While the generations themselves don’t get a chance to name or categorize themselves, Generation Z or Gen Z sure has made a name for themselves. Following the Millennial generation, Gen Z’s were born between 1995 and 2010, give or take a few years. Currently, the eldest of them are starting to emerge in the workforce. While the Millennials lived through the spark of personal computers and the start of the Internet, Gen Z was the first to be born into it. They don’t know a world before it, and it has changed how nearly everyone else moves through the world. Knowing how they can affect and shape our world is inherently valuable in how every other generation interacts with them.
“Gen Z embraces living in the right now and enjoys sharing the world through their eyes through Snapchat stories that enable them to tell their story of a day in their life in an unedited video that will last for 24 hours before disappearing forever.” — Daniel Burrus
Gen Z is one of the most innovative and forward-thinking groups of young people. Growing up in a technological revolution puts them uniquely front-and-center to try and use and manipulate these modern marvels in ways that were previously thought impossible. They find a problem and look to fix it, both for themselves and the future. In the last decade, a young woman has discovered an enzyme that can help better target and eliminate cancer cells without killing healthy ones—to be honest, that is profoundly amazing, to say the very least. A young man has created a device that will help rid the ocean of unnecessary garbage dumped within it. Even more amazing, it runs entirely on solar energy. There is nothing that these young people cannot face.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Gen Z
The best way to relate with somebody or a group of people is to understand the distinct qualities that characterize the person or a group of persons. We especially live in a multi-generational society that comprises all the generational groups. Today in America, we have six generations living here. They are the GI Generation, Mature/Silents, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y/Millennium, and Generation Z/Boomlets. Understanding the unique characteristics of Gen Z will open a lot of opportunities in learning how to relate to everyone in this generational category.
One of our missions on Oaekpost.com is “…to reach a multigenerational audience with a principal demographic focus being Generations X, Y, Z. Our goal is to engage the minds of all our readers, particularly in these generations, by providing a nook in the deluge and age of information overload for a value-added reading experience.” Here on Oaekpost, we are dedicating a whole sort to Gen Z via our Gen Z Niche category. Why? Because Gen Z currently “…makes up 25.9% of the United States population, the largest percentage, and contribute $44 billion to the American economy. They now account for one-third of the U.S. population, certainly worth paying attention to.” The Gen Z Niche is our way of engaging with the Boomlets that will be visiting Oaekpost. We will be publishing articles, stories, interviews, insights, and other fun and engaging materials that appeal to this generational niche. So, buckle up Oaekposters, let us begin this journey on Gen Z Niche by delving into the “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Gen Z.”
#1. They are the Generation of Interconnectivity
The biggest complaint older generations have for this new burgeoning generation is that they’re always plugged in. That is because they have been since birth. The oldest Generation Z was born around 1995, while the first significant rise in personal computers happened in 1982, with no less than three different companies releasing their own models that year.4 The World Wide Web, which ushered on the Internet, burst onto the open market in August of 1991.3 They have spent their whole life connected, learning how to use computers and utilize the Internet in school as a tool to be used to expand their educational horizons. It’s grown with them as well, with new models of technology being released every few years or so, and those products being more often created to complement their global mindset.
#2. The Term “Celebrity” Is Far More Nebulous for Them
The term “celebrity” is far more nebulous for the Boomlets (i.e., another name for Gen Z). With this global mindset, they also find entertainment in various ways, from websites like YouTube and Twitter to smartphone apps, like the now-defunct Vine and Instagram. Vine is well-known for skyrocketing young Gen Z’s to near-celebrity status. Hundreds of millions of views on 6-second videos from people that had been relative nobody’s in the days before. But as these stars rise, they also fall. After the Vine website became defunct, many users moved to websites like Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and now Tik Tok. One of the few who made a successful transition, Drew Gooden, now boasts over 1 million subscribers to his witty and biting YouTube critique channel.5 He, in his own right, has used this celebrity status as a springboard for success in other avenues on the Internet. He isn’t the only one, and he certainly won’t be the last.
#3. They’re Leaders In Social Justice and Inclusivity
Gen Z grew up when the concept of global warming was a burgeoning idea, refugees and immigrants became an important political issue, and racial injustice was thrown more into the spotlight. Rather than standing aside and letting everyone make decisions around them that would otherwise affect them, they stepped up to the plate and led the charge. The more recent Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14, 2018, started a wave of student protests calling for better gun restrictions to keep the event from occurring again. Protestors marched to the Capitol in Washington, D.C., and some even made it to the White House to spread advocacy for their cause. They’ve put their beliefs into action instead of just standing aside and letting someone else take the lead on sundry issues. These young men and women will become our next generations of leaders and thinkers, and they aren’t afraid to act like it.
#4. Sex and Sexuality Aren’t Taboo Topics for Them
The last few years have been fraught with various groups advocating for sexual equality and recognition. Gen Zs have been quite vocal in pushing for sexual rights. Between these “deemed” acts of social justice and the more open and expansive integration of more sex education in our culture, they’ve become more comfortable exploring their sexuality and feel safer doing so. The more open dialog about sexuality and gender is a safer environment for dialog and learning. They’re also protected and more knowledgeable about it too. The instances of teen pregnancy have gone down from 59.9 per 1000 women in 1990 to 20.3 per 1000 women in 2016.6 This helps lead to a more open dialog about the past and how the treatment of sex and sexuality has affected the collective psyche of previous generations. Gen Z is not afraid to dialog; hence, with collective research in the right way, they will decide and make decisions on what is right and what is wrong when it comes to sexuality, treatment, and rights. Let this generation be taught what is objectively right.
#5. The Prefer Gadgets to Experiences
Because they’ve grown up with the Internet, Boomlets tend to prefer gadgets and products to experiences. Growing up in such a tangle of interconnectedness, they get to experience firsthand from the comfort of their own space more diverse and expansive perspectives. Money is one of the most critical concerns for this generation, and spending it on an experience would seem a waste—especially when they have the option to purchase something that’ll make their lives easier. With more burgeoning technology, this helps connect to the rest of the world quicker, presumably more stable, and secure. Not to mention that these gadgets can sometimes make life easier. Laptops and smartphones are becoming even smarter, lighter, and more portable for the student or worker on the go. Generation Z loves these kinds of products, and companies are rushing to meet that growing demand.
#6. They’ve Ushered in A New Shift in Buying Power
The Boomlets have ushered in a new shift in the economic macrocosm via a robust and growing buying power—and companies are taking notice of this new and rising trend. Whole classes on how to gear advertising campaigns toward Gen Z’s and Millennials have cropped up in droves across the Internet in the last 5 years. This generation isn’t made of fools either; they know their power. They want real products and real results. Rather than just choosing name brands, they’re willing to take a product for its quality rather than its name. And with such easy access to things like Amazon, where products can be rated by actual customers, they will do the work and the research to make sure that they get the best product. If they don’t provide the best product, they are not shy in letting you know and telling it as it is. They’re being blamed for the fall of larger department stores, like Sears and Kmart, but with open access to sometimes better products for cheaper, who wouldn’t, especially when their finances are some of their biggest worries?
#7. They’re Far More Cynical About Finances
Growing up amid the recent financial slowdown helped shape how they view money and the things that they do use it on. Many Gen Zs believe that they’ll have to work harder to live similarly to how their parents and grandparents lived. While those in the workforce in 1950 made an average of $0.75 an hour, that equates to $7.25 an hour now.9 Despite this, the average price of a home in the 1950s was $7,354 (approximately $77,167 now); the average price for a home now is around $236,400 as of 2006.8 They’re already working harder to help close this gap. It is pertinent to note that some of the most elite of these young men and women are working an average of 67 hours a week, according to the Forbes 30 under 30 lists. With this kind of data and inflation, no wonder they are a lot more skeptical about their finances.
#8. They Are Incredibly Independent
While this may not add too much, the average age of a Gen Z’s entry into the workforce is around the ages of 16 to 18 years, rather than heading straight into college.1 For companies, this makes them an asset. They can quickly research anything at the tip of their fingers and have spent years perfecting this research process. While they may be new to the existing workforce, they can think outside of the box and work faster and harder than many of their predecessors. From their employers, they desire stability and fairness, above all else. They aren’t willing to work without getting the pay that they deserve. More and more employers are changing the way that they interact with their employees because of this. In such financially uncertain times, it’s easy to see why.
#9. They Are Entrepreneurial
Because of this incredible independent spirit, Gen Z’s have become far more entrepreneurial than the previous generations. Being tech-savvy and having access to nearly anyone on the planet is helpful to this aspect; many can start businesses for themselves. In the most recent Forbes 30 under 30 lists, this generation has its own incredible list—all under the age of 25 years old. Among them is inventor Hannah Herbst, at the age of 17, created a device, called BEACON, to harvest energy from ocean waves and is hoping to use it to produce power and clean drinking water for underdeveloped countries.7 Khaled Khatib, at the age of 21, also appeared on the list as cinematographer for the documentary on the White Helmets, the humanitarian group in Syria who helped following an earthquake in the region, saving dozens of people.7 Don’t forget Vitalik Buterin, who at the 23-year-old created the company Ethereum, the blockchain program responsible for bitcoin.7 Yeah, that bitcoin.
#10. The Future Is A Scary Prospect for Them
With all the economic instability these days, who isn’t scared? Gen Zs grew up in this kind of fluctuating environment. Many of Generation Z hope to break the trend of the renter-minded Millennials and be able to purchase their own homes, but with the skyrocketing prices of homes, they’ll have to work an insane amount of time to achieve those goals.2 They battle the predisposed idea of college and higher education when there are previously uncharted territories of the Internet landscape to make a living. Don’t forget to mention that the usefulness of college degrees is being diminished over the years and that the cost for most of them greatly outweighs the potential income that they’ll receive in a given career. (NB. To gain some perspective about this notion of getting a college degree, you may want to read my other article, “Is a University Degree Important these Days?” ). No matter the difficulty, they seem to be able to pull through in the end.
In the era of school shootings, social injustice, and political and economic instability, Generation Z somehow still manages to find little joys in the world they grew up in. They can transform their hobbies into businesses to own and control from a young age. They find entertainment in their temporary celebrities and the latest gadgets. They still hope for the opportunity to own their own homes and to create a future that they’d be proud of, and ultimately, they deserve. They’re moving mountains while they’re still being treated like children who have no voice. Sometimes, it’s easy to overlook that the world is happening to them, not around them. They see things that they’re unhappy with and vocalize the change that they want to see in the world—in-person or virtually, it doesn’t matter.
Previous generations regularly contemplate the newest ones, how they differ from the “norm” that was before, but each generation shapes the one following it. This creates a group with different ideas that see the world in a different light. The men and women of Generation Z sit in a unique position when compared to other generations. They are in the place where they can use the newest advancements in technology to shape future generations in ways we still can’t foretell. They keep innovating to create a world better for everyone around them, not just themselves. They work to create jobs and careers for themselves where none was before. They’re innovative and headstrong and will keep moving mountains, as long as we keep setting up mountains before them to conquer.
- Beall, G. (2017, November 06). 8 Key differences between Gen Z and millennials. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-beall/8-key-differences-between_b_12814200.html
- Biggs, C. (2018, October 22). Millennials: Gen Z is coming for your homes. Retrieved from https://www.domino.com/content/generation-z-real-estate-trends-2018/
- Bryant, M. (2016, March 03). 20 years ago today, the World Wide Web was born. Retrieved from https://thenextweb.com/insider/2011/08/06/20-years-ago-today-the-world-wide-web-opened-to-the-public/
- Computer History Museum. (n.d.). Timeline of computer history. Retrieved from http://www.computerhistory.org/timeline/computers/
- Gooden, D. (n.d.). Drew Gooden. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTSRIY3GLFYIpkR2QwyeklA
- Hamilton, B.E., Matthews T.J., & Ventura, S.J. (2013). Declines in state teen birth rates by race and Hispanic origin. (Report No. 123). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db123.pdf
- Howard, C., & Sportelli, N. (Eds). (n.d.). Presenting the 2018 30 under 30. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/30-under-30/2018/#1999ca7f1aaf
- Ramsey, D. (n.d.). Housing trends since 1950: The difference will shock you. Retrieved from https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/housing-trends
- United States Department of Labor. (n.d.). Wage and hour division (WHD). Retrieved from https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/wages/minimumwage
iBrains or Generation Z concept. Member of so called selfie generation in white casual canvas shoes standing over the title, top view
Gen Z concept with young woman on blue background
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Highlighted English word "sex education" and its definition at the dictionary.
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Generation Z in word collage. Marketing and targeting concept