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on Leading the Next Generation


How Generation Z Differs from Generation Y

The numbers are coming in from studies of younger teens, who are part of Generation Z (also known as “Homelanders”, these kids follow Generation Y). They are part of a population who grew up post-911, where terrorism is part of the landscape, a sour economy is all they remember, and uncertainty defines our mindsets.

In many ways, we need to stop assuming they’ll simply be extensions of Generation Y (or the Millennials). They are the younger counterparts to that older generation and have grown up with new technology that’s marked them. While Generation Y grew up with computers, Generation Z grew up with touch-screens. Their phones have always been “smart.” Bill Clinton is a president from history, and Madonna is an aged veteran…like Elton John or Michael Jackson. We live in a new day.

How Generation Z Compares to Millennials

1. While Generation Y spent money boldly and with few boundaries, 57% of Generation Z prefers saving money to spending it.

2. While Generation Y spent loads of time at the mall, Generation Z prefers shopping online for almost all their purchases… except for online games. Hmmm.

3. While Generation Y grew up during a strong economy, Generation Z is growing up in a time of recession, terrorism, violence, volatility, and complexity.

4. While Generation Y subscribed to everything social, Generation Z doesn’t want to be tracked, preferring Snapchat, Secret, or Whisper to communicate.

5. While Generation Y watched YouTube, Hulu and Netflix, Generation Z wants to co-create, live stream, and help to make up the activity as they participate.

6. While Generation Y loved sports and adventure, Generation Z sees sports as a health tool, not for play. Their games are inside. Teen obesity has tripled since 1970.

7. While Generation Y grew up with slightly longer attention spans, Generation Z has an attention span of 8 seconds. Approximately 11% have ADHD.

8. While Generation Y initiated text messages as a norm, Generation Z prefers communicating through images, icons and symbols.

9. While Generation Y worried about their growing social status and their “likes” on social media, Generation Z worries about the economy and world ecology.

10. While Generation Y enjoyed a life that revolved around them, Generation Z plans on coping with multi-generational households and marriages (400% increase).

According to a recent report from Sparks and Honey, these younger children and teens are from a smaller population that will be more about coping with reality than Generation Y, who was about virtual reality. For instance:

  • Their movies are Hunger Games and Divergent, where youth are being slaughtered and kids no longer feel as central to their world.
  • They multitask on five screens, not one or two. They experience FOMO: the “Fear Of Missing Out.” They try to consume it all.
  • They plan to get educated and start working earlier, but will be “school hackers” and not necessarily attend a liberal arts college.

On the other hand, they are growing up in America, where:

  • The average Gen Z kid receives $16.90 a week in allowance, translating to $44 billion a year.
  • They are a major influence on household purchases, including dinner menus, vacations, home furnishings and even family cars.
  • Three out of four wish their current hobby could become their full-time job. That was far more than Millennials reported when asked about it.

What do you observe in these younger students? Are you up on Gen. Z?


  1. Marisol Keyvanmanesh on August 15, 2014 at 7:17 am

    I see a trend (beginning with my children) of youth wanting to choose non-traditional careers; desiring to help make an impact on the world (peace corps); of wanting to have purpose and meaning.

    It is an exciting time….

    • James Karson on September 20, 2018 at 12:52 pm

      We can say all the trash we want about Gen Y and Z, but where is that going to get us? I’m a Centennial and I don’t agree with even half of this article. Gen Z was born into a world of technology, and that’s not our fault. You can say that we have bad manners and that we’re rude, but that’s only relative to a few of us. And also, who do you think taught those bad manners? HINT: previous generations. Most of us are trying to do our best in a screwed up world. Not trying to brag, but, take me for example, I’m in all honor classes, with a school rank of 16, I’m in ROTC, Aerospace engineering, and have gotten multiple requests from different colleges. What I’m trying to say is that you can talk trash about any generation that you want, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. We’re all trying to be the best that we can be,(some more than others).

      • alexxx on October 23, 2018 at 4:14 pm

        Haha you are less then the 1 in a million with that college shit, and im sorry i do agree gen Z are rude and impolite and self centered( not anyone but their own fault) that’s a gen Z thing blame everyone for everything. your whole speach was blaming other people or things for your screw up. im gen Y im not far from you and not just blasting you just please stop being like that and blaming everyone but yourselves

        • James on November 7, 2018 at 2:22 pm

          This entire comment is self-centered and biased. If it weren’t for close-minded and ignorant people like you, i’m sure most of these cynical kids you’re referring to wouldn’t be so disrespectful. We have our own style and our own way of doing things. Stop judging others and putting yourself on a pedestal. And the only reason we’re blaming you is because it is your fault. Not taking responsibility is just as childish as blaming someone else. You sound like your parents.

        • Kimberly on July 8, 2019 at 2:15 pm

          Thank you alex! I’m a part of Gen Z, a 15 year old who is currently ranked third in my class, going to take AP Physics, AP Statistics, and Pre-Calculus as a sophomore in high school. We really are doing our best. Look, both generations are screwed over. Wages are low, inflation is high. Housing costs are through the roof and taxes, especially where I live, are outrageous. As a generation, student loans are going to be an ingrained part of life, we have no choice. We’ve grown up with technology yes, but that really was not our choice. Yes, I enjoy technology and its various applications. It is so versatile and useful. But no, we are not rude, impolite, and self centered. If I may, I would like to point out which of the people in this conversation is the one who is throwing insults around. No, I’m not saying that my entire generation is good, but of course it isn’t. That is irrational and impossible. I am merely saying that we are not the people you think we are.

        • Arrion_therian on November 14, 2021 at 10:34 pm

          well Alex…I’m a Gen Z and I can say that not ALL of Gen Z is rude, impolite and self centered. If we had anyone to blame, it would be our parents for not raising us right. So before you start STEREOTYPING ALL of Gen Z to be naturally born assholes, take how we was raised into account.

      • Charyf on May 30, 2019 at 11:03 am

        Read the article again. No one’s talking trash, or calling anyone rude.

        • lia on September 10, 2019 at 12:01 am

          true though, as i can see it all the comments above are arguing over a an article that doesn’t really make any sense, sure some of it might be stating facts, but that is just allegedly half of it, i don’t agree with everything on the top, if you are one of the people that will always think that it’s on the generation that makes a person release an attitude well i think you should read more, i have met a millennial that is overly entitled she/he thinks they should be followed, and i have met one who is also super nice, and i also met centennials that are noisy as fuck, entitled brats as i should say, but yeah then again there are more of them that are nice. and don’t we think we should not judge a person based on what generation they belong to? also firstly the older generation is always in charged of education younger generation, it will all be a cycle for the next 10 years.

    • Gill C on November 21, 2018 at 8:28 am

      I think there’s some good points made by both sides here. We just remember that even with research data it is representative of the population but not 100% accurate and certainly cannot be applied to everyone in a generation. As a Gen X I believe younger generations get a lot of bad press, hence the reason why I believe the other generations need to start listening more instead of trying to impose their own views. I am currently writing a research masters project to find out what kind of boss/leader Gen Y & Z prefer. The idea being that employers should be preparing better for the inclusion of Gen Z in the workplace – if you are aged over 18 please fill out my survey

  2. JennaDeWitt on August 19, 2014 at 9:41 am

    “While Generation Y worried about their growing social status and their “likes” on social media, Generation Z worries about the economy and world ecology.” Really. Gen Z is what… 14 and younger? When the median-age Millennial was 14, texting was barely a thing and phones didn’t have color screens yet. I don’t see how this is possible.

    • GracieTaylor on October 10, 2018 at 3:32 am

      No no. Gen Z is 1996 to 2010 which would make the oldest in gen Z about 23. So please think before you post.

      • dylan harris on December 12, 2018 at 2:54 am

        she commented it in 2014, and you replied in 2018 :)))))

      • JKMNO (Noel) on April 30, 2019 at 10:07 pm


  3. NewStuffHawt on January 20, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    There are a few things right with this article but more things wrong…. Part of Gen Y here… Firstly, gen Y AND gen Z are both considered Millennials having been born roughly between 1980s – 2000. (Just one of many references: We have some differences, but a lot more similarities. We (gen Y) are the last generation to know what life was like before the internet, before everyone had personal computers, let alone smart devices. That gives us a unique perspective on the innovation of technology, having been born in a time when we could watch technology mature from one era to another at a very young age. This shaped our world view tremendously- the majority of us seeing and being taught that anything is possible. Things were exciting when we were born.. people had money… Our Baby Boomer parents gave us trophies for simply showing up to little league practice (regardless of how great or terrible we were, but that’s another story for a different article). The point is, we were encouraged. That is why when the economy tanked, gas prices rose, jobs disappeared and college tuition sky-rocketted yearly (what a beautiful recipe for an existential crisis, btw), many people of gen Y rejected the traditional career path and started from scratch. It was bumpy at first … and yes, we were whiny and complained loudly (who wouldn’t be when the promised pot of gold isn’t at the end of the rainbow after working your ass off to get there) … and fast forward 10 years later and we are on track to be the largest generation of successful entrepreneurs (gen X holds the trophy at the moment). We took an active role in innovating the moment we came of age. We were the first generation that (those who could afford to) rose the academic standard from an undergraduate degree to a graduate degree because more specialized knowledge was both in demand and necessary both personal and global progress. On the other side of the same coin, we’re the first generation to LARGELY accept that a diploma of any sort doesn’t actually mean anything if you can work smart, not hard, and innovate (I see you gen X). We. Get. Things. Done. Efficiently and Creatively…. and we hold everyone accountable. The best part is that we’re still young and relevant and FINALLY have some political power. Generation Z was born while we were floundering, scrawny little 18 year olds complaining about the economy. They were born into a huge mess and luckily don’t have a reference like we do of better times. They were also born when magical touch-screens and wifi in your pocket were a norm.. world knowledge at their fingertips from day one. I’m excited to see what’s in store from these guys… Most importantly they get to learn from our mistakes and it makes total since that they would be more cautious with their financial and social choices. I think that gen Y and gen Z (i.e. the Mils) are a good couple. The bold, creative wildling + the cautious observer, the innovator + the improver … gen Y + gen Z = Millennials, a tough act to follow.

    • Yevgeny Blinov on March 14, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      There is a theory of a cycle of 4 generations. If you look throughout the history, you can see it repeating itself every ~80 years, which correlates well with the theory. I don’t know the generations architype names, but I call them like this – Builders/Creators, Stabilizers/Rulers, Rebels/Distabilizers, Fixers/Cleansers.

      Builders build a new “civilization”, which means they establish new society norms, new moral ethics, new standards.

      After a new society is built, comes the Rulers/Stabilizers. They expand the new standards, take control of it, make it strong and stable. They become the rulers of the “modern world”. Of course, it also comes with a portion of corruption, establishing a background for a “rebellion”.

      Then come the Rebels, who put individualism and self-expression above the global needs. Tired of the corruption and the flaws of the “system”, they ruin all the standards the Builders have built before them. Just like the Builders, they are also very creative, but unfortunately egoistic.

      Born in times of crysis, seeing the damage the Rebels have done, come the Fixers/Cleansers. They focus on corporative work, put social and common needs above individualism. They tend to want to “fix the world”. Following strict rules they unite to “cleanse” all the bad from the world, and prepare a background for the new generation of Builders/Creators to start anew.

      Let’s compare them to the last few generations, starting with the Greater Generation (born between 1900-1920). They were what the Y generation is today – Rebels. These rebels caused WWI, WW2, The Great Depression, The October Revolution and all the wars of the 20th century. They literally “rebelled” against the already corrupt system.

      When WW2 was over, the Silent Generation (born between 1920-1940) came in motion. They united to fix the damage the wars have done, putting aside individualism for greater good.

      When the world was “fixed”, came the Baby Boomers (born between 1940-1960), who have “built” a new world as we know it today. Their focus was on culture, on new standards. We can see it well on music, starting with 50s.

      When the world was built, the X generation (born between 1960-1980) have stepped in. They turned the new world into a large global system, took control over it, expanded it, developed it. Unfortunately, they have also made mistakes, put a lot of garbage “under the rug”, for which the younger generations have to pay for.

      Millenials, or the Y generation (born between 1980-2000, or some say up to 1995), are the “rebels”. You can see how they refuse to give themselves to large companies and prefer building their own start-ups. Individualism and self-expression are their Gods. Unfortunately, many times their selfishness grows into egoism, which distabilizes the current system. Therefore, we see how the world is so uncertain, so messy.

      Z generation (born after 1995 or after 2000) are different from Millenials. They are driven by concepts of helping, volunteering, doing things for greater good. Look at the kids today. They are less selfish, more social, more caring and emphatic. They care about health much more than Millenials – for example, many of them are non-smokers. They remind the Silent Generation. They will fix the world and prepare it for a new “establishment”.

      The next generation, Alpha generation, are going to be the next “Baby Boomers”.

      • NewStuffHawt on March 19, 2016 at 10:29 am

        I like what you’ve done here and appreciate the amount of thought you put into it, but it seems a bit oversimplified. I can get behind people in my generation being the “rebels” and wanting change, but the truth is that you can look at any generation, pick an issue and assign it one of the categories you’ve listed based on that issue. For instance, one could easily say that the boomers were the rebel generation, changing the political and cultural face of America through Civil Rights, reinventing pop music with rebellious undertones (in the 60s/70s music industry professionals marketed artists based on whether or not they would upset parents… the more upsetting, the better the sales), War protests, the culture of college protests in general, etc… In comes generation X to clean up the domestic affairs and further enforce new social norms in the aftermath of the tumultuous decades previous…. All while laying a great foundation for the globalization of new technologies and businesses. Gen Y comes along and builds on this foundation with new innovative global technologies. The growing number of start ups makes since when you look at how rapidly technology has started to evolve. Gen Z… well, most of them haven’t left high school so your guess is as good as mine. I’m not saying that your suggestion is wrong and mine is right, just pointing out how arbitrary that line of reasoning can be based on what you’re looking at. Furthermore, Gen X was actually the most likely to *start* a new business after college and millennials are more likely to *be involved with* (includes work for) start ups after college. Gen X is still at it with the start ups now that they have a bit more capital to invest, and millennials are happy to work for them. If there is indeed a cycle, we’re not going to be good objective judges of where we’re at regardless of our dates of birth simply because everything is still happening. The best we can do here is look at each generation and give kudos and slaps on the wrists where it seems appropriate. Lastly, how is it possible to know what an entire generation is concerned with globally with the vast majority of them are under the age of 16? I work with the oldest part of the latest generation… they are interns in my office and they don’t seem very different from the youngest people in my generation. There’s obvious overlap and for that reason I can’t take this article seriously. Kids being nice to eachother on the playground doesn’t count as evidence.

    • Anonymous on September 6, 2017 at 5:40 pm

      Generation Z is not part of the Millennial generation, it is an entirely separate generation that immediately follows it. The thing is that generations tend to have a significant amount of overlap, and Millennials and Gen Z are no exception. Currently, the members of Generation Z that are adults were born during the cusp zone (1995-1999), so they have both Millennial traits and Generation Z traits much like someone born in 1980 would have both Generation X and Millennial traits.

    • Muriel Treille on January 12, 2018 at 1:07 pm

      I think this is a pretty good general assessment! I kind of struggle with the traits offered here, since I know that a lot of people my age (born in the early 1990’s) care just as much or more about the environment and personal development than generation Z-ers are said to be here! I also know youngsters (teenagers born in the mid 2000’s) who are entitled, techno-addicts who’ve been spoilt and taught zero manners by their parents…

    • James Karson on September 20, 2018 at 12:35 pm

      Actually, genZ is called the Centennials.

  4. Steven Gordon on April 23, 2016 at 6:38 am

    I’m born in 1994 but I think I’m more like generation Z then Y anyway I call generation Z the neglected generation because we left them a world of catastrophic abrupt climate change at a very young age

    • darth baul on June 28, 2016 at 9:02 am

      coz you are… you are as young as the Play station 1… and people still use it till today…

  5. shine dark on April 30, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    i know why my genaration is fucked up in my home town (generation y, 1994)

  6. Cedric Adams on September 21, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Most of those are true, I am myself known as Generation Y, in which is between 1980-2000. I have a young sister that is Generation Z and i can tell that she is focusing on technologies instead of go out and play with something. she got her phone when she was in 5th grade and i wont get my phone until 8th grade. we all can tell that Generation Z is pretty selfish with technology.

    • PolicemanBob on January 10, 2018 at 10:19 pm

      Late 2000 kids are, not as much for early 2000 kids. Gen Z should be 1995-2005, and 2008 kids have Millenial parents or late Gen X parents, and those parents are lazy and allow them to do whatever they want. I would consider your now younger sister in 6th grade, the start of the Alpha Generation. Gen Z has early Gen X and late Baby Boom parents, and late Baby booms (early 60s) are the same as 60 Gen Xs. They are great role models and helped skyrocket the economy in the 80s and 90s, the Boom ruined it in the 2000s. Gen Z will be good if it is 95-05, while I worry that Alpha Generation is allowed to much freedom and are addicted to electronics, and have awful parents (generally)

  7. Roy Jones on March 29, 2017 at 3:54 am

    I’m sorry but this was a dumb article. I came on here to find out whether I was a Millennial or not and I am but the things that are said like the economy and ecology? Come on, if it’s like that, then I know a few that were worried about global warming at a young age, myself included. This was so biased and just ridiculous at the same time. I bet I can speak for most when I say that I wish I had my 3 minutes back.

  8. Tessa Mattes on April 15, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    I was born in 1997, and I can say that a lot of my friends born in 96-99 feel really awkward being between Millennials and Gen Z. I think I consider myself (born in 1997) more of a Gen Z than a Millennial, honestly. I feel like Millennials are more like people who grew up in and actually remembered most of the 1990’s. I don’t really remember much of the 90’s at all, and I don’t specifically remember 9/11(I would’ve been 4 y/o during 9/11.)

    • Laura Wilson on May 18, 2017 at 11:44 am

      I definitely agree. I was born in the later half of 1998 and don’t know whether I fit in with Gen Z or Millennials (and the time-line as to when one generation starts and another begins around these years is cloudy with different years being stated by different people). I was raised by Baby Boomer parents so technically that would place me more in with the Millennials, but I relate just as much with Gen Z as I do Millennials. As you mentioned I was alive when 9/11 happened but don’t remember it, and my earliest memories are all from the 2000s. I am also part of the age group that had to wait to have a phone (and my first phone was my mum’s old dog chewed phone that only had the capability to call and text, and it wasn’t until I was 15 that I was allowed a new phone, that I had saved up for), but we were also young enough to grow up surrounded by ‘smart’ technology that became integrated with our school education. And whilst I agree that there are certain characteristics that are more apparent in a generation, no one will fit fully into the archetype and there are always exceptions that throw the stereotypes out completely. But for those of us born between these few years between 1996 and 1999, it is really hard to place which generation we belong into. We were born on the cusp of change and have managed to fall somewhere in the middle.

      • PolicemanBob on January 10, 2018 at 10:22 pm

        Gen Z kids didn’t have phones either, the 95-05 kids. I consider 06 and present to be Alpha, as they grow up with phones all the time now. And if your parents are late Booms, (early 60s), they have some kids in the early 2000s, and we’re different than the other boomers. They were born by the silent generation mostly. Gen Z will have a better impact if the researchers make the correct decision and have the date for Gen Z 95-05, as 03 kids grew up the wii, and ds, while Alpha gets phones at the age of 6.

  9. Hom Tom on October 1, 2017 at 3:36 am

    so I’m born in 1989 and I’m practically gen Z , I predicted this stuff back in highschool, that everyone will become like me and ill miss out. I date and hang out with people max age 21 and this seemed to happen organically. meh. but gen Z is loaded with problems that will explode in the future. lack of autonomy is first among those. I wonder what will happen in 12-18 years when my school friends kids will enter their teens.

  10. Nathan Sharp on November 12, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    I think generational studies are bS. Look back at the earliest literature on millenials. They made a lot of similar statements in optimism about them being more environmentally aware and diverse. Then when they came of age, they started dumping all over that age group. I expect something similar with Z. To predict that teenagers today will somehow be less abdorbed in virtual reality is laughable, considering that literal VR gaming consoles are starting to hit markets.

    • Tim Elmore on November 13, 2017 at 9:32 am

      Thank you for weighing in on the conversation, Nathan. I always encourage leaders to “eat the fish and spit out the bones” when it comes to generational studies. I also always encourage them to leverage any insights from these studies to help them better connect with and lead the next generation.

    • PolicemanBob on January 10, 2018 at 10:28 pm

      Nathan, it matters on how they grow up and what their parents are like. Gen X is a good generation, just like their parents, the Silent Generation. Gen Z is harder working and knows the Millennials failed, and they have to step up. Early Gen Xs are great parents, and even Kate booms, early 60s, are parents of Gen z, and they are great too, unlike the booms born in 40s and 50s. And just remember, it is just a broad view of people in an age gap. And, Gen Z should only be 10 years, 95-05, as 04 and 01 kids grew up with Wii, and Xbox 360, 07 and 09 kids grow up with phones at the age of 7. Also, they have different parents, and much worse parents too (Alpha Gen parents are Millennials and Xennials, who are lazy and narcissists, and don’t care to look for what their child is doing on the internet. And don’t feel upset if u r a millennial, they all aren’t bad, just generally, they have disgraced our country,

      • Brodie on January 18, 2018 at 1:25 am

        That’s a gigantic piece of rubbish. Millennials generally came of age around the Great Recession – being promised by our Boomer parents that there would be plenty jobs if we just took that massive student loan and went to University. We made due and created new companies. We survived increasing house prices, being locked out of the property market, and skyrocketing living costs to build this new economy with Xers. We are less cautious about money because of the resentment caused by having the promises and dreams installed in us as younger ones destroyed.

        Also Millennials, like Xers, are having children way later in life (thanks to financial insecurity and large student debts) so most of the Millennial children are just toddlers or young children at this point.

        • PolicemanBob on January 27, 2018 at 6:00 pm

          Came of age? Some of them were mid to late 20s at that age, that’s not (coming to age). And Xers had kids later than the millennial, probably by 3 years of difference. I am a Boom, and the boomers, your parents, had the highest taking of drugs and partying and drinking. Also, the Boomers are the ones fighting in our government right now, that is around their age. So in your argument, your blaming your parents, and that is right, but your generation is needy and has no loyalty to any of their jobs. And your generation is not known for creating many companies, the Boomers were the ones that made the companies. A lot of salt is coming from you, I’m sorry i hurt your feelings buddy.

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How Generation Z Differs from Generation Y