Of course, such studies are based on high school and college behaviors, which aren't necessarily indicative of future behavior. After all, the "slacker" stereotype of the previous Gen X proved to be untrue. And the early Baby Boomers -- the 1960s counterculturists -- ended up as the force behind the 1980s' "greed is good" and mass consumption culture, as well as the greater social tolerance of diversity and the desire to protect the planet. The millennials will evolve in their own way, as every generation does, and society will adapt to and shape them simultaneously.
The "mobile rules all" myth
Another big myth is that millennials don't use computers if they don't have to. Everything begins and ends on the smartphone. That's also hooey. Baby Boomers were active smartphone users way before millennials graduated from high school. Who do you think bought up all those BlackBerrys and Windows Mobile devices in the late 1990s and through the 2000s? Who do you think were the driving adopters of the iPhone, then Android smartphones?
Millennials are more comfortable with modern technology because they grew up in it. But later Baby Boomers grew up in the early days of the PC and the Internet, then the messaging devices; to the old fogeys of our time, we were the wunderkind who "got" technology. Today, we have several generations that "get" it. The millennials are certainly more familiar with some technologies than their forebears, but they're not fundamentally separate from the rest of us in technological openness. I know -- I was there and remember the news stories and magazine covers!
I'd argue it's not the millennials who are driving the shift away from the PC but their predecessors, who form the ranks of the execs, business managers, sales directors, project managers, and so on that have been the prime adopters of the iPad and smartphones in business. It's those people who proved that tablets weren't simply "media tablets" or fancy Game Boys, as Gartner and others stereotyped such devices.
Here's a simple proof of that theory: The devices aimed at the millennials with a singular social focus -- Microsoft's Kin, Palm's WebOS, and Microsoft's Windows Phone -- are the ones that failed. The devices aimed at a broad range of computing, from games to engineering, are the clear winners: iOS and Android. They're multigenerational.
The millennials will see such technology as natural, cementing the shift away from the traditional PC that the Baby Boomers initiated.
The "information security and privacy don't matter" myth
The third big myth often cited is that millennials don't respect information security or privacy, and companies will have to give up on both. That's a misreading of reality. People have always used information outside the proscribed boundaries. Back in my 20s, the technology of choice was the photocopier, then the fax machine, both recently democratized technologies. People used them to leak secrets to competitors and the press, to create "insurance" with offsite copies, and facilitate informal sharing for skunkworks and other projects. Now we use thumb drives, email, cloud storage, and the like. But nothing has really changed at the level of impulse for using information for unofficial and even inappropriate purposes.
Today, many companies are paranoid about information security, even though few practice what they preach. (Is your work PC encrypted? I didn't think so. And is it hard to bring work to your unmanaged home PC? I didn't think so, either.) But this paranoia is in many ways grounded in recent history, not fundamental generational impulses.
The series of economic scandals in the 2000s, from Enron through the financial fantasies behind the housing boom and bust that wiped out a decade of market value, led to laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley meant to tie up companies in red tape to slow down such shenanigans. And it's caused some companies to try harder to shield their actions, given the rise in corporate distrust in even innocent activities.