BEIRUT: After baby boomers and millennials, now Generation Z is next up in the world. With ages between seven and 21, we are joining the workforce or will be very soon. About time they start taking us into consideration.
But who are the people in generation Z? And what do you need to know about them?
Of course, it is impossible to pin down an entire generation. But in this article, I—a member of Generation Z—will try to point out eight things you need to know about generation Z in order to understand us better.
First, we are stressed-out.
Millennials are a generation plagued by stress, depression, and burn-outs. Due to individualistic mindsets, high pressure, and stress they are already dealing with burn-outs and severe depression issues. Members of Generation Z reported the worst mental health of all generations included in the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America report.
Only 45 percent of those interviewed found their mental health to be “excellent” or “very good,” which is compared to 56 percent of millennial and over 70 percent of Baby Boomers. Issues appearing on the news, like gun violence, mass shootings, sexual harassment, and migrant family separation are the main cause of stress for generation Z’ers; and overall, they are more stressed about these issues than other generations.
It is predicted to be a great problem for members of generation Z when joining the workforce. If nothing is done differently, a “wave of burn-outs” will have a great impact on working Gen. Z’ers.
Second, we are diverse.
The leading state of mind among Generation Z members seems to be that we don’t really care whether you’re gay, straight, bisexual, black, brown, white, etc. As long as you’re nice, we just don’t care. This is not surprising, seen as the demographics are changing and the historically dominant Caucasian countries are not that white anymore.
In a survey held in the U.S. among teens between 13 and 17, 62 percent thought a changing society to become more culturally diverse is positive. This clearly shows a shift in political views compared to Baby Boomers. Among Boomers, only 48 percent thought a culturally diverse society is a good thing.
Likewise, 82 percent of Gen. Z members favor homosexual couples getting married (or just don’t care) and 48 percent of the teens even said same-sex marriages have a positive impact on society. This compared to 32 percent of baby boomers being against same-sex marriage shows just how open-minded Generation Z is.
Third, technology shaped us.
The stereotype of Gen. Z’ers learning to swipe before learning to speak is a widespread one. While this is annoying to hear all the time, it is partially true. Gen. Z members have used and been used to technology all their lives. This makes us a very well informed generation, but also one with a very short attention span of only eight seconds.
This is due to the fact that information is constantly available and coming at us, meaning, we can process it very well but not for a long period of time. On the upside, we have learned to multitask very well because of all the technology. In school, we have a laptop set up, while taking notes in a notebook. Then, at home, we do our homework while watching a video on YouTube and FaceTiming friends.
This constant social media presence has also had some adverse effects. For example, the majority of Gen. Z members like to be spoken to face to face instead of chatting online, contrary to what one would think. It influences the way we perceive the world too.
A Z’er will have more in common with age peers from across the globe than with their parents from Generation X. Due to information from across the globe always being present, we are one of the most educated and informed generations.
Fourth, it’s all about the money.
Generation Z members grew up during an economic recession. This means that the vast majority of Gen. Z want a job where they can achieve financial stability, rather than their dream job. Research has even shown that two in three Gen. Z members would rather have a job that pays the bills than one they actually enjoy.
This also shows in their choice of college and majors, with 88 percent choosing a field with job availability in mind. Gen. Z members know traditional education just won’t cut it anymore if they want to have a good career. That’s why a lot of them are doing volunteer work or something else to get extra experience.
Further, 78 percent of Gen. Z members have already completed an internship or apprenticeship. To get the financial stability they crave, they are willing to make sacrifices. This explains why 75 percent of Gen. Z members said they would move for a job.
Compared to millennials, this is a lot because they are focused on finding something closer to home. Likewise, Z’ers are far more economical with their money, not spending much, and when they do, they’d rather spend it on products than experiences like millennials would.
Z’ers are more likely to look for online coupons too, showing their attitude towards money. The majority of Gen. Z members have already started planning their financial future, and a large percentage even already has a savings account.
Fifth, we are individualistic.
Generation Z is a very individualistic generation. On first hand this seems strange, seeing as we are always connected to our friends and family. But social media bring on an almost collective identity of what to like and what not to like; and to make sure you stand out, you have to have a very clear individual personality.
This generation will make decisions on what to wear or what to think based on this notion. We also like to work alone better. The millennial generation was one that liked working collaborative, leading to employers lowering cubicle walls to promote a work environment where people can work together.
This will probably change with the introduction of Gen. Z to the workforce, to a more individualistic workspace again.
Sixth, we want a voice.
Generation Z members are very aware of current problems and situations in the world, due to the omnipresent information on their mobile devices. Even though many are still too young to vote, we are actively voicing our concerns on social media and in marches like the “march for our lives.”
Every new generation thinks they will make the world better, or at least change it for the better, but this generation has an advantage in the fact that we are more global than ever. We have access to many different viewing points of many different problems. Another difference with other generations is that we seem to be keen on changing things using the system or within the system, rather than destroying the system.
Seventh, we embrace change.
Paul Carney, author and speaker on Human Relations trend says and former HR manager with the Navy Federal Credit Union, says: “Gen. Z has a strong ability to adapt to change, for those of us who have spanned many decades in the workplace, we have seen the rate of change increase and it makes most of us uncomfortable.”
Gen Z is a generation very much used to an ever-changing world, again, due to information constantly being thrown at them via mobile devices. This makes them a very adaptable generation who are not afraid of change. We have lived through some major changes already, like the legalization of same-sex marriage in the U.S. and we are actively working to make some more.
However, it is not only about making change in the world, but mostly to change the traditional ways of doing things. For example, almost half of high-school students said they would consider joining a workforce instead of going to college. College is not seen as necessary anymore, due to the rise of online learning platforms and even just small things like YouTube tutorials.
Eighth, we are entrepreneurial.
Many Gen. Z members dream of having their own businesses one day. In fact, 76 percent want to start a business. This comes from an attitude that rejects the traditional route of going to school and ending up at a boring desk job. Having our own company is also seen as a way of achieving the financial stability we so desperately want.
Because we are growing up in a time where funding for higher education is not as prevalent, this gives an alternative way of being financially stable without being in crippling debt.
Thijs Seimons, 16, from the Netherlands, is visiting Lebanon for two weeks and is currently an intern at Annahar English.
Annahar English is officially launching a teen-writing section entitled Gen. Z Voices and invites all students, ages 14 to 18, to submit essays, school-oriented news articles, life commentaries and more. No school assignments or poetry.
Send manuscripts for consideration to Gen Z editor Chiri Choukeir: firstname.lastname@example.org
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