I’ll admit it – I’m inordinately interested in generational generalizations and how they play out in society. I can remember exactly when this curiosity started. It was early 1998 and The Fourth Turning had just been released in hardcover. This turned me on to William Strauss and Neil Howe and their research on and theories about the interplay between generations.
They’ve focused quite a bit recently on the generation which has been rising behind my (X’er) generation. Dubbed Millennials or Gen Y, this is the generation which was born after the early 1980’s. It’s hard to believe that the oldest Y’ers are now close to 35 years old!
Since a generation typically spans about 20 years, it’s about time for the next generation to be rising. But what to call them?
I smiled today when I found, in the NY Times, the first article I’ve seen which both names and attempts to describe this generation – born in the late 1990’s into the 2000’s. The name given to these present eighteen year-olds and younger is the logical, but not creative, Generation Z.
According to The Times, these high-schoolers down to grade-schoolers, can be characterized as such:
Gen Z is already out in the world, curious and driven, investigating how to obtain relevant professional experience before college. Despite their obvious technology proficiency, Gen Zers seem to prefer inperson to online interaction and are being schooled in emotional intelligence from a young age. Thanks to social media, they are accustomed to engaging with friends all over the world, so they are well prepared for a global business environment…
Good thoughts to ponder as both my son (born 2001) and daughter (b. 2003) are firmly Z’ers. And of course so are the high school students that I teach (12th graders – b.1997; 9th graders – b.2000!).