Meet the Gen-Z: Who Are The Centennials?
It seems that we know all about the Millennials (aka much discussed Generation Y). Social researchers and journalists gave them quite a bad rap, labeling them lazy, entitled, and narcissistic before Gen-Y even had a chance to prove themselves. No wonder Millennials used to loath the word and reject it, telling that the media portrayal of them had nothing to do with the real people behind the stereotype. Later, they came to terms with it, redefined it and now relate to it.
However, this story never ends. Maybe, Millennials are finally accepting their name because a new generation of youth is coming of age. Now media will have another subject for discussion (or rather another scapegoat).
Ever wondered what is the next generation after Millennials? They are the Centennials or – if you prefer alphabetic order – Generation Z. Do they sound mysterious and alien? In many ways, they do.
Who is Who
The first ever list of generations was offered by Karl Mannheim in his 1923 essay, “The Problem of Generations.” Later Mannheim’s theory was applied to describe “The Greatest Generation” (young people, who fought in World War II), “Baby Boomers” (their hardworking optimistic children), and the geeky and independent “Generation X”. According to Mannheim’s theory, the youth has always been shaped by the great historical shifts (remember the Lost Generation of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald?)
Yet, today reality changes so fast that even being two decades apart, parents and children live in two separate worlds. The transition from analog to digital happened exactly within this timeframe, making a generation gap between Gen Y (born 1980 to 1997) and Gen Z (born from 1998 to 2015) wider than ever.
Gen-Z kids never knew the world before the advent of the Internet and mobile technology, so finding a common language may be quite a task for their parents. The video below will give you some answers, so you will be able to understand your Centennial teen better.
So, what is Generation Z? Although they have many traits in common with their Millennial parents and older siblings, they are different enough to form a distinct cohort.
Millennials matured along with the digital technology: they witnessed the transition and learned on the go. Yet, they still see it as a consumer good, a luxurious toy. Whereas Centennials are true digital natives. They are the first generation that never experienced the world before technology.
Hence, the relationship between generation Z and technology is more like that of fish and the water. They just cannot live without it. However, they are also more pragmatic about it, seeing their smartphones and other internet-enabled devices as indispensable tools of communication, exploration, and learning.
They are also kids that grow older younger. They abandon toys at the average age of four when they are old enough to play games on the computer. Yes, today five-year-olds do not want dolls and toy cars. They still get it, because of their parents’ nostalgia, but they have little interest in playing with them.
Furthermore, Centennials are slightly more serious and ascetic than Millennials. Maybe due to the fact, that on social media they are used to seeing reports about all kinds of adversity (such as school shootings) and often endure cyberbullying. They prefer basic wardrobe, do not care much about status symbols and are less dreamy than their parents, but instead more concerned about finding a job.
What about dreams then? Don’t they have them? Of course, they have dreams, like all the children before them. They want their job to be a dream job, but they are determined to create it themselves. Entrepreneurship and startups are going to be ubiquitous when Centennials are grownups. They do not put as much value into education as Millennials did. Instead, the Zs value practical skills, adaptability, and flexibility.
Another feature of Gen-Z that is notorious among parents and teachers alike is their short attention span – around 8 seconds. Quite annoying, isn’t it? However, this is not their fault. Rather it’s a defense mechanism that is very useful in the digital medium. Living in a world of information overload, they have developed a habit of filtering it quickly and zoning out.
What Should You Do?
Despite being hyper-connected, Centennials value face-to-face interaction very much. Your time, attention, and loving support are still the most precious things you can give them. Have meaningful conversations instead of lecturing, hear them out – and you will become the best friends despite all the differences.
They also need your help prioritizing information – teach them about which is important and credible and which is not. Critical thinking is a crucial skill in the digital world.
And how are you dealing with your Generation Z children?