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A Volunteer's Perspective: Supporting Younger Generations

Posted on 05/22/24

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Written by AARP NH Volunteer Dane Peters

So that we are all on the same page, here is what I gleaned from my Google search and the AARP website (website link) regarding generations:

  • Baby Boombers (born 1946 to 1964)
  • Generation X (born 1965 to 1980)
  • Generation Y or Millennials (born 1981 to 1996)
  • Generation Z (born 1997 to 2012)
  • Generation A (born 2013 to 2030)

As a Baby Boomer, I grew up with a black-and-white television, eight-millimeter video and polaroid cameras, paper maps, encyclopedia searches, etc.; and now, as I watch Millennials and Generation Zers, I see that what happened in 2010 when the smartphones, social media, map applications (GPS), Google searches, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and . . . got into full swing, we are all consumed by having texting, emailing, video games, social media, and other electronic distractions getting in the way of personal interactions with one another. 

Staying in tune with the differences children are faced with each day, how can we as 60- to 90-year-old adults/grandparents support our children’s children aka our grandchildren? My wife and I increased our volunteer activities with our increased retirement free time by . . .

  • Supporting local libraries
  • Reading to preschool children via in-person and video (during pandemic)
  • Helping at our local food pantry and markets
  • Participating in a local story telling project — live and via video
  • Supporting Veterans and local community
  • Serving on non-profit boards of trustees
  • Caring for our grandchildren
  • Mentoring educators . . . AND
  • Volunteering and participating in AARP activities

These activities help to mitigate some of the screen time that occupies the attention of the “younger generations” by personally engaging with multiple generations and having conversations and sharing experiences—back and forth.

New York Times article “Work a Little, Play a Little: A New Retirement Strategy describes how I was involved with my own transition into retirement. Books, articles, and websites — like AARP, especially the many articles that reference family caregiving, gender difference, self-help, etc. — that teach and guide us regarding generational differences and changes over the years can help us in our sensitivity to these differences. One powerful example is the New York Times bestselling book, The Anxious Generation by Jonathan Haidt and how he presents differences I mention above brought on by changes in technology, AI, and social media supported with excellent research and analysis. It is a must-read book for all generations!

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