CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Melissa Greenwood sees it every day at her high school -- the hyper-focus on designer labels, the must-have trendy cell phones, the classmates driving SUVs.
You could say it's just teens being teens. But new polls show that the obsession with material things is growing -- and that being rich is more important to today's young people than in the past.
UCLA's annual survey of college freshman, released last Friday, found that nearly three-quarters of those surveyed in 2006 thought it was essential or very important to be "very well-off financially." That compares with 62.5 percent who said the same in 1980 and 42 percent in 1966, the first year the survey was done.
Another recent poll from the Pew Research Center found that about 80 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds in this country see getting rich as a top life goal for their generation.
Tim Barello, a 24-year-old New Yorker, agrees that his generation has gotten caught up in wanting "more and more and more."
Having grown up on Long Island's wealthy North Shore, he thought he'd arrived when he got a job as a publicist and was able to rent an apartment in an exclusive apartment building in Manhattan.
"To be completely honest," he says, "I don't even appreciate everything I have sometimes.
"Yes, I have a nice apartment, a great job, a great degree, great clothing. But I feel empty inside rather often."
How embarrassing. A generation full of condiments and no food...