They may all look young and technologically adept, but when it comes down to it, Millennials and members of Generation Z—also known as Gen Z—might as well be from two different planets. Despite not having exact cutoff years, with 1994 to 1997 babies in a gray zone, there are still plenty of distinctions between the two. It is important to explore how the two generations are different, as Gen-Zers quickly turn into the decision makers of the world and Millennials are losing their place as the new kids on the block.
The general time span for these cohorts are ages 24 to 40 for Millenials (born 1981 to 1997) and 6 to 24 for Gen-Zers (born 1997 to 2015). In other words, the entire CCHS student population falls under Gen Z.
The first generation to come of age in the digital era, Gen-Zers are internet natives, although it’s definitely not the first time you’ve heard this. Gen-Zers are known for always having their cellphones in hand and having a stronger and more natural relationship with technology than even Millenials do. They are quick with trends and inside jokes shared online that leaves even Millennials stumped.
The first generation to come of age in the digital era, Gen-Zers are internet natives, although it’s definitely not the first time you’ve heard this.
It’s what sets them apart from older generations that forms the first critique that comes to mind about Gen Z. Their untraditional work ethic brands them as lazy and detached from reality and others. From news to entertainment, they turn to the web for everything.
But this doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Gen Z is the most diverse generation of the U.S. and they have a higher emotional connection to social causes than other generations, especially with the environment and social justice. Social media brings light to urgent issues and it’s allowed Gen-zers to feel passionate about a cause and be empowered to have a voice, even behind a screen. Twitter and Instagram offer outlets to be politically active and with every year that passes, more and more Gen-zers gain a role in making national decisions. One in ten eligible voters in the 2020 election were a part of Gen Z, equating to 24 million with the opportunity to cast a ballot.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dampened this world of opportunities for Gen Z and has left them peering into an uncertain future. They are growing up at a very different time than Millennials.
But it’s these different formative experiences, from technological shifts to world events, that directly play a role in shaping people’s views of the world.
But it’s these different formative experiences, from technological shifts to world events, that directly play a role in shaping people’s views of the world. For Millennials, it was the attack on September 11, 2001, growing up in the aftermath of the deadly event’s social and political turmoil. Gen Zers are not old enough to share that experience. Nonetheless, they still have a set of values geared more to the left of the political spectrum, like Millennials, only furthered by growing up in the world’s largest health crisis.
Generational cohorts are important because they allow researchers to describe how the trajectory of views changes across generations, even neighboring ones. And from the way they interact with the world, respond to marketing and politics, view money and shopping among other views, Millenials and Gen Z are exceedingly different. They’ve been raised differently and as a result have different viewpoints on money and technology.
As COVID-19 has reshaped the social landscape we knew and has paved an uncertain future, it will ultimately be up to Gen Z to make it out and share their impact with the world.
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