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The Millennial Mindset: Finding Common Ground Among Generations

BOSTON (CBS) - Participation trophies are generally scoffed at these days, but Harvard researcher John Della Volpe, Director of Polling at the Institute of Politics, notes baby boomers handed out these trophies in the first place.

Read: 'The Millennial Mindset' Series

"That was never a millennial's decision, right? When they were six, they didn't know about a trophy. It was the boomers and gen-Xers who wanted to make themselves feel good about the accomplishments of their children, right, who really didn't accomplish anything other than showing up at ten o'clock to run around for an hour and play soccer with a bunch of other seven-year-olds," he said.

There is also the hovering parent, known as the 'helicopter' parent.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Ben Kelley, 28, once worked at a bank call center and would not be contacted by college-age customers.

"Their parents would be calling for them and saying my son is trying to use their ATM card and it's not working, can you tell me? Well, no I can't because your child is over 18 and he needs to do this on his own, and they would get upset," he recalled.

WBZ news anchor Rod Fritz, a father of five, sees the other side of the coin. His kids contact him.

"I'm getting calls and texts about when should I get the oil changed in the car. Some of the questions, I'm like, c'mon, Google it," he said. When pressed about whether this is exasperating or a nice touch, he chuckled and said "I think it's a nice touch, really, you know, it's a nice touch."

Kim Parker, Director of Social Trends Research at the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., has been looking at the different dynamic between boomers and their Greatest Generation parents, when compared to Millennials and their boomer parents.

"Part of it is that they've been able to maintain connections through technology and while millennials are at the cutting edge of social media and all of that, boomers have caught on to a lot of that too, and it's another way that I think those different generations can stay connected," she says.

The Pew Research Center has also found that for the first time in the modern era, millennials are slightly more likely to be living in their parents home than they are living with a spouse or partner in their own home.

In terms of optimism about the future, Pew finds most millennials to be more positive than older generations, especially when compared to gen-Xers.

The millennials we interviewed for this series have mixed feelings.

Nick Vance
Nick Vance. (Photo by Mark Blake - WBZ NewsRadio 1030)

Nick Vance, who works for City Year as a senior recruiter, sees a bright future.

"There's so much more that we want to do and can do as millennials. There's a lot of good things that can happen," he told WBZ.

Kelley is not so sure. "I think the future is very uncertain right now," he said.

nichole davis
WBZ traffic reporter and news writer Nichole Davis. (Photo by Mary Blake - WBZ NewsRadio 1030)

Nichole Davis, a WBZ traffic reporter and news writer, told us, "I do worry, but I've got hope because, you kind of have to."

Parker says the generation after millennials is the million dollar question.

"What will be the markers that will define this generation. How will they be different? Will it be something about the way they interact with technology or will it be something that is happening in the external world? I mean, we just don't know," she said.

There is already research underway on what some are calling "Generation Z."

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Mary Blake reports

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