people of color for their appearance–they instead harbor prejudices against people who don’t sound or act white.
        5. And…ummm. I certainly have been guilty of that.
      3. So I rejoice that our younger generation is addressing the whitewashed mentality. 
      4. And that they’re willing to celebrate a more diverse vision for the nation.
    3. This next generation has always been connected through mobile smart devices.
      1. So they rely primarily on those devices for shopping, for inter wellness-centered consumer experiences, and for engaging in the social good.
      2. And, of course, the events of the past year have certainly heightened those reliances.
      3. It’s likely that this generation will look to digitally engage first in activities that people of my generation assumed could only be done through face-to-face interaction.
        1. Like, for example, doctor visits. 
        2. It’s likely that an online consultation will be normative for this generation prior to an in-person visit.
        3. Though it’s something of a novelty to someone of my age.
      4. Working out is moving in that direction, too.
        1. A community workout experience used to involve showing up to a room, with a dozen other people, and sweating together.
        2. Products like Peloton and the mirror work out thingy’s (good grief… I think I’m aging 5 years just by doing this episode) FITNESS MIRRORS–that’s what they’re technically called–those whack-a-madoodles are making digitally-focused fitness activities much more accessible, and this generation may look to those experiences first.
      5. Faith is undergoing a big change in this generation.
        1. For most of us, the center point of the faith experience is some kind of communal worship experience, right?
        2. For Christians, for example, the church life is generally centered on the Sunday morning worship event.
        3. But such large gatherings are not going to be a high priority for this generation.
        4. They will engage digitally first.
        5. And to them, digital engagement is valid.
        6. Virtual experience is increasingly valid experience… meaning that it’s not a proxy for real life experience… it is real life engagement.
    4. Here’s an interesting set of factoids.
      1. During my childhood, I witnessed the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of a democratic then increasingly dictatorial Russia.
      2. For the class of 2024, Vladimir Putin has always been the leader of Russia.
      3. Additonally, Tayyip Erdogan has alway been leader of Turkey and the US military has alway been involved in Afghanistan.
      4. Also, most of this graduating class was born after September 11. 
        1. So they can’t participate in the “I remember where I was when the attacks happened” discussion.
        2. I remember where I was!
          1. I was driving to job at United Airlines.
          2. I was listening to the coverage and immediately made a mental jump that the newscasters were recounting some event that happened a long time ago.
          3. It took me a good hour to process that these events were happening in real time.
          4. Kind of a weird experience in cognitive dissonance there.
        3. ANYWAYS, the US has always been post 9/11 US for the class of 2024.
    5. The class of 2024 are willing to pay for their privacy.
      1. What a jump in worldview that is.
      2. My generation jumped onto MySpace, blogger and then Facebook in order to get noticed.
      3. This generation is willing to pay in order to go unnoticed.
      4. For them, privacy is a commodity.
      5. So the default setting in their worldview is that marketers and researchers are going to get your shopping and surfing behaviors and some of your personal information.
      6. It is necessary to pay in order to limit that information.
      7. Gosh, we probably should do an episode on privacy practices… I feel a little under-prepared for this aspect of the world… and there comes another 5 years onto my age.
      8. Let’s move on, shall we…
    6. Banned books are an artifact to the class of 2024.
      1. BUT, Harry Potter has been banned somewhere in America for their entire liftimes.
      2. That’s nuts. 
      3. Who’s banning Harry Potter?
      4. I feel like that is such a normative part of our culture.
      5. But, I’ll tell you, when I first entered into professional youth ministry back in the early 2000’s, the big hot topic was whether or not we should allow our kids to read Harry Potter books
      6. Pretty sure we were massively over reacting on that front.
      7. I have yet to meet a person who turned away towards devil worship due the influence of Harry Potter.
      8. ANYWAYS…
    7. Get ready for this one: the need for Personal Protection Equipment will drive fashion trends for the younger generation.
      1. So get ready, because personal coverings are becoming a functional part of regular clothing items
      2. And we’re going to see a lot more self expression in functional PPE items.
      3. We see that a bit now with what people put on their masks.
      4. There’s going to be a lot more.
      5. Do you think masks are going to be a permanent thing?
      6. I’ve been wondering about that. 
      7. In some places masks are fairly normative.
      8. Could happen in the States, right?
    8. Diversity in literature has been a focus for their educational experiences.
      1. Can’t say that was the point in my rearing.
      2. I think my educators focused on exposing us to old classics
      3. There was lots of Shakespeare, some Homer, I remember the Great Gatsby, Great Expectations… Lots of white men.
      4. These students have had an educational experience where books were chosen because they offered alternative viewpoints.
        1. So they read Marie Lu, Tomi Adeyemi, Madeline L’Engle
      5. Additonally, they have been encouraged to be more interactive with the texts.
        1. What I mean by that is that in my educational experience, we ready the books.
        2. In their educational experiences they read the books, then provide commentary in online forums like Reddit and GoodReads.
        3. They are encouraged to have a much more personal experience with the text.
    9. Another key difference from generation to this next one.
      1. Our biggest threats throughout my childhood were communism and nuclear war.
      2. Today, this generation feels the greatest threats are international pandemic and global warming
      3. And they are way more informed about the threats to them then we were about the threats of our childhood.
      4. Let’s be honest, we had a ½ hour window through which to get world news each day.
      5. This generation has grown up in a world of 24-hour access to worldwide news, from cross-cultural perspectives.
      6. Pretty nuts, yeah?
  5. Here’s one thing that hasn’t changed, though: Michael Jordan is the GOAT.
    1. Thanks to the ESPN Doc “The Last Dance”
    2. And the way COVID held us all captive… without live sports… we had ample opportunity to relive the 90s and witness the awesomeness of MJ and the Phil Jackon-led Bulls dynasty of the 90’s.
    3. On a related note, when I graduated from the University of Iowa in 1998, a kid named Tom Brady was taking over the quarterback position at the University of Michigan.
    4. And I hear he’s been pretty good, too.
  6. Yeah, so just a worldview dive on this episode of the BAD Pod.
    1. Super-informative for me to research.
    2. Hope it was slightly informative for you to listen to.
    3. If so, hit the subscribe button! We’ve got all kinds of useful stuff here on the Bad Ass Dad Pod.
    4. AND, more information for living in the best way possible relationally, physically and financially over at
    5. And if you want to take the next step, search Facebook for the Bad dash Ass Dad Squad.
    6. We’d love to have you sharing your worldview in that forum.
    7. Until we meet again, I’m Ryan Dunn
    8. You’ve been awesome.
    9. OK bye.

Published by RyanDunn

Ryan Dunn has a bunch of certificates on his desk. A few are awards for content production and marketing. Another marks his ordination as a minister. One says he’s earned a BA in English from the University of Iowa. The certificate next to that says he earned an MA in Christian Practice from Duke (with honors!). Ryan is most proud, though, of the things he’s created: The Compass Podcast, some deep content on, a series of practical spiritual advice videos, a long-lasting marriage, and fantastic little boy. (He enjoyed A LOT of help on all of those projects, especially the last two.)

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