History has not yet revealed what we will definitively call the postmillennial cohort that now numbers more than 60 million people in the U.S. These kids and teens with no concept of life without the Internet have so far been called the App Generation and Generation Z. They’ve been referred to as Homelanders, having grown up under the specter of terrorism. They’ve also been labeled the Plurals, for their historic diversity, as well as the Founders, at least by MTV.
Whatever we end up naming them, marketers and academics are turning their attention to this group, which has billions in buying power and is already shaping the culture. This generation is growing up “totally and utterly connected,” says California State University psychologist Larry Rosen. Experts like Rosen have concerns about these kids’ Google-fostered expectations that everything be instantaneous. They worry about their inability to tolerate even five seconds of boredom. And they fret about the demands that come with maintaining several identities online, from Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat. “There’s so much pressure on young people, who are still forming their identities, to present this crystallized, idealized identity online,” says the University of Washington’s Katie Davis.
There is also optimism about a generation that is asserting an entrepreneurial spirit and finding ways to get offline. These kids’ überprotective Gen X parents–determined not to raise latchkey kids like themselves–are meanwhile hovering and helping them digitally detox in screen-less camps and Waldorf schools.
Historian Neil Howe sees parallels with the Silent Generation, the doted-on, risk-averse, “nice” generation of kids who grew up during the Great Depression and World War II. Today’s youths are also coming of age amid geopolitical turmoil and fears about the economy, he says, while schools emphasize “a profound sensitivity to other kids.” He suspects this generation will be known for being well behaved and perhaps “blanding” the culture by playing it safe. “There are recurring archetypes,” Howe says. Even if they go by different names.
–With reporting by Josh Sanburn
This appears in the December 28, 2015 issue of TIME.