What Is a Millennial? How Tech Defines the Post-Millennial Generation

Pew Research has officially set the millennial cut-off date.

Unsplash / Adrian Sava

The time of the millennial is officially over, according to the major fact tank Pew Research. The non-partisan organization has decided that its time to declare the cut-off date between millennials and the next generation — largely because of the divergent ways each generation has experienced technology.

“Turning 37 this year, the oldest Millennials are well into adulthood, and they first entered adulthood before today’s youngest adults were born,” Michael Dimock, president of Pew Research Center, wrote on Thursday.

It seems like a lot of people are still murky on who exactly is a millennial, and who is not. Perhaps you even think you are a xennial, the colloquial name given to those born between 1977 and 1983. So what’s the official span, according to Pew? If you were born between 1981 and 1996 (22 to 37 years of age), you are officially a millennial. Anyone younger than that is being called a “post-millennial,” for now.

According to Pew, a few key factors contribute largely to defining the millennial age bracket. Historical events, like having been old enough to understand 9/11, and growing up during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, have permeated the essential millennial experience. But one significant factor that really separates millennials from post-millennials is that they came of age as the internet began to perforate everyday life, while the latter did not.

This theme significantly separates millennials from their younger cohorts. “Social media, constant connectivity and on-demand entertainment and communication are innovations Millennials adapted to as they came of age,” Dimock says. “For those born after 1996, these are largely assumed.”

For the post-millennials, which many have been calling Generation Z, sophisticated mobile technology and ubiquitous social media use has been around since they were old enough to understand how to use it. “The iPhone launched in 2007, when the oldest post-Millennials were 10,” Dimock says.

To get a better gage as to how this level of interconnectivity will affect the post-millennial age group, Dimock also announced that Pew is launching a number of surveys that will poll 13- to 17-year-olds about their relationship to technology and technology use. The research will likely merit more insight into what it means to grow up connected to those around you in ways we’ve never seen before.

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