By Dr. Jim Cummins

Last weekend I attended the Missouri School Board Association (MSBA) annual conference. The conference is designed for school board members and superintendents and covers many areas from school governance to student achievement.

It was nice to have several of our board members attend sessions. One of the sessions I attended was related to how Nixa School District communicates with the Millennial generation. I enjoyed some of the facts and thought I would share some of them. All credit goes to Ms. Stevie Stryker, Nixa Schools, who used Forbes magazine for much of her data.

Millennials are loosely defined as those people born between 1980 and 2000. Essentially, this is the age range of people coming into adulthood in the new millennium. All of my children fall into this category.

Ms. Stryker spoke of this being the ME generation and the “trophy” generation; receiving a prize for everything they do regardless of quality or outcome.

So here are some fun facts about Millennials:

• By 2020, 1 in 3 adults will be Millennials.

• 75% of Millennials LIKE, RETWEET or SHARE content on social media.

• 83% of Millennials connect to websites on their smartphones and 61% of them state they will leave a website that is not mobile friendly.

• So how do they spend their time on their smartphones? 86% of their phone time is spent on apps and 14% on browsers (Internet), 32% on gaming and 17% on Facebook. This suggests to me we need to have an APP that is friendly to the Millennials’ way of communicating.

So how pervasive is social media with Millennials? Nearly 60% of Millennials report using Facebook daily and nearly 30% look at YouTube on a daily basis. What is funny is that the younger Millennials think Facebook is for the “older” people. They use it more for looking to see what is going on rather than actively posting to it. Twitter is also used frequently among this group.

To compare how they use Facebook and Twitter they asked a few questions. The question was asked, “Which of these, if any, are the main reasons that you use Facebook and/or Twitter?” Here are their responses: See what friends are talking about (FB 77%, Twitter 37%), Find things that entertain them (FB 58%, Twitter 40%), Look for interesting articles or links (FB 47%, Twitter 33%), Share content (FB 42%, Twitter 33%), and See what is “trending” (FB 33%, Twitter 43%).

Finally, Millennials are instant-feedback, multi-tasking beings. According to a Forbes article, Millennials switch their attention between media platforms like laptops, smartphones, tablets and TV about 27 times PER HOUR. For other generations it is about 7. This creates a bit of an attention span problem.

Millennials don’t like long stories. In 2000, Americans had an attention span of about 12 seconds. In 2014, it had dropped to 8 seconds. In contrast, a goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds.

One thing I love about Millennials is they want openness and transparency in communications. So be brief, be honest and be on social media when communicating with the Millennials.

Now, back to my Twitter feed! Have a great week.

(Dr. Jim Cummins is superintendent of the Seneca R-7 School District. He can be reached at jcummins@senecar7.com.)

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