Keep in mind that the jury is still out. While these attributes are on the radar screen now, the students are still young, and change is always in the wind. For now, however, it might do us some good pay attention to these six common characteristics of Generation Z:
1. They are Cynical
While the students I met were fairly happy and well-adjusted, they are not giddy like so many Millennial kids, such as myself, were in the 90’s. They tend to be more realistic and not idealistic, seemingly jaded from the tough economy, terrorism and complexities of life. They are always speculative about the things they are told. They expect the worst until they are proven otherwise, often times because they have been taught to do so.
2. They are Private
Perhaps it is because they watched their older siblings get in trouble from posting controversial content on social media, but younger teens don’t want to be tracked. Apps like Snapchat, Whisper, and others similar have seen explosive growth in the last few years. In contrast, Facebook has lost 25 percent of this demographic since 2011. These teens do not want any trace of what they are doing to be known without their approval.
3. They are Entrepreneurial
Like Millennials, these students plan to be pioneers, not merely settlers in a career. Over 70% of current high school students want to start a business. They feel like hackers rather than slackers. Since they are more jaded, they know life is hard and requires work. Yet, they all believe they have an idea that is worth it and able to succeed.
4. They are Multi-tasking
By almost every measurement so far, these Gen Z kids will take multi-taking to a new level. They prefer to be on 5 screens at once, not just 2 screens like Millennials. Get ready to communicate to them while they look around, not into your eyes. Though there are terrific studies which have been conducted to look to such as the Stanford Research on the topic of multi-tasking, these teens prefer to be doing more at once.
5. They are Hyper-aware
Generation Z has communicated enough with marketing researchers and academics to reveal that they experience “4-D Thinking.” Because their minds are streaming in so many directions, they’ve become post-moderns who are hyper-aware of their surroundings. Gen Z teens are extremely observant and are able to read people very well. Even though they may miss the small things that happen while they are on their devices, they are hyper-aware of the bigger picture because of these addictions and their attempts to multi-task.
6. They Technology-reliant
This one won’t surprise you. If we thought Millennials were addicted to technology, get ready for more. In surveys, these teens put technology in the same category as air and water. They cannot imagine living without being connected all the time. The majority of Gen Z admit they are addicted to their devices and say they spend hours every day on it. Their is a newer phenomenon called the “Phantom Vibration Syndrome” that most teens suffer from severely where their addiction and desire to be wanted makes them believe they feel their phone’s vibrating.
Identifying six characteristics of Gen Z is extremely difficult because of their constant changing. It is said that “generations” as we think of them – Baby Booms, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z, etc. – are practically over because culture today is changing so rapidly there are no true generations to be built on. My generation, the Millennials, were bracketed from the early 1980’s through the mid to late 1990’s because there was not any massive changes during this time as a whole. Today, however, the world is changing every year with new releases of the iPhone and such. But for better or worse, this is Gen Z, or something close to it.