Generation Z, iGen or GenEdgers
are born around the turn of the century, usually of GenX parents, but some are born of our earliest millennials.
Educated and mentored by by their Generation X parents and teachers, they are some of the most fearful of our generations. They have grown up preparing for violent situations at school like no previous generation. But they are BOLD at the same time.
Some of the defining characteristics of this generation
- Nearly all owns a smart phone before they need one. Owning a phone is a rite of passage and it defines their generation.
- Spends 9 hours a day, between school and pleasure, consuming data digitally.
- Knows more than any other generation that has preceeded them. They don’t really need adults to teach them things.
- Are more diverse than previous generations. While previous generations have worked on all the rights: race, gender, faith, bullying, this generation is more homogenized. Many are bi-racial or multi-racial. They care less about differences and are more focused on character.
- Survived the Great Recession and have known tight budgets and difficult times. They are caught up in a shrinking middle class and they have watched their parents and siblings struggle to land meaningful employment. They have seen and felt the tension of tight family finances.
- Are skeptical of the American Dream for their own future.
- Are more entrepreneurial with a more global world view.
- Born post 9/11, they don’t remember a time without global terrorism, without safety drills at school that might save their lives in the event of a terrorist attack.
- Attends church at the rate of 41%, which is substantially higher when compared to 18% for Millennials , 21% of Gen X, and 26% of boomers
- Calls themselves “Risk-averse.” They are graduating in greater numbers and on time. Teen pregnancy rates have dropped. They are not using drugs or alcohol at the age and numbers that previous generations started.
- Watches college students saddled with debt and they fear they will not get to go to college.
- Fears the environment is unstable and will soon be unable to sustain them.
What do the experts say?
According to Jolene Erlacher, author of the Daniel Generation, “Generation Z is the loneliest and most depressed generation on the planet today.” They are lonelier than nursing home seniors who are shut in.
Generational expert, Jean Twenge, says iGen (GenZ) spends so much time communicating digitally, instead of face to face, that they may be the first generation who choose the best emoji for a situation, but not know how to make the face themselves.
Journalist Henry Wallop says “Unlike the older Gen Y, they are smarter, safer, more mature, and want to change the world.”
How do we show love to Generation Z?
Your contact will start digitally, of course! But get face-to-face as soon as you can.This is a generation who doesn’t know that they depression they feel is from a lack of eye contact or sense of belonging. Expect some social awkwardness, but make them feel welcome with lots of face-to-face communication and thoughtful conversations. I use question games with this age group. Let them ask YOU questions too!
Mentor them well. Parent them carefully. Lend them your expertise. Advocate for them. Their loneliness, depression and fear can be transformed into action that changes our world into a safer, more respectful place.