two young women getting ready for their graduation ceremonyBirth timeline of U.S. GenerationsSources: Pew Research Foundation and other sources

Meet Generation Z and Generation Alpha

Globally, Generation Z and Generation Alpha make up more than one-third of the world”;s population. Almost a quarter of the US population today is 18 or under, making Gen Z and Alpha the largest generations in the US population. It is estimated that there are roughly 80 million Gen Zs (born between 1997 – 2012) and Alphas (born after 2012) in the US today, and more are born each day.

Pie chart of Generations as a percentage of the U.S. population

So, who are they?

Are they a generation of amplified Millennials (aka Generation Y)? Yes. Everything changes, but not always in an opposite direction, and Gen Z takes some well-known Millennial traits to the next level. For example, Millennials may be tech natives, but Gen Z has digital in their DNA. Some even say Gen Z could swipe before they could walk.

When it comes to Millennials being known for pro-social concerns, Gen Z takes activism to another level. The Internet has made this an incredibly collaborative generation that is showing the world just how powerful a well-aimed tweet or YouTube video can be. Online, they create communities surrounding interests and causes, not geography.

Until now, Millennials were the most diverse generation ever. While Gen Z is about half white, in the next 4 years, more than half of this generation is projected to be majority-minority races/ethnicities. Gen Z will be the last generation in the US to be majority non-Hispanic White. The most diverse generation ever- and not just skin deep. Less than half identify as completely heterosexual and more than 1 in 3 Gen Zs consider themselves to be bisexual to some degree.

two young women cuddle at a Pride paradePhoto by Jana Sabeth on Unsplash

A sense of authentic uniqueness is very important to Gen Z. While connectivity to a community is important to them, they”;d rather stand out than fit in; it has never been so true that the “;label does not apply”;. They are less crowd-oriented than previous generations of teens, less concerned with finding popular options than in finding those that can stoke personal passion.

The new team emerges–;social circles are being formed around personal passions. Gen Zs surround themselves with a different group of friends to express each of their many facets. Where Millennials have a “;music friend”; and a “;tech friend”; Gen Zs have entire groups. Those different friend groups might even hate each other–;what”;s cool in one might not be cool in the other.

Where Millennials were friends with their parents and expect to be close with their children, Gen Zs see their parents as best friends. Gen Z parental relationships are marked by mutual respect. For Millennials, parents were buddies and cheerleaders, always encouraging them to follow their dreams. For Gen Z, parents are an integral part of the support system. Digital natives themselves, parents of Gen Z have adopted a “;stealth fighter”; parenting style, knowing when to strike and when to lay low. As a result, more Gen Zs see parents as collaborators and peers.

a black woman embraces her childPhoto by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

The Anti-Millennials

Having reviewed some key areas where Gen Zs are amped-up versions of Millennials, let”;s delve into part 2–;the Anti Millennial overview. Is Gen Z also anti-millennial? Yes! While Gen Zs have taken some well known Millennial traits to the next level, Gen Zs tend to blame Millennials for many of the world”;s issues and make an effort to adjust their behaviour accordingly. They look up to them, but they also look down at them and want to change the narrative.

The side hustle trend has continued from Millennials to Gen Zs, however, the evolution is such that Gen Zs are less interested in passion for passion”;s sake and much more focused on making sure that passion can pay. Gen Zs are passion-driven, but if that doesn”;t lead to financial stability, they need to find something else that will.

A passion that pays, tends to lead right into early specialization for the Gen Zs. In everything from entrepreneurship to sports, kids and teens are finding where they excel and focusing their efforts in hopes of a payoff as soon as they can get it. The daily show recently featured a 13-year-old “;shoe don”; with a warehouse worth $1 million in shoes.

neon sign says "fuel your passion"Photo by Randalyn Hill on Unsplash

Gen Zers are still teenagers, they want to have a good time, but they don”;t want the fun they have to negatively impact their future. We see this with how they use social media. Gen Z takes a much more crafted and curated approach. While Millennials post every detail of their lives on social media, Gen Zs are more aware of who they”;re sharing information with and how they think this affects their online identity.

With Gen Z we tend to see the return of cool (and uncool). While Millennials are all accepting and inclusive, Gen Z tends to be more snarky, exclusive, and very “;image”; aware. The reemergence of cool is not without consequences- as Gen Z is the most anxious generation, fueled by social media and personal image.

Millennials believe they can do/be anything and the world will support their efforts, while Gen Z has realistic expectations and are sceptical that their favour. After witnessing the financial crisis and subsequent struggle of their Gen-X parents, Gen-Z has money woes on its mind. Almost half of them worry about student loan debts despite not even having graduated from high school.

All that said, they”;re still young, fun, and undeclared as a group. This generation is just beginning to “;come of age”; -;as serious as they may seem, they”;re still kids and haven”;t quite figured themselves out yet.

The original version of this article appeared here.

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