Parent-Teenager Differences in Communication

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Over the years, there have been differences in communication patterns between parents and teenagers. Having been born in different generations, teenagers tend to use digitalized forms of communication unlike their parents who prefer face to face communication. Because of the differences in preference, it has been difficult for the two sets of generation to communicate effectively. The members of generation X, having been born at a time when technology was taking shape in the world, they often use prefer using digitalized forms of communication, which is known as the computer- mediated communication. Unlike generation X members, Baby Boomers were born at a time when television was considered as it being the main ‘digitalized’ tool and therefore know little about computer mediated communication. They argue that the computer mediated communication does not give room for use of facial expressions and other non- verbal cues. As a result, communication between the two parties is not considered to be effective.

 Generational differences between both the parents and the teenagers has brought about great differences in how the two tend to communicate. The Baby Boomers believe in face communication while on the contrary, the Gen Xers have embraced digitalized communication which makes it hard for them to effectively communicate. The Boomers on one hand, have their focus on making themselves better especially at their work places, by virtue of being busy.  Their failure to embrace technology as a means of communication has made it difficult for them to connect with family and friends since they have no time for face to face communication. The Gen Xers on the other hand have connected to so many friends and family because of their ability to effectively use technology for communication purposes. Both generations however believe that digitalized communication is suitable for communication especially when face to face verbal communication cannot be established.

Introduction.

Communication is an important tool in the day to day lives of human beings. It is argued that there exists a relationship between the communication quality and the quality of life. Globalization has brought about tremendous changes in communication patterns since the internet was developed. It came with various ways of communication, different from the conventional face to face communication that was used from the genesis. Various generational groups might communicate in different ways based on the shared cultural practices that are unique at the time of their birth cohort. Face to face form of communication shifted to the computer-mediated communication whose users mostly are of Generation X since they are at peace with technology used form of communication. The baby boomers, on the other hand, place more emphasis on face to face communication.  Due to the varied ways of communication between these two generations, there is usually some conflict.

I chose this topic because I was born and raised by a baby boomer parent and communication between us was at times difficult. Unlike us in the X generation who embraced the use of technology in our communication, my parent being a baby boomer had not fully embraced communication technology. As a result, it was difficult to communicate despite having some knowledge in the technological communication field. Baby boomers like my parents believed in work, they were employed and this meant that most of the time they would be at their workplace and communication between us during the day was difficult

It is therefore important to assess generational differences between parents and teenagers so as to create an understanding between the involved parties. Communication is an important aspect in the daily lives of human beings. What this therefore means is that, despite the differences in terms of generation between the baby boomers and generation X, there has to be a way of ensuring that these two groups get to understand each other despite different communication patterns. This paper therefore seeks to discuss the various generational differences between parents and teenagers concerning the differences in communication between baby boomer parents and Generation X who are raising millennia’s.

Emotional labor refers the process of managing emotions, feelings and one's expressions to meet the emotional requirements of a given situation. Every person in some way has to control the way and regulate their emotions in the course of interaction with other members. Emotional labor includes analysis and decision making regarding how they express their emotions whether felt or not, as well as their ability to withhold their emotions that are felt and not expressed. In communication between these two generations, the baby boomers, and the generation X, it is important for the two parties to effectively employ the emotional labor approach so that there can be effective communication between these two groups.

Research questions

What are the differences of communication between Baby Boomer parents and Gen X parents who are raising millennials?

The Baby Boomer Generation and Communication.

The baby boomer generation is made up of people who were born between 1946 and 1964 (Cox et al., 2018). It is a generation that exhibits differences in terms of the experience that the members have in relation to communication. Boomers were born at a time when the telephone and television were the main contributions of technology in many households. Some scholars refer to this generation as digital immigrants because they will have to learn the ‘digital language’ so that they can effectively communicate with the ‘digital natives’ who are the generation X. The baby boomers usually communicate using face to face communication, telephone and in rare cases using email. Their reliance and emphasis on face to communication is because, through this form of communication, they will be able to see the body language and other non- verbal cues which are important in the effective completion of the intended message. The idea of sticking and believing in face to face communication has in a way strained the communication between parents and teenagers. Whereas teenagers have fully embraced technology and are actively using digital media for communication, the parents are still behind in terms of technology embracement which makes communication an uphill task for the two groups.

Generation X and Communication.

Generation x refers to that generation that was born when the advent of technology was taking shape in the global community (Fry, 2015). It is therefore thought to be a period between 1965 and 1980. They are sometimes called the net generation by various authors and scholars. Members of this generation consider themselves as digital natives due to the fact that they have been brought up seeing technology and technological advancements. They are considered as natives because they speak the language of technology, digital life, and use of the internet. It is a generation whose older members use face to face communication and computer-mediated communication, while its young members usually make use of digital and electronic technologies for purposes of interpersonal communication. Because they are quick to embrace new and innovative technological advancements, they are at times called ‘’tech-savvy multi-t askers.

The techno-centered nature of this generation emphasizes oneself though they also are in need of group interactions, especially their view to wanting immediate feedback from whoever they are communicating with (DeVaney, 2015). They are a generation that was brought up by parents who were overprotective and were assured most of the time of how important they were. What this means therefore is that generation X is a generation that requires support and care from others in the society.  Due to the idea of being given all the affirmation they needed to be successful from their parents and teachers, they mostly harbor entitlement feelings and want to be recognized for the success achieved. They may challenge those in authority whenever they feel like they want to make an important contribution and they are not being given the recognition they think they deserve. Unlike the baby boomers who believe in work, the members of this generation x usually want a balance between their school work and their private life, this therefore means that their focus is not mainly on achieving a single goal like the baby boomers.

Due to the unending encounter and exposure to technologies and the internet, the brain structure of generation x has changed. This change in the brain structure enables them to encode and process information in a different way as compared to the members of the baby boom generation (Fry, 2015). It is a generation that is used to quick reception of messages and getting instant fulfillment and rewards through networking on various sites of the internet at the same time. The communication of this generation is more graphic based since they do not value text messages so much and therefore reading is not of importance to them so much. Generation x has its unique ways of interacting with various people which is different from other generations. It is a generation that prefers constant connections and interactions with social mates such as friends and family regardless of the time of the day or night. For them to achieve this, they usually make use of the various social media platforms and networks. Various interaction qualities that relate to the communication of generation X; they are instant since their interaction is experienced as prompt and instantaneous, their interaction is usually engaging and enjoyable, their interaction is supportive and shared, it is free and open, and it is also accommodative and adjustable. These aspects make them considered better, unlike the baby boomers. 

Though most members of this generation are considered to be better than the baby boomers in terms of their communication, they usually communicate using electronic means as much as or maybe even more than face to face communication. They prefer social networks and digital communication as a way of sharing and exchanging information. Because of their wide use of technology in communication, they tend to lose touch with the important form of communication which entails facial expressions, body movement, and other non-verbal cues. Through those social networks, members of this generation make many friends who help them improve their communication through the said platform in the course of their interaction. However, this does not entail face to face communication which cuts a clear distinction between the baby boomers who believe in it and the members of this generation who do not embrace it so much.

Comparison between Face To Face Communication with Computer-Mediated Communication.

Face to face communication which is associated with the baby boomers is different from the digital or the computer-mediated communication because of the lack of physical presence which means there will be no non-verbal communication cues such as gestures, body movements, facial expression, and eye contact (Kendig et al., 2017). The said cues are essential in communication since they help in the completion of the message. It is an approach that was widely used by the parents to the generation x members. Non-verbal communication is an important element of relation among all forms of interaction, this therefore means that one cannot have an effective interaction without invoking the non-verbal cues and neither can one have interaction without the messages of relation that are sent by non-verbal communication. What this means is that the non-verbal communication used helps in making the verbal communication to be understood and had an effect on the emotional climate of a given conversation. Face to face communication comprises non-verbal cues as well as the verbal ones which function independently and complementary in conveying the message. The purpose of verbal is to convey ideas whereas that of non-verbal communication is to convey messages of emotion.

A study made on computer-mediated form of communication has indicated that without the various verbal and non-verbal cues, richness will be lacking in the communication. This kind of communication is impersonal and can therefore lead to isolation and feelings of loneliness. Communication on the internet especially using messages is not easily understood and difficult to interpret especially in cases where irony, sarcasm, and humor have been used which can lead to misunderstanding of the intended message (Lyons et al., 2015).  To counter this, the computer-mediated communication and its users embraced the use of emoticons to represent various facial expressions. It was a move that in a way came close face to face communication, but it did not sufficiently cede the undoing of computer-mediated communication especially on lacking non-verbal communication cues. The introduction of video calls came into play where the communicators would set the screen of their communication devices in a way that they are able to see each while they are communicating, this was done through platforms such as Skype. Though it was able to show the facial expression of an individual, the gestures, body movements and other non-verbal cues of communication could not be captured.

Bridging the communication gap between the Baby Boomer generation and Generation X

It is evident from research that Generation X and the Baby Boomer generation had differences in the way their interpersonal communication was conducted. Baby Boomer generation prefers face to face communication whereas Generation X makes great use of computer-mediated forms of communication (Gardiner et al., 2015). The variance in the medium of communication can cause conflict and disquiet between the two generations resulting in a generational communication gap. Despite the differences between these two generations in terms of their communication patterns, there are some similarities. For example, the two generations give value regard for whatever they take part in. Both generations are cognizant of the fact that they have to keep up with the changes in technology so that they can succeed in whatever they take part in.

To unlock the generational differences stalemate in terms of efficient communication is to embrace an open mind on both parties, generation x, and baby boomers. Generation X should not take the Baby Boomers as a generation that is ignorant about matters to do with technology and computer-mediated communication (Nowak, 2017). The Baby boomers on the other hand should take Generation X as a generation that is presenting a learning opportunity for them and should not feel threatened .The two generations have to view one another as beings that are unique and therefore treat each other with respectfully regardless of the differences that exist between them. Differences in generation is not something that can be changed, instead, the members of these different generations can strike an understanding with a view to validating each other's values. Each of the generations with differences can learn from the other, for example, Boomers being experienced, knowledgeable and skilled can be of help to the Generation X in terms of matters that relate to real life. Generation X on the other hand with their knowledge in technology can help the boomers on matters technology. If the two generations exercise respect, open-mindedness, and understanding between them, then there will be meaningful communication between where the two can be motivating each other with the aim of bringing out the best from each other. With the acknowledgment from the two generations that they can learn from one another, there will exist positivity in terms of culture and respect for one another. For this to happen, the baby boomers will be forced to adopt much of the Generational X practices because they will have to converse in the digital and technology language of generation X, this, however, does not mean that the baby boomers should discard what they consider important in their lives.

To improve communication between the Baby Boomers and Generation X, the Boomers will have to show some respect to Gen X members not forgetting their different ways of communication and living. Though Boomers may take the Generation X members to be of shallow minds, a structured and meaningful interaction between them will accord them the chance to learn and guide the younger generation on issues to do with life (Stewart et al., 2016). The Baby Boomers should be willing to receive contributions, ideas, comments, and compliments from the Generation X through learning about the new technological advancements in terms of devices so that the digital divide between these two generations can be decreased. To create a good and healthy relationship between the Baby Boomers and the Generation X, the former has to embrace changes in technology and increase their usage of computer-mediated communication which is widely used by the teenagers. They have to make communications between them more meaningful by speaking in a digitalized language.

Due to the competitive nature of the Baby Boomers and their disregard of emotional and psychological wellbeing, the younger generation will tend to be influenced in terms of their emotional wellbeing both at home and at school (Song et al., 2016). They should therefore create more opportunities for face to face communication between these two generations so that the awareness of Generation X on matters such as kindness, empathy, and remorsefulness can be raised in them. The younger generation has to be guided on the best way they can constructively communicate using the computer-mediated communication device so that online clashes and misunderstanding can be minimized. The Boomers should create time to be with the teenagers so that they can share a few things face to face to avoid instances of failing to communicate because they are busy at work and therefore can’t use the digitalized form of communication.

It is clear from the discussion above that the Generation X is so much into the digitalized form of communication. However, they are supposed to empathize with the Baby Boomers ignorance to digital form of communication and the devices that come with it. They should also appreciate the fact that the Baby boomers prefer to use face to face communication. The Generation X ought to have patience with the baby boomers whenever they share knowledge in technology as well as encouraging them to embrace the use of digital communication. Generation X on the other hand, though known for self-confidence and belief that whatever they do is important and right, they have to approach their association with Baby  Boomers with positivity and be ready to be guided and positively take the advice given. Generation X should also let the Baby Boomers know the importance of having time for family and friends. The Baby Boomers concentrate so much on building themselves and reaching the highest levels in a specific area forgetting their wellbeing and that of the commitments of the family (Reinecke and Allison, 2017). The younger generation, though they don’t use face to face communication, they usually have time for family and friends through the digital forms of communication.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the patterns of communication between the two generations, Baby Boomers, and the Generation X are greatly different. Whereas the Baby Boomers prefer face to face communication, the other younger generation is of the preference to computer-mediated communication (Song et al., 2016). These differences in communication have according to research resulted in strained relationships between the two parties because both believe in their form of communication. The Baby Boomers are usually not ready to embrace the digitalized form of communication, yet they have very little time for face to face communication with family and friends. Though computer-mediated communication has the challenge of lacking personal appeal and other forms of non-verbal cues, it is a good form of communication since people can convey messages to one another whether they are in the same geographical location or not. Parents and teenagers usually brush shoulders on the ways of communication. Most parents especially those in the Baby Boomer generation are usually against the digitalized form of communication when delivering a message to them. Differences are usually created due to the differences in belief in the various forms of communication.

It is therefore wise for these two generations to embrace the digitalized communication techniques. The computer-mediated communication is convenient in communication since it doesn’t involve much planning as face to face communication does. However, face to face remains the ideal form of communication to all the generations. Therefore to address these generational differences in terms of their communication patterns, the two generations should be ready to use either form of communication that suits the prevailing circumstances in order to enhance the meaningful relationship between the two generations.

Works Cited

Cox, Cody B., et al. "The Baby Boomer bias: The negative impact of generational labels on older workers." Journal of Applied Social Psychology 48.2 (2018): 71-79.

DeVaney, Sharon A. "Understanding the millennial generation." Journal of Financial Service Professionals 69.6 (2015): 11-14.

Fry, R. "Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. 2016." (2016).

Gardiner, Sarah, Debra Grace, and Ceridwyn King. "Is the Australian domestic holiday a thing of the past? Understanding baby boomer, Generation X and Generation Y perceptions and attitude to domestic and international holidays." Journal of Vacation Marketing 21.4 (2015): 336-350.

https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/article-pdf/52/2/149/1707781/gns038.pdf

Kendig, Hal, et al. "Attitudes towards intergenerational equity: Preliminary Australian evidence." Australasian Journal on aging 36.2 (2017): 107-111.

Lyons, S. T., Schweitzer, L., & Ng, E. S. (2015). How have careers changed? An investigation of changing career patterns across four generations. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 30(1), 8-21.

Nowak, Jakub. "On the concept of figurations, deep mediatization, and the adulthood of media and communication studies–the interview with Andreas Hepp." Mediatization Studies 1.1 (2017): 109.

Reinecke, Leonard, and Allison Eden. "Media use and well-being." (2017).

Song, Yajun, Silvia Sörensen, and Elsie CW Yan. "Family support and preparation for future care needs among Urban Chinese baby Boomers." Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences (2016): gbw062.

Stewart, Jeanine S., et al. "Managing millennials: Embracing generational differences." Business Horizons 60.1 (2017): 45-54.

August 01, 2023
Category:

Family

Subcategory:

Communication

Subject area:

Parenting Teenagers

Number of pages

14

Number of words

3577

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