I live outside Boston, a bastion of liberal attitudes and progressive thought. The reputation I like to think we have for inclusion and even-handedness has been battered recently by a spate of hate speech among teens. Some of these instances have happened at some of our most respected schools. At Boston Latin, the oldest school in America and one of the city's most competitive, black students have been told to go back to Africa and at Newton North, a high school in one of the most affluent communities, Jewish students were taunted about killing Jesus.
Nancy Reagan left an incredible legacy when she passed away recently, particularly in regard to her work for young people. She made huge strides in a key issue facing teens in the 1980s: drug use. It was a growing problem at the time and one that needed immediate attention before it spiraled out of control. When the Reagans entered the White House, teen drug use was near record levels, but when they departed eight years later, it had declined by 47% and continued to drop.
So far, the story of the 2016 U.S. election has been the rise of outsider candidates. On the Republican side, of course, is Donald Trump, now the leading contender after his massive Super Tuesday wins. On the Democratic front, there's the 74-year-old senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders.
The power of The Force is a very good thing for millions of fans, and especially for Hollywood and movie theaters. In 2015, thanks in large part to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, U.S. box offices reached record revenue of $11 billion. And analysts predict that stocks for theater operators like AMC Entertainment will also enjoy the "Star Wars bump."
Gen Z is pre-programmed to aspire to independence and individuality. They were raised by Xer parents who were known for their self-reliance in their own youth and wanted to instill the same qualities in their children. As young kids, Z's were pushed to find their own way; this is in contrast to Millennials, who were heavily supported by helicopter parents.
Every generation has its teen idols. Baby Boomers had Elvis and Frankie Avalon. Gen X had Kirk Cameron and Jason Bateman. The oldest Millennials had the New Kids on the Block.
The characteristics that define this generation are their inherent comfort with social media and video, in particular.
The 2016 presidential election is unlike any we've seen. While most teenagers may not be able to vote, many are paying attention, playing a part and participating in the political process. Given the impact the government can have on young people's lives, this makes sense. And, given the fact that political opinions are shaped in youth, gauging teens' thinking today can help shed light on their future activities.
In just two and half years, the first contingent of Generation Z - people born from the mid-'90s to early 2000s - will graduate college. They'll have independence, careers, and, soon, disposable income. While Gen Y was the most researched generation in history, businesses that want to capture the hearts, minds and market share of Gen Z shoppers have some catching up to do.
There is a significant shift taking place in how and when young people identify as adults. Whereas Millennials ushered in an era of extended adolescence and held onto their youthful ways, Gen Z is growing into adulthood much earlier.