Here’s an idea for a survey: ask more seasoned cohorts (in groups, e.g. 35-44, 45-54, etc) what their biggest pet peeve about the younger generation is, out of a list of choices. Include a wide range of options. Make some options distinctly about the particular generation (e.g. pop culture fads). Make some of them about changes that span across generations (e.g. texting rather than talking on the phone). Make some of them just part of being young (e.g. not listening to elders). Make some of them just human (e.g. always misplacing things).
Tally the results. See how popular the ones that can actually be specifically applied to this generation fare against broader categories. Even generation-specific ones have parallels in the youths of the older age ranges – finding it shocking that today’s university students were born in a post-Cobain world was the same for post-Lennon, post-Hendrix, post-Holly children coming of age to whoever grew up in a prior musical climate. Thinking Justin Bieber and One Direction reflect dwindling standards of talent and art in music ignores what the industry has been employing in its marketing strategy for the past 70 years.
The declining quality of literacy? As stick-up-the-ass about grammar as I can be, language is not static and rules have been changing each generation. A sense of entitlement? There is more variation within generations than between, as income disparity and family values influence this and not the year in which people are born. Not knowing about important events in history? New ones happen and the world changes with them. There are undoubtedly differences in habits and mindsets between age brackets that grew up in different environments, but wait for young people to reach adulthood. When they are through with their growing pains and solidified character starts to appear, judge them then. You’ll find that the worst traits span across all generations, and some young people are just as awesome as you.