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Millennials Cautiously Optimistic, Embrace New Technologies

  • Lisa Schlein

Millennials, young adults between the ages of 18 and 35, are quick to embrace technology, but do worry about maintaining privacy, according to a new global survey.

Millennials, young adults between the ages of 18 and 35, are quick to embrace technology, but do worry about maintaining privacy, according to a new global survey.

A new global survey finds that millennials — people between the ages of 18 and 35 — view the world with cautious optimism and embrace a value system that is largely progressive.

More than 26,000 millennials from 181 countries answered the survey in nine languages. A diverse group of young people participated, including CEOs, students, police officers, well-off individuals and slum dwellers.

The World Economic Forum says the results provide unprecedented insight into the thinking, priorities and concerns of young people from all regions of the world.

Adeyemi Babington-Ashaye heads WEF's Global Shapers Community. He says the results indicate young people view the world as having many opportunities, with technology playing a pivotal role in creating jobs.

Millennials are bound by a sense of unity and shared destiny, he says, adding that a recurring message in all regions is the enthusiastic welcoming of technology, but with caution.

"Although they embrace technology, there is an overwhelming percentage that said that they were either concerned or very concerned about privacy,” Babington-Ashaye said. “More than 70 percent said they avoided downloading applications for privacy concerns, as well."

Young people across all regions see corruption and a lack of government accountability as the most pressing problems in their countries. They expect their leaders to be action-oriented and act with honesty, humility and transparency.

On a global level, the survey finds millennials see climate change as the most pressing problem affecting the world, followed by large-scale conflicts, religious conflicts and poverty.

Babington-Ashaye says analysts were surprised by the large degree of empathy millennials have toward refugees. He says 67 percent globally have a positive view of refugees.

"So, not only do they have empathy, but 73 percent would welcome refugees to their country,” Babington-Ashaye said. “It grades down to their city, their neighborhood. We even have 22 percent saying they would welcome refugees to their home."

The survey finds laptops are favored for email and online shopping, while the smartphone is the No. 1 device for social media activities. Globally, 53 percent strongly support same-sex marriage, while a majority of young people in the Middle East and Africa disagrees.

Overall, 50 percent of participants say they believe they can contribute to shaping the decision-making in their countries; however, that number is markedly lower in Europe, where only 44 percent say they believe they can influence the process.

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