Who Is Generation Z?
Generation Z, sometimes Gen Z, iGen, or Centennials, among many others, is the demographic cohort between the Millennials and Generation Alpha. The name continues the alphabetical order from Generation X and Generation Y. Today, members of this generation are between 2 and 22 years old.
Defining Events for Generation Z
While Generation Z shares many characteristics with the Millennials, they saw a drastically different world in their formative years, shaping them into a separate age group. They have distinct worldviews, opinions, tendencies, and attitudes from Gen Y. Unlike Millennials, members of Generation Z have little to no memory of the time without the widespread Internet. They were born into a world of peak technological innovation with instantly available information and ever-present social media. Therefore, Gen Z is a cosmopolitan generation shaped by global events and trends during turbulence, disruption, and change.
The digital age has helped Gen Zers expand their knowledge and horizons and made them the most diverse and progressive generation to date. At the same time, the excess screen time, disease, and financial insecurity has made them feel isolated, anxious, and depressive, and led to implications for their social skills development, attention spans, vocabulary, academic performance, and future economic contributions.
Most members of this generation have grown up in free and diverse families, whether with a single parent, a multi-racial household, or one with blurred gender roles. In turn, Gen Zers have become less fazed by race, sexual orientation, or religious differences compared to previous generations. In addition, their parents raised Gen Z to be independent and figure things out on their own. They allowed them to express themselves freely, explore and create without constant supervision. So, Generation Z has no issue doing things their way and is certainly not a ‘go along to get along generation.’
Other Defining Events:
- Access to Technology Since Birth
- Always Wired, Smartphones, Texts, and Social Media
- Shared Family Responsibilities
- Diverse Family Structures
- COVID-19 Pandemic
- Great Recession
- Election of The First Black President
- Legalization of Gay Marriage
- Gender Equality
- Corporate Social Responsibility
- Climate Change
- Terrorism and War
- Gun Violence
- Arab Spring Democracy Movements
- Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
It’s still early to define all events that will leave a lasting effect on Generation Z or younger generations. Still, these worthy mentions are likely to shape their characters.
Characteristics of Generation Z
The defining events have led most members of Generation Z to:
- Be born as digital natives, addicted to digital devices, constantly connected to others through phones and screens
- Grow into the most racially and ethnically diverse generation
- Develop a global perspective and a progressive way of thinking on politics and social issues
- Easily make friends on the Internet, but at the same, be the loneliest generation
- Become less focused yet creative and innovative
- Communicate openly, be vocal, socially expecting, conscious, and express their opinions
- Fight for social change, racial equity, and protecting the environment
- Grow into pragmatic individuals – both entrepreneurial and financially cautious, knowing that everything is possible
- Value security, stable jobs, and smart investments
- Be independent, self-directed, and ask for less positive reinforcement compared to Gen Y
- Look for shortcuts, more affordable, career-connected education pathways
- Value authenticity and individual expression in their life experiences
- Explore and evaluate a range of options before settling on a decision
- Expect the newest technologies at work, accustomed to prompt results
- Be very competitive and compare with peers
- Always believe their opinions matter – want to be seen and heard
Generation Alpha is the demographic cohort succeeding Generation Z. It refers to individuals born after 2020, or according to some studies, after 2010. Since Alphas are still being born, there is no sufficient data to analyze their behaviors. These children will grow up in a fully digital world and are expected to become the most socially connected, educated, technologically immersed, and wealthiest generation to date.