Monday, 6 February 2017

Generation Z

by Lana Watt

First came Generation X, then Y (the Millennials) and now Z. Also known as the Post-Millennials, Centennials or the iGeneration, we are the children born in the late 1990s to early 2000s and make up over 27% of the global population and are usually the deciding factor between Generation Y and Z is whether or not you are old enough to remember 11th September, 2001; if you can, you’re a Millennial, if you can't, you’re a Centennial. But what does this mean for us? We are the generation of the future, so what happens to us now will affect what this future will look like.

As suggested by our name, iGeneration, we have become obsessed with technology; we have grown up learning how to swipe, tap and pinch. But how has this impacted us? Around 80% of American teenagers use some form of social media, but since the launch of platforms such as Snapchat, there has been a regression in the use of sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which took off during the adolescence of the millennial generation. We have become so focused on not leaving evidence of our activities and being able to keep things 'off the record' that most teens are preoccupied in disabling their geolocation on their phone and favoring forms of communication that self-destruct or disappear such as Snapchat.

Our obsession over technology, the constant need to have the latest, greatest gadget has also impacted our mental processing. Studies have shown that 16 year olds today are more apt at thinking in 4D, meaning our space-perception is enhanced so we are more concerned with ‘how’ things work (processes) compared to the baby-boomer generation who were occupied with ‘what’ is in things (content). The change in our use of media has also affected our processing speed. We process information much faster than millennials, but our attention span is significantly less than the previous generation's. This may be due to faster apps such as Snapchat and Vine, where a message is conveyed in a matter of seconds.  

The use of instant social media has led to a more ambitious generation. Roughly 72% of teenagers say that they want to start and run their own business one day. But it has also created a generation where we never settle for one thing. It we do not get instantaneous results, we are dissatisfied and are more susceptible to feelings of failure. This may affect more than just our work lives, though; a Future Forecast study predicts that throughout our lives Generation Z will have roughly 17 jobs and move house 15 times.

We are a generation orientated around our next social appearance, whether that be a like on Instagram, a new profile picture on Facebook or a post to a blog. The constant decision to make an impression on everyone we come across yet the need to be undetectable and invisible are two ends of the scale when it comes to our relationship with technology and social media.  We must be noticed yet we have to be able to delete our digital footsteps, as we now live in a technological age where everything you do online is traceable and can be used against you.

Generation Z is much like an in-between generation; we weren’t born with iPads in our hands but we still grew up with them (later on) so are capable of using them and adapting to new technology. We live in world where everything is so fast paced and accessible, that when we can’t achieve something quickly, we fear under-performance. Living in a fast paced environment impacts us in more than one way, we are constantly striving to find the next-best thing, and this makes us ambitious and brave, but we also go too quickly that we miss out things such as patience and perseverance. Gen Z has both its ups and downs, just as every generation before us has had. 

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