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Friday, 3 August, 2001, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
Millennials: The kids are all right
millennialsn. esp. American. the generation born in the 1980s who are now entering the jobs market, higher education and the electorate.

COINED: in 1999, as ad execs, fashion houses and Hollywood tried to take the pulse of the lucrative teen market. Generational historians Neil Howe and William Strauss (themselves baby boomers) gave the phrase added currency with their book Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation Rising.

AVOID CONFUSION: with Generation Y ("As though these kids were a mere Generation X mark II," say Howe and Strauss) or Generation Why? (an even more nihilistic variant of the previous) or Echo Boomers (which apparently suggests these children of the 50s and 60s baby boomers share their parents' rebellious tendencies).

USAGE (descriptive): The Economist 23/12/00: "And they are the 'millennials', with the clean slate and new day that implies: born in the 1980s, the richest generation in history, the best educated, healthiest, the first to grow up knowing nothing of war, famine, disease and poverty."

USAGE (analytical): New York Times 5/11/00: "The Millennials are earnest, can-do types, more like the World War II generation than their parents or older siblings."

Britney's dressing room drinks
12 bottles spring water
Quart of cranberry-apple juice
Six cans of Coke
Eight bottles Gatorade
Carafe of hot water
ASSERTIONS: far from being anti-globalisation protesting Generation Xers or unambitious slackers in waiting, millennials are said to be "happy", "optimistic" and "driven".

Some surveys suggest American millennials have a more conservative attitude to sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll (cf. Britney Spears) than their elders ever did. "This is the best-behaved generation in years," says Howe.

EXAMPLES: Britney Spears (No sex please, I'm unmarried). Prince William (No cigs please, they're disgusting).

DISPUTED: critics argue that in our diversity-embracing post-modern world nothing can be gained from grouping together tens of millions of teenagers.

And also, if millennials are so squeaky clean, why is drug use amongst UK teens on the up? And who buys Eminem CDs?

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