A quick look at the upcoming generation, sometimes referred to in the press as 'Generation Z'.
You must have heard the phrase “Generation Snowflake”. The word ‘snowflake’ has become an insult; implying someone who thinks they’re special and easily takes offence. Newspaper headlines and commentators have been referring to millennials (and post-millennials) as ‘Generation Snowflake’. They use ‘millennials’ as a blanket term to cover all young people, but according to Pew Research1, the oldest millennials are turning 37, and anyone born from 1997 onwards are being classed as a whole new generation: Generation Z or ‘post-millennials’.
So what do we know about Generation Z?
- Generation Z are the children of mostly Generation X parents, and according to research, are tipped to be a highly entrepreneurial generation. This is thought to be because their parents have taught them to be more independent, because life was difficult for Generation X. They were brought up in a time of economic difficulty. This generation are facing a combination of the reality and independence their parents have taught them, and the dreams of their millennial older siblings.2
- According to statistics coming out of America, 41% of Gen Z are committed to church (at the same stage when they looked at Generation Y ‘Millennials’, it was only 18%).3
- Generation Z are the first generation to be completely digitally native. They can use computers better than most parents. Unlike millennials, they have never not had technology. It’s an integrated part of their lives – it’s a way of continuing their social interactions. The most popular apps are Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, with Facebook falling pretty low on the list. In answer to the question “Would you call yourself addicted to your digital devices? (computer, smartphone, etc.),” they are 25% more likely than Millennials to say they are addicted to their digital devices. A full 40% of Gen Z are self-identified digital device addicts.4
- At least in America, Generation Z is recorded to be the most racially diverse and one of the most inclusive generations yet (44% of Gen Z are non-Caucasian).
- In an article on The Guardian’s website, it says this about Generation Z’s mental health: “A World Health Organisation survey carried out in 42 countries in 2013/4 found that young men and women in the UK are among the least satisfied with their lives, particularly 15-year-olds in England and Wales. The survey (which measures life satisfaction in relation to everything from relationships with family to school, mental health and drug use) showed that the highest rate of anxiety and health worries occurred among teenage girls in England, Wales and Scotland. According to the NSPCC, the biggest concern of young people calling its ChildLine in 2015/16 was mental health issues, accounting for 31% of telephone counselling sessions.”5
Generation Z seem to be shaping up to be a generation of activists, the most recent example of this was the video of 18 year-old Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the latest school shooting in Parkland, Florida. It spread quickly online and Emma, along with a group of her friends, all teenagers, formed a gun advocacy group “Never Again” and are campaigning for gun control in America.
The next generation are clearly ready to stand up and fight for what they believe in. Maybe ‘snowflake’ isn’t the best word to describe them after all. But what do they think about God?
The Christian charity Youthscape recently conducted a survey about the questions young people are asking about God. Apparently, some of the young people they interviewed stressed the importance of personal experience, that “unless you experience something, it’s not worth debating or questioning; questioning is futile”. It was also noted that “It is less about facts or testimonies or historical accuracy, but about personal experience.”6
For more information, go to Youthscape’s website here and read through some of their research.