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NEWSWIRE: 5/15/17

  • Following his landslide victory, new French President Emmanuel Macron has become the latest Gen-X leader of a major world power. As contributor Paul Smalera notes, the generation that waited for its turn in the political spotlight is having its moment: “Some dropped out of the race, yes, but some quietly prepared for the day when they wouldn’t be beholden to the world that their elders created.” (Quartz)
    • NH: Not a perceptive piece. Author wrongly implies that "radical centrism" is the crusade of younger candidates in continental Europe. In fact, most of the Eurosceptic challengers are under 50 and most of the centrist candidates they are challenging are over 50. Emmanuel Macron and Matteo Renzi (in Italy) are the exceptions. But Renzi has fallen out of favor, and Macron--possessing only the flimsiest and technocratic of mandates--will be hard-pressed to escape a similar fate. Socially liberal but fiscally conservative worked well in the '90s (Clinton, Blair, Schroeder). But the reverse mix seems to be polling a lot better today.
  • In a new satirical music video, a 20-something moves back in with his parents after failing to find a suitable home in his price range. Echoing the concerns of many Millennials, the man in the video laments: “In the '80s my dad bought a house and a car. I’ll be 80 when I can get those.” (MarketWatch)
  • Columnist Teddy Wayne notes how Silent and Boomers are guilty of engaging in childish and narcissistic behavior on social media. But these seniors aren’t solely at fault: “Peer pressure can alter the behavior of any user, even one eligible for Social Security.” (The New York Times)
    • NH: Doesn't anyone understand the generational diagonal? Boomers aren't misbehaving on social media because the somehow the availability of their kids' Twitter is triggering them to be naughty. Rather, Boomers have been misbehaving in all media throughout their lives--and we're only surprised that people in their 60s and early 70s are dropping F-bombs and such because Boomers now occupy that age bracket. The nicer, less attitudinal Silent Generation has moved on.
  • New connected tech services like Brightwheel and ClassDojo allow parents to get real-time updates on their child’s day at school. These apps are a win for attentive Xer and Millennial parents who want to stay in the loop and to make sure their little ones are on track. (Cassandra Report)
    • NH: Wonderful observation: Up to now, Xer parents were OK with K-12 school management systems like Blackboard or Google's Classroom, which allowed helicopter parents to monitor their kids' progress at the end of the day. Millennial parents, who want instant feedback, prefer software that gives them direct, mobile-friendly, real-time access to their kids' at-school lives. The classroom software market, crowded with hundreds of brands, is ripe for a shakeout.
  • Contributor Linette Lopez is bearish on the GOP agenda (as articulated by Rep. Jeb Hensarling) of attempting to stimulate much faster economic growth by loosening Wall Street regulations. She correctly points out that unfavorable demographics—i.e., midlife Boomers being replaced by vastly smaller cohorts of Xers—is a problem that financial policy cannot fix. (Business Insider)
    • NH: Even OMB head Mick Mulvaney, who is (or should be) acting as the Trump White House's fiscal conscience, is floating a robust 3% GDP target. Come again? Seven years into a recovery? With virtually zero projected growth in the working-age population? And with productivity growth stagnating? Over the next five years, I regard the CBO projection of 1.8% as the outer boundary of optimism. 
  • A new documentary, Dare to be Different, chronicles Long Island radio station WLIR, which earned cult status in the ‘80s for forwarding Xer favorites like the Cure and the Ramones. The film’s name comes from the title of the WLIR campaign that won over Xers with its unique blend of nihilism and working-class overtones. (Salon)
  • Millennial Jesse Singal argues that the “Millennial” label doesn’t apply to older members of her generation because they “hold normal jobs” and “aren’t smartphone obsessed.” While there is some room for variation along the generational spectrum, Singal misses the point: Millennials are a cohesive group because they’ve had the same life experiences at roughly the same life stage. (CNN)
  • One in nine Boomer parents say their adult children have returned home within the past year. Multigenerational living is a win-win for children and parents hoping to save a little money and spend more time with their loved ones. (Fidelity/Stanford Center on Longevity)
    • NH: One in nine (11%) is a lot considering that this study looks only at Boomers (born 1946-64, by their definition), whose median child is a first-wave Millennial age 34. According to Pew Research, 13% of 30-to-34 year-olds are living with their parents. In the younger 25-29 age bracket, that rate rises to 25%. But for all the kids of Boomers who are older than the median, the rate is no doubt in the single digits. So the Fidelity/Stanford finding is plausible.
  • New research suggests that more handheld screen time may be associated with a higher risk of expressive language delays for children under 2 years of age. The study’s results will alarm parents whose Homelander kids are being raised on smartphones and tablets. (Kidscreen)
    • NH: We've written before about the controversy over age-appropriate use of digital technology. In reality, toddlers need kinesthetic and interpersonal learning.
  • On Sunday night, Emma Watson won MTV’s gender-neutral acting prize. This award exemplifies one strand of fourth-wave brand of feminism that Millennials have adopted in recent years. (The New York Times)
    • NH: While Piers Morgan may have mocked Watson unfairly, it's OK to point out the irony here: Watson got her gender-neutral award for playing in a lavishly produced Disney redo of perhaps the most gender-stereotypical fairy tale (Beauty and the Beast) ever written. For a real gender-role challenge, have Watson play the beast next time!


    Parents Get an Assist from Tech. We’ve mentioned before that parents are using tracking devices and services to help them keep tabs on their children. As we advance ever-deeper into the digital age, such tools are becoming ubiquitous. One is Circle with Disney, a device that helps parents set Internet controls. Savvy parents can even use Circle in conjunction with Amazon Alexa—doing so will allow them to “ask” Alexa about their child’s browsing habits and screen usage. And then there’s Verizon Hum, a smart car add-on that allows parents to set boundary and speed limits on their teenage drivers. These services even span into money management. Greenlight is essentially a pre-loaded debit card, with some major caveats: Parents can load the card instantaneously, set spending limits, and even bar their kids from spending money at a given store or location. While critics may be rankled by these “training wheels,” many protective parents undoubtedly believe that the added peace of mind is worth it.