We hear plenty of talk about millennials, but another group is boldly entering into the generation conversation: Generation Z.
College of the Canyons invited Dr. Corey Seemiller, a sociology professor, author and Gen Z expert, to discuss these up-and-comers at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center Thursday evening.
Students, faculty, and other guests came ready to learn about the new generation; and from acute social concerns to building strong relationships, Gen Z seems to be hitting the ground running.
According to Dr. Seemiller, Generation Z is made up of two groups: Big Z’s, born between 1995 and 2002, and Little Z’s, born between 2003 and 2010.
Those who make up Gen Z are unique in numerous ways, but one thing in particular sets them apart from earlier generations: “Generation Z is the first generation to ever have a digital footprint before they were born,” shares Dr. Seemiller.
Another unique and surprising quality of Gen Z is their frugality. “We call them the recession kids,” Dr. Seemiller explains.
She shared one instance in which her own 7-year-old, Gen Z daughter, while on a family road-trip, chose to save instead of spend the $10 bill given to her by her grandmother for souvenirs. Her reason: “in case we need it.”
Financially speaking, Gen Z’ers appear to be on the more conservative side; but when it comes to social concepts, they want nothing to do with labels and boxes.
In noticing differences between themselves and those around them, they seem to prefer a path of non-judgement.
They tend to favor individuality, and value interpersonal and social learning over working in groups. According to Dr. Seemiller’s research, this stems largely from a fear of being judged for not knowing enough about a given subject or not being “smart enough” to be a contributing member in a group.
One of the more concerning qualities of Generation Z, which Dr. Seemiller urges school campuses to consider, is the “lower levels of happiness” and “higher levels of stress” that are currently affecting the young generation – more so than any generation before it.
Dr. Seemiller thinks this may stem from a self-imposed pressure to “fix” the world that is being handed down to them by earlier generations.
Some of the concerns that seem to be weighing most on Generation Z include: the environment, human rights, corruption in politics, and interestingly enough, future inability to connect through actual conversation.
But as afraid as they may be of the world they’re entering into, the last thing they want to do is sit idly by. They see the work that needs to be done, and they are ready to take it on.
What is the end goal for Generation Z? Despite feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders, Dr. Seemiller remains hopeful about the “generation that just wants love and unity.”