I wish you could meet Lizzy. Or Dane. Or, for that matter, Seth and Carly. These students have all been born since September 11, 2001—a marker in our U.S. history that will always divide those born in the 20th century from those born afterward. I was with these students recently and immediately noticed a different perspective in them as teens than the one I saw in Millennials fifteen years ago.
At Growing Leaders, we work with both teens and twenty-somethings, helping them move from backpack to briefcase and become leaders along the way. After being in front of thousands of these younger students, I want to offer a list of defining characteristics I’ve seen in them as teens. Keep in mind, 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 Generation Y kids were in the 90s. They tend to be more realistic not idealistic, seemingly jaded from the tough economy, terrorism and complexities of life.
2. They are Private
Perhaps its 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 and Whisper have seen explosive growth in the last few years. In contrast, Facebook has lost 25 percent of this demographic since 2011.
3. They are Entrepreneurial
Like Millennials, these students plan to be pioneers, not merely settlers in a career. 72% of current high school students want to start a business. They feel like hackers, not slackers. Since they’re more jaded, they know life is hard and requires work.
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 2 screens like Millennials. Get ready to communicate to them while they look around, not into your eyes.
5. They are Hyper-aware
Generation Z has communicated enough with marketing researchers and academics to reveal that they experience: 4D Thinking. Because their minds are streaming in so many directions, they’ve become post-moderns who are hyperaware of their surroundings.
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.
So…are you ready for these kids?