In today’s world, individuals rise to fame through social media posts, electric cars turn from dream to reality and the Internet is not just a luxury, but vital to the daily life of most people. These realities contribute to the standards for each young person who make up the generation known as Gen Z.
The current Ursuline body, and many classes to come, is constructed of Generation Z girls. But what is Generation Z? Who makes up this new generation, what does it embody and for what values does it stand?
Gen Z includes people born in the mid-1990s to the 2000s, the time period of the commencement of the technological age. Therefore, every Gen Z individual grew up with complete knowledge and understanding of the Internet, computers, cell phones and more.
According to U.S. consultants Sparks and Honey, “In 2014, 41 percent of Generation Z spent more than three hours per day using computers for purposes other than schoolwork, compared with 22 percent in 2004.”
Although older generations often warn their younger, more technologically proficient counterparts about their addiction to social media or their inability to set their phones down, the Huffington Post notes that Gen Z stays better connected to friends and family than other generations. They are also more prepared to adapt to new waves of technological advancements.
However, although Gen Z-ers may hate to admit it, their elders hold some truth in their complaints. According to Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the author of Generation Me and iGen Earth. “[Generation Z} is less “face to face”, and thus feel more lonely and left out.”
These patterns spark concern, and the statistic serves as a precaution to the rise of technology and its pros and cons.
All of these advancements in tech have shaped Gen Z by affecting the characteristics which make up their personalities. A book, Generation Z Goes to College by Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace “found that Generation Z students self-identify as being loyal, compassionate, thoughtful, open-minded, responsible, and determined.” However, “how they see their Generation Z peers is quite different from their own self-identity. They view their peers as competitive, spontaneous, adventuresome, and curious—all characteristics that they do not see readily in themselves.”
Gen Z embodies the characteristics of curiosity and open-mindedness through an eagerness to understand all of the new developments they encounter during this modern time. However, because Gen Z-ers rely more on technology and other people rather than themselves, they often lack the independence that past generations have prided themselves upon.
Gen Z, although perhaps not as individually independent, certainly stands out from all other generations because of dramatic cultural changes, some of which include the decrease of personal privacy, the decline of a mainstream pop culture and popular redefinition of gender, family and race.
Possibly to their own surprise, Gen Z stands as the most risk-averse generation, even in minor ways. A study from 2013 shows that 8 percent of teenagers never or rarely wear a seat belt when riding in a car with someone else, as opposed to 26 percent in 1991.
Gen Z’s education may have contributed to the prevalent wise choice of wearing a seatbelt, as according to a Northeastern University Survey, “81 percent of Generation Z believes obtaining a college degree is necessary in achieving career goals.”
Gen Z is a complex generation still on the rise, meaning researchers remain in the midst of observing its members’ characteristics, behavior and values. As a generation, it goes by many names, including “iGeneration” and “The Founders.” However, no matter the name, this generation cannot be described briefly or simply.
President of MTV Sean Atkins attempted by saying, “They have this self-awareness that systems have been broken, but they can’t be the generation that says we’ll break it even more.”
With this observation, Atkins offers an optimistic faith in Gen Z and grants these young people with hope for their construction of the future.
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