Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Old, Young No Longer See Eye to Eye; GENERATION GAP Study Finds Wider Differences in Social Values, Lifestyle

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Old, Young No Longer See Eye to Eye; GENERATION GAP Study Finds Wider Differences in Social Values, Lifestyle

Article excerpt


Josephine Crewz doesn't own a cell phone. She doesn't use the Internet.

She places high regard on chivalry and attends church regularly.

The 74-year-old Jacksonville woman considers herself traditional in every sense of the word. She's noticed a drastic change in society since growing up in a large, Italian family in Brooklyn, N.Y. And despite raising 10 children of her own, she can't relate at all to today's younger generation.

"We were brought up the hard way," Crewz said. "These kids now have no responsibility. They worry too much about their Game Boys and what not."

Younger and older Americans see the world differently. The emergence of social networking and Internet technology has created the largest generation gap since the political clashes of the 1960s, according to a study released Monday by the Pew Research Center.

Almost eight in 10 people surveyed believe there's a major difference in the viewpoints of younger people and older people today, the highest spread since 1969, when respondents reported major differences in opinions over the Vietnam War and civil and women's rights. But unlike the political differences of the '60s, today's generations disagree over social values and morality, the study shows.

Adam Shapiro, chairman of the sociology department at the University of North Florida, attributes the gap to a rise in information technology. He also believes people now are more apt to interact with others their age, reducing communication across generations.

The rise of the age-exclusive retirement communities in Florida are but one example of this, he said.

"Generational differences increase as the pace of social change increases," Shapiro said. "Social change has increased rapidly, particularly over the past 30 [years].

"Given that young people are more apt to have been raised in the Internet era, their interactions, preferences, and values are more likely to have been shaped by this than persons of older ages."


The study also revealed a difference in the perception of aging and suggests that life stages are becoming more distinct. Where there was once a divide between adults and youth, increasingly the divide is between youth, young adulthood, middle age and later life.

Each time Shapiro teaches a course on aging he asks students to describe what an "old person" is. Much like in the Pew study, younger persons mostly describe old people in very negative and stereotypical ways. Older persons typically give much more moderated responses, he said.

Americans can't agree on when you become an "old person," either. The average was age 69 for all respondents in the Pew study, but the under-30 group said it was at 60 - and those 65 and over said 74. …

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