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Generation Z

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Generation Z (or Gen Z), also known by a number of other names, is the demographic cohort after the Millennials. Demographers and researchers typically use the mid-1990s to mid-2000s as starting birth years. There is little consensus regarding ending birth years. Most of Generation Z have used the Internet since a young age and are comfortable with technology and social media.


William Strauss and Neil Howe wrote several books on the subject of generations and are widely credited with coining the term Millennials.[1] Howe has said "No one knows who will name the next generation after the Millennials".[1] In 2005, their company sponsored an online contest in which respondents voted overwhelmingly for the name Homeland Generation. That was not long after the September 11th terrorist attacks, and one fallout of the disaster was that Americans may have felt more safe staying at home.[2] Howe has described himself as "not totally wed" to the name and cautioned that "names are being invented by people who have a great press release. Everyone is looking for a hook."[1][3][4]

In 2012, USA Today sponsored an online contest for readers to choose the name of the next generation after the Millennials. The name Generation Z was suggested, although journalist Bruce Horovitz thought that some might find the term "off-putting". Some other names that were proposed included: iGeneration, Gen Tech, Gen Wii, Net Gen, Digital Natives, and Plurals.[1][5][6]

Post-Millennial is a name given by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Pew Research in statistics published in 2016 showing the relative sizes and dates of the generations.[7] The same sources showed that as of April 2016, the Millennial generation surpassed the population of Baby Boomers in the USA (77 million vs. 76 million in 2015 data),[8] however, the Post-Millennials were ahead of the Millennials in another Health and Human Services survey (69 million vs. 66 million).[9][citation needed]

iGeneration (or iGen) is a name that several persons claim to have coined. Demographer Cheryl Russell claims to have first used the term in 2009.[1] Psychology professor and author Jean Twenge claims that the name iGen "just popped into her head" while she was driving near Silicon Valley, and that she had intended to use it as the title of her 2006 book Generation Me about the Millennial generation, until it was overridden by her publisher.[1] In 2012, Ad Age magazine thought that iGen was "the name that best fits and will best lead to understanding of this generation".[1] In 2014, an NPR news intern noted that iGeneration "seems to be winning" as the name for the post-Millennials.[10] In September 2018, Jean Twenge saw smartphones and social media as raising an unhappy, compliant "iGen", which she described as the generation born after 1995.[11][12]

Frank N. Magid Associates, an advertising and marketing agency, nicknamed this cohort The Pluralist Generation or Plurals.[13] Turner Broadcasting System also advocated calling the post-millennial generation Plurals.[14][15]

MTV has labeled the generation The Founders, based on the results of a survey they conducted in March 2015. MTV President Sean Atkins commented, "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."[16] Kantar Futures has named this cohort The Centennials.[17][18]

In American slang Generation Z is referred to as Generation Snowflake. According to a 2016 article by Helen Rumbelow published in The Australian: "The term 'generation snowflake' started in the United States. Parents cherished their offspring as 'precious little snowflakes', each alike but unique, or 'everyone is special'."[19] Claire Fox argues recent parenting philosophy led to parenting methods which "denied resilience-building freedoms that past generations enjoyed".[20] The term "snowflake generation" was one of Collins Dictionary's 2016 words of the year. Collins defines the term as "the young adults of the 2010s, viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offence than previous generations".[21]

In 2018, a New York Times survey saw support for the name Delta Generation or Deltas. The Times staff selected Delta Generation as its favorite label, with one submitter explaining, "Delta is used to denote change and uncertainty in mathematics and the sciences, and my generation was shaped by change and uncertainty."[22][23]

Statistics Canada has noted that the cohort is sometimes referred to as the Internet generation, as it is the first generation to have been born after the popularization of the Internet.[24] In Japan, the cohort is described as Neo-Digital Natives, a step beyond the previous cohort described as Digital Natives. Digital Natives primarily communicate by text or voice, while neo-digital natives use video or movies. This emphasizes the shift from PC to mobile and text to video among the neo-digital population.[25][26]

Date and age range definition

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary describes Generation Z as generation of people born in the late 1990s and early 2000s.[27]

The Pew Research Center defines "Post-Millennials" as born from 1997 onward, choosing this date for "key political, economic and social factors", including September 11th terrorist attacks. This date makes Post-Millennials four years of age or younger at the time of the attacks, so having little or no memory of the event. Pew indicated they would use 1997–2012 for future publications but would remain open to date recalibration.[28]

Bloomberg News describes "Gen Z" as "the group of kids, teens and young adults roughly between the ages of 7 and 22" in 2019.[29]

The American Psychological Association starts Generation Z at 1997.[30][31] The Futures Company,[17][18] marketing agency Frank N. Magid Associates,[13] and The Shand Group[32] use 1997 as the first year of birth for this cohort.[13]

Australia's McCrindle Research Centre defines Generation Z as those born between 1995–2009, starting with a recorded rise in birth rates, and fitting their newer definition of a generational span with a maximum of 15 years.[33] Sparks and Honey[34] and psychologist Jean Twenge[35][36] describe Generation Z as those born in 1995 or later. Randstad Canada describes Generation Z as those born between 1995–2014.[37][38]

In Japan, generations are defined by a ten-year span with "Neo-Digital natives" beginning after 1996.[25][26] A 2016 report from Goldman Sachs describes Generation Z as those born after 1998.[39]

Statistics Canada defines Generation Z as starting from the birth year 1993.[40] Statistics Canada does not recognize a traditional Millennials cohort and instead has Generation Z directly follow what it designates as Children of Baby boomers.[41]

MTV described Generation Z as those born after December 2000, for a survey conducted by the network regarding possible names for the cohort.[16] The American Marketing Association describes Generation Z as those born after September 11, 2001, suggesting the cohort should be dubbed Gen 9/11 arguing "all children born after Sept. 11, 2001, will experience a world totally different from all generations that preceded it".[42] The Asia Business Unit of Corporate Directions, Inc describes Gen Z as born between 2001–2015,[43] and Philippine Retailers Association describes Generation Z as born after 2001.[44] Author Neil Howe defines the cohort as people born from approximately 2005–2025, but describes the dividing line between Generation Z and Millennials as "tentative" saying, "you can’t be sure where history will someday draw a cohort dividing line until a generation fully comes of age".[3][4]


According to Forbes (2015), the generation after Millennials, Generation Z, which they defined as people born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, made up 25%[45][46] of the U.S. population, making them a larger cohort than the Baby Boomers or Millennials.[45] Frank N. Magid Associates estimates that in the United States, 54% are caucasian, 24% are Hispanic, 14% are African-American, 4% are Asian, and 4% are multiracial or other.[47]

Generation Z are often children of Generation X,[48][49][50] but they also have parents who are Millennials.[51] According to Public Relations Society of America, the Great Recession has taught Generation Z to be independent, and has led to an entrepreneurial desire, after seeing their parents and older siblings struggle in the workforce.[52]

A 2013 survey by Ameritrade found that 47% in the United States (considered here to be those between the ages of 14 and 23) were concerned about student debt, while 36% were worried about being able to afford a college education at all.[53] This generation is faced with a growing income gap and a shrinking middle-class, which all have led to increasing stress levels in families.[54]

Both the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Great Recession have greatly influenced the attitudes of this generation in the United States. However, unlike the older Millennials, Generation Z typically have no memories of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Since the oldest members were not yet cognizant when the 9/11 attacks occurred (or had not yet been born at that time), there is no generational memory of a time the United States was not at war with the loosely defined forces of global terrorism.[55][56] Turner suggests it is likely that both events have resulted in a feeling of unsettlement and insecurity among the people of Generation Z with the environment in which they were being raised. The economic recession of 2008 is particularly important to historical events that have shaped Generation Z, due to the ways in which their childhoods may have been affected by the recession's shadow; that is, the financial stresses felt by their parents.[57]

A 2014 study Generation Z Goes to College found that Generation Z students self-identify as being loyal, compassionate, thoughtful, open-minded, responsible, and determined.[58] 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.[58] In addition, some authors consider that some of their competencies, such as reading competence, are being transformed due to their familiarity with digital devices, platforms and texts.[59]

A 2016 U.S. study found that church attendance during young adulthood was 41% among Generation Z, compared to 18% for Millennials at the same ages, 21% of Generation X, and 26% of Baby Boomers.[60]

Generation Z is generally more risk-averse in certain activities than earlier generations. In 2013, 66% of teenagers (older members of Generation Z) had tried alcohol, down from 82% in 1991. Also, in 2013, 8% of teenagers never or rarely wear a seat belt when riding in a car with someone else, as opposed to 26% in 1991.[61]

Research from the Annie E. Casey Foundation conducted in 2016 found Generation Z youth had lower teen pregnancy rates, less substance abuse, and higher on-time high school graduation rates compared with Millennials. The researchers compared teens from 2008 and 2014 and found a 40% drop in teen pregnancy, a 38% drop in drug and alcohol abuse, and a 28% drop in the percentage of teens who did not graduate on time from high school.[62][63]

The Economist has described Generation Z as a more educated, well-behaved, stressed and depressed generation in comparison to previous ones.[64]

Use of technology and social media

Generation Z was the first generation to have widespread access to the Internet at an early age.

Generation Z is the first cohort to have Internet technology readily available at a young age.[65] With the web revolution that occurred throughout the 1990s, they have been exposed to an unprecedented amount of technology in their upbringing. As technology became more compact and affordable, the popularity of smartphones in the United States grew exponentially. Anthony Turner characterizes Generation Z as having a 'digital bond to the Internet', and argues that it may help youth to escape from emotional and mental struggles they face offline.[57] According to U.S. consultants Sparks and Honey in 2014, 41% of Generation Z spend more than three hours per day using computers for purposes other than schoolwork, compared with 22% in 2004.[66]

In 2015, an estimated 150,000 apps, 10% of those in Apple's App Store, were educational and aimed at children up to college level.[67] While researchers and parents agree the change in educational paradigm is significant, the results of the changes are mixed. On one hand, smartphones offer the potential for deeper involvement in learning[67] and more individualized instruction, thereby making this generation potentially better educated and more well-rounded. On the other hand, some researchers and parents are concerned that the prevalence of smartphones may cause technology dependence[68] and a lack of self-regulation that may hinder child development.[68]

An online newspaper about texting, SMS and MMS writes that teens own cellphones without necessarily needing them.[69] As children become teenagers, receiving a phone is considered a rite of passage in some countries, allowing the owner to be further connected with their peers and it is now a social norm to have one at an early age. An article from the Pew Research Center stated that "nearly three-quarters of teens have or have access to a smartphone and 30% have a basic phone, while just 12% of teens 13 to 15 say they have no cell phone of any type".[70] These numbers are only on the rise and the fact that the majority own a cell phone has become one of this generations defining characteristics. As a result of this "24% of teens go online 'almost constantly'".[70]

One study has shown that teenagers in 2012 were more likely to share different types of information than teenagers in 2006 were.[71] However, they will take certain steps to protect certain information that they do not want being shared. They are more likely to "follow" others on social media than "share" and use different types of social media for different purposes.[58] Focus group testing found that while teens may be annoyed by many aspects of Facebook, they continue to use it because participation is important in terms of socializing with friends and peers. Twitter and Instagram are seen to be gaining popularity in member of Generation Z, with 24% (and growing) of teens with access to the Internet having Twitter accounts.[71] This is, in part, due to parents not typically using these social networking sites.[71] Snapchat is also seen to have gained attraction in Generation Z because videos, pictures, and messages send much faster on it than in regular messaging. Speed and reliability are important factors in members of Generation Z choice of social networking platform. This need for quick communication is presented in popular Generation Z apps like Vine and the prevalent use of emojis.[61]

One study found that young people use the Internet as a way to gain access to information and to interact with others. Mobile technology, social media, and Internet use have become increasingly important to modern adolescents over the past decade. Very few, however, are changed from what they gain access to online.[72] Youths are using the Internet as a tool to gain social skills, that they then apply to real life situations, and learn about things that interest them. Teens spend most of their time online in private communication with people they interact with outside the Internet on a regular basis. While social media is used for keeping up with global news and connections, it is mainly used for developing and maintaining relationships with people with whom they are close in proximity. The use of social media has become integrated into the daily lives of most Gen Z'ers who have access to mobile technology. They use it on a daily basis to keep in contact with friends and family, particularly those who they see every day. As a result, the increased use of mobile technology has caused Gen Z'ers to spend more time on their smartphones, and social media and has caused online relationship development to become a new generational norm.[73] Gen Z'ers are generally against the idea of "photoshopping" (deleting imperfections in photos) and they are against changing themselves to be considered perfect.[citation needed] The parents of the Gen Z'ers fear the overuse of the Internet by their children. Parents dislike the ease of access to inappropriate information and images as well as social networking sites where children can gain access to people worldwide. Children reversely feel annoyed with their parents and complain about parents being overly controlling when it comes to their Internet usage.[72] Gen Z uses social media and other sites to strengthen bonds with friends and to develop new ones. They interact with people who they otherwise would not have met in the real world, becoming a tool for identity creation.[72]

According to Twenge, the negative side of the iGen is they are less "face to face" due to the extensive use of smartphones. They are also known to feel more lonely and left out.[74] The survey of U.S. teenagers from an advertising agency J. Walter Thomson claims that the majority of teenagers are concerned about how their posting will be perceived by people or their friends. 72% of respondents said they were using social media on a daily basis, and 82% said they thought carefully about what they post on social media. Moreover, 43% said they had regrets about previous posts.[75]

Jason Dorsey, who runs the Center for Generational Kinetics, stated in a TEDxHouston talk that this generation begins after 1996 to present. He stressed notable differences in the way that Millennials and Generation Z consume technology, in terms of smartphone usage at an earlier age. 18% of Generation Z feel that it is okay for a 13-year-old to have a smartphone compared with just 4% for earlier generations.[76][77][78]

The development of technology gave mobility and immediacy to Generation Z's consumption habits. The on-demand economy, defined as "the economic activity created by technology companies that fulfill consumer demand via the immediate provisioning of goods and service",[79] has made changes in the way goods or services are delivered to consumers. Only the generation that grows up in the center of this transformation period will establish themselves as an immediacy demanding consumer.

Research conducted in 2017 reports that the social media usage patterns of this generation may be associated with loneliness, anxiety, and fragility and that girls may be more affected than boys by social media. According to 2018 CDC reports, girls are disproportionately affected by the negative aspects of social media than boys.[80]

Researchers at the University of Essex analyzed data from 10,000 families, from 2010-2015.[81] Within each family, they examined children who had grown from 10–15 during these years, and assessed their mental health utilizing two perspectives; happiness and well-being throughout social, familial, and educational perspectives. At age 10, 10% of female subjects reported social media use, while this was only true for 7% of the male subjects. By age 15, this variation jumped to 53% for girls, and 41% for boys. This percentage influx may explain why more girls reported experiencing cyberbullying, decreased self-esteem, and emotional instability, more than their male counterparts.

Other researchers hypothesize that girls are more affected by social media usage because of how they use it. In a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2015, researchers discovered that while 78% girls reported to making a friend through social media, only 52% of boys could say the same.[82] However, boys are not explicitly less affected by this statistic. They also found that 57% of boys claimed to make friends through video gaming, while this was only true for 13% of girls.[82] Another Pew Research Center survey conducted in April 2015, reported that women are more likely to use Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram than men. In counterpoint, men were more likely to utilize online forums, e-chat groups, and Reddit than women.[82]

Cyberbullying is more common now than among Millennials, the previous generation. It's more common among girls, 22% compared to 10% for boys. This results in young girls feeling more vulnerable to being excluded and undermined.[83][84]

Arts and culture

According to Girls Gen Z Digital media company Sweety High's 2018 Gen Z Music Consumption & Spending Report, Spotify ranked first for music listening among Gen Z, terrestrial radio ranked second, while YouTube was reported to be the preferred platform for music discovery.[85] YouTube contains music from all musical genres and time periods, allowing Gen Z access to a wide variety of music which would not have easily been available to teens who came of age in the era of top 40 radio or MTV. Additionally, Soundcloud and Bandcamp allow Gen Z access to music from artists who are not yet signed to a music label.


According to a Northeastern University Survey, 81% of Generation Z believes obtaining a college degree is necessary in achieving career goals.[86] As Generation Z enters high school, and they start preparing for college, a primary concern is paying for a college education without acquiring debt. Students report working hard in high school in hopes of earning scholarships and the hope that parents will pay the college costs not covered by scholarships. Students also report interest in ROTC programs as a means of covering college costs.[87] According to NeaToday, a publication by the National Education Association, two thirds of Gen Zers entering college are concerned about affording college. One third plan to rely on grants and scholarships and one quarter hope that their parents will cover the bulk of college costs. While the cost of attending college is incredibly high for most Gen Zers, according to NeaToday, 65% say the benefits of graduating college exceed the costs.[87]

"Generation Z" is revolutionizing the educational system in many aspects. Thanks in part to a rise in the popularity of entrepreneurship and advancements in technology, high schools and colleges across the globe are including entrepreneurship in their curriculum.[88] Parents of Generation Z might have the image of their child's first business being a lemonade stand or car wash. While these are great first businesses, Generation Z now has access to social media platforms, website builders, 3D printers, and drop shipping platforms which provides them with additional opportunities to start a business at a young age. The internet has provided a store front for Generation Z to sell their ideas to people around the world without ever leaving their house.[89]

Political views

A 2017 survey produced by MTV and the Public Religion Research Institute found that 72% of Americans aged 15 to 24 held unfavorable views of President Donald Trump.[90][91] According to the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, U.S. members of Generation Z tend to be more conservative than Millennials. According to a survey of 83,298 Gen Z-aged students (defined here as those aged 14 to 18 in 2016) in the United States done by My College Options and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation in September and October 2016, 32% of participants supported Donald Trump, while 22% supported Hillary Clinton with 31% choosing to not vote in the election. The results were heavily divided along racial lines with White and Native American students favoring Trump by a 33-point and 20 point margin respectively, and Black and Hispanic students favoring Clinton by a 40-point and 22 point margin respectively. Asian students were more divided, favoring Clinton by a 10-point margin.[92][93] By contrast, in a 2016 mock election of upper elementary, middle, and high school students conducted by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump among the students, with Clinton receiving 46% of the vote, Donald Trump receiving 41%, and other candidates receiving 12%.[94]

In 2016, the Varkey Foundation and Populus conducted an international study examining the attitudes of Generation Z in twenty countries. Majorities of those surveyed supported same-sex marriage, transgender rights and gender equality.[95][96] Goldman Sachs analysts Robert Boroujerdi and Christopher Wolf describe Generation Z as "more conservative, more money-oriented, more entrepreneurial and pragmatic about money compared with Millennials".[97] According to a 2016 survey published from The Gild, a global brand consultancy, British Gen Zers, defined here as those born 2001 and onwards, are more conservative than Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers with respect to marijuana legalization, transgender issues and same sex marriage.[98] A study done by the Pew Research Center found that Generation Z in the U.S. has broadly similar views to Millennials on key political and social issues. For example, a majority believes that the government should do more to solve their problems.[99]

In a study conducted in 2015 the Center for Generational Kinetics found that American Generation Zers, defined here as those born 1996 and onwards, are less optimistic about the state of the US economy than their generation predecessors, Millennials.[100]

The March for Our Lives, a 2018 demonstration following the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting was described by CNBC as an indicator of the political power of Generation Z. Journalist Arick Wierson stated "politicians from both major parties should take note".[101] In March 2018, survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, themselves members of Generation Z, started to refer to themselves as the mass shooting generation, though school shootings such as the Columbine High School massacre have also been associated with earlier generations.[102] A piece titled "Dear National Rifle Association: We Won't Let You Win, From, Teenagers" published in March 2018 in The New York Times describes Generation Z as the generation after Millennials who will "not forget the elected officials who turned their backs on their duty to protect children."[103][104] However, according to The Washington Post, the average age of the attendees of the march was 49, with only about 10 percent of the participants being under 18.[105]

Employment prospects

Forbes contributor Kimberly Fries argues that Generation Z's valuable characteristics are their acceptance of new ideas and a different conception of freedom from the previous generations.[106]

Despite the technological proficiency they possess, Alexandra Levit of The New York Times argues that members of Generation Z actually prefer person-to-person contact as opposed to online interaction. As a result of the social media and technology they are accustomed to, she says Generation Z is well prepared for a global business environment.[107] Alex Williams argues that Generation Z no longer wants just a job: they want a feeling of fulfillment and excitement in their job that helps move the world forward.[61] Levit says Generation Z is eager to be involved in their community and their futures, and that before college, Generation Z is already out in their world searching how to take advantage of relevant professional opportunities that will give them experience for the future.[107]


Matt Carmichael, former director of data strategy at Advertising Age, noted in 2015 that many groups were "competing to come up with the clever name" for the generation following Generation Z.[108] Mark McCrindle has suggested "Generation Alpha", noting that scientific disciplines often move to the Greek alphabet after exhausting the Roman alphabet,[109][110] and "Generation Glass", for the digital glass screens that have become the primary medium of content sharing.[109][110][111] McCrindle has predicted that this next generation will be "the most formally educated generation ever, the most technology-supplied generation ever, and globally the wealthiest generation ever."[109]

See also


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External links

Further reading