Older Generations Are Catching Up With Technology Use

Older generations that are using technology are catching up to Millenials according to recent studies by the Pew Research Center.

The Pew Research Center defines generations by when they were born. Millenials are turning 22 to 37 years old, Baby Boomers are 54 to 72 and the Silent Generation is 73 to 90 this year. According to Pew, defined generations are a tool researchers can use to analyze changes in view and interaction with society. Pew has seen some upward trends of technology use with their data pertaining to older groups, which could help them define future generations as well.

“Generations provide the opportunity to look at Americans both by their place in the life cycle – whether a young adult, a middle-aged parent or a retiree – and by their membership in a cohort of individuals who were born at a similar time,” said Michael Dimock, President of the Pew Research Center.

While 92 percent of Millenials own smartphones, 85 percent of Gen Xers, 67 percent of Baby Boomers and 30 percent of the Silent Generation do as well. In addition, Gen Xers surpass Millenials by 10 percent with tablet use, perhaps as alternatives to the less visually friendly smartphones.

“The implications of growing up in an ‘always on’ technological environment are only now coming into focus. Recent research has shown dramatic shifts in youth behaviors, attitudes and lifestyles – both positive and concerning – for those who came of age in this era,” Dimock said.

The vast majority of internet users feel that the internet is good for them personally, while younger users are more likely to state that the internet is positive for society. Americans view the internet more negatively now than they did four years ago, the sentiment being led by Gen Xers who have dropped 11 percent in their approval. Millenials and Gen Xers are about equal in their internet usage; 97 percent of Millenials 96 percent of Gen Xers are users. This means, while more people are using the internet than before, they don’t approve as much as they did in previous years.

“While younger and older adults may differ in their views at a given moment, generational cohorts allow researchers to examine how today’s older adults felt about a given issue when they themselves were young, as well as to describe how the trajectory of views might differ across generations” Dimock said.

Social Media and platform use are also some of the factors in the Center’s decision to establish 1996 as the birth year of millennials. When it comes to social media Millenials still have the lead at 85 percent compared to Gen Xers at 75 percent. Gen Xers have increased in percentage of users by 11 percent in the past six years compared to Millenials who have remained stagnant.

“As has been the case in the past, this means that the differences within generations can be just as great as the differences across generations, and the youngest and oldest within a commonly defined cohort may feel more in common with bordering generations than the one to which they are assigned,” Dimock said.

KU Natural History Museum Panorama

Last Sunday the KU Museum of Natural History celebrated the 125th anniversary of the Lewis Lindsay Dyche Panorama that was first exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. The exhibit consists of a 360 degree view of various types of animals, with new editions expanding on the original North American exhibit.

On Sunday the museum hosted interactive activities such as building your own panorama, petting cockroaches and spinning ferris wheels. These activites were organized in order to celebrate the World’s Fair. Outreach Coordinator Eleanor Gardner believes that the exhibit is important because it was one of the first examples of taxidermy with environmental context.

Here is my ASF link:


Emotional Support Animals Present Complex Challenges on Campus

Here is a PowerPoint over Emotional Support Animals

Emotional Support Animals are becoming a common sight on college campuses, accompanying the increase of students seeking help for mental health problems. The American Psychology Association states that counseling centers have seen increases in anxiety disorders and clients with severe psychological problems in the past four years. But maybe furry friends can help improve mental health and overall mood.

In a 2018 article, C.W. Von Bergen, Ph.D., of Southwestern Oklahoma State University, said on emotional support animals and pets on campus that animals can influence human wellbeing positively, leading to physiological, psychological and emotional benefits. Humans have interest in pet companions and ownership of them requires us to socialize, exercise and fulfill simple responsibilities in order to keep them happy, but many colleges seem reluctant to set a precedent for animals on campus, citing that campuses would resemble “zoos rather than learning communities.”

With help from a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist, students can prove their need for ESAs by acquiring a letter from their mental health provider and getting their animal registered with student housing. After this process, ESAs are allowed in situations normal pets are not, in order to comfort the patient.

“A person that would benefit from an Emotional Support Animals would likely be one with some communications or social deficits and who has limited social supports. Individuals with depressive disorders could also benefit,” said Ryan Talley, a psychologist at Hall and Associates in Lawrence.

While universities attempt to accommodate the needs of these students, there could potentially be conflict with other residents due to the nature of living with an animal. The University of Kansas policy describes the following limitations of support animals being allowed on campus.

“The University may exclude a service or assistance animal if the animal is not housebroken; would pose a direct threat to the health, safety, or property of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by a reasonable accommodation; is out of control and the individual does not take effective action to control it; would fundamentally alter the nature of a program or activity; or is not being cared for the by the individual.”

Along with the advantages of ESAs come some noteworthy disadvantages. Becoming an Emotional Support Animal doesn’t require any specific training. Lea Ann Shearer, Executive Director for Paws for Freedom Inc., a Service Dog training company, said Service Dogs are intended to be unobtrusive, attracting little attention.

“Service dogs for people who use wheelchairs, as well as facility therapy dogs, need a low-key, amiable, ‘go with the flow’ temperament,” Shearer said. “This allows them to adapt as they go from one environment to another, such as going from home, to work, to a restaurant to meet friends, often on a daily basis. Due to their training, they are able to recognize when it is time to lay quietly on the floor and/or take a nap when their person is working, attending class, etc.”

Due to training not being a requirement of their registration, ESAs may bark, sniff, be disruptive and exhibit other distracting behavior. The University of Kansas’ Animals in Buildings policy states that ESAs can be allowed in student housing if there is a documented disability, the animal is necessary for equal opportunities in student housing, and if there is a relationship between the disability and the assistance the animal provides, such as if their companionship relieves anxiety or depression.

Even though Student Housing makes arrangements for these animals, there is some controversy regarding students falsifying information in order to keep their pets close by when changing residences. A 2017 article by Regina Schoenfeld-Tacher, Peter Hellyer, Louana Cheung and Lori Kogan about public perceptions of different types of working dogs address public perceptions of service, emotional support and therapy dogs. They write that the undefined roles of support animals may encourage fraud because policies are unclear.

While emotional support animals with fraudulent credentials aren’t as prevalent as false service dogs, they may falsely represent animals adequately doing their jobs. This can be paralleled by issues surrounding service dogs. According to Delta Airlines, Delta has seen an 84 percent increase in animal-related incidents.

“The issue of fraudulent service dogs is a growing concern in the service dog industry,” Shearer said. “Since people can opt to buy an ID badge and cape online, put the cape on the pet dog and take him out in public, it jeopardizes the overall reputation of well trained dogs that come from programs.”

Those looking to get their animals approved by housing can buy letters from therapists online to register ESAs for as little as $35 and in as quickly as 24 hours. This practice is different from the one Talley uses and recommends to assess patient needs for ESAs.

“The individual would need to have been given a formal diagnosis from a licensed professional to demonstrate that a therapeutic need exists in the first place. After that, a clinical interview would likely follow to determine why and how a support animal would address those needs,” Talley said.

The benefits of animal companionship can seem obvious, but it can be difficult to adjust to animals in professional and academic life. But the increasing number of ESAs can be seen as an indicator of the changing the way mental health is addressed in more open and upfront ways than in the past.