Who is Generation Z?
Homelanders, Zees, Digital Natives, Generation Edge,
Hookup Generation, Mobile Natives, Bubble-Wrap Kids iGen, Screenagers
Homelanders, Zoomers, Digital Natives, Screenagers. Who is Generation Z? They are all of the above, the so-called iGen bubble-wrap generation. Most Gen Zs have been raised by overprotective Gen-Xers, who have responded to their own marginalized childhoods by becoming helicopter parents. Generation Z comes after the Millennials and before Generation Alpha.
Definition: Who Is Generation Z? What Are The Years?
What Years Are Generation Z?
The years for Generation Z are debatable and vary widely among demographers, sociologists, psychologists, historians, government agencies, and marketing firms. History is still unfolding and until Gen Z has come of age we won’t know the final parameters for sure. Here’s how some experts break it down in 2020:
- Neil Howe and the late William Strauss named Generation Z the Homeland Generation or Homelanders, for short. In their book, Generations they identified the birth years for Gen Z as 2005 to the present age. Thus, in 2020, the oldest Gen Z would be 15 and the youngest would be less than a year old.
- In 2019, Pew Research defined Generation Z’s birth years as 1997 to 2020. This provides a current (2020) age-range of 8 to 23 years old.
- Jean Twenge, a popular psychologist whose body of research is in generational differences, defines the starting point for Generation Z as 1995. Her preferred reference for Gen Z is iGen.
- Nancy B. Nessel, a Gen Z marketing consultant, defines the years as 1996 to 2010.
Typically, generations stem from similar life experiences. Depending on where you grew up and your birth order, you may identify with one generation more than another, particularly if you were born on the cusp. Noting the simple definition of a generation found at Dictionary.com is a worthwhile exercise:
- The entire body of individuals born and living at about the same time…
- The term of years, roughly 30 among human beings, accepted as the average period between the birth of parents and the birth of their offspring.
- A group of individuals, most of whom are the same approximate age, having similar ideas, problems, attitudes, etc. (Compare Beat Generation, Lost Generation, etc.)
- A group of individuals belonging to a specific category at the same time…
Ultimately, a person must decide for him or herself where they belong. In my opinion, people should claim the generation whose collective persona most reflects their own life experiences.
Generation Z Ages | How Big Is Generation Z?
As a fan of the Strauss and Howe generational theory, I follow their birth years and/or age ranges for all generations. Thus, the age range for Generation Z as of 2020 is 0 to 15. In 2020, the first Homelander turned 15 years old, and the youngest was born.
The birth years used to define Generation Z impacts the size of the generation in America. Using Strauss and Howe’s range, there are about 70 million Gen Zs.
There are about 319 million people in America and more than 25 percent of them are under 19. Thus, the size of this generation is somewhere between 70 and 80 million.
Names for Gen Z
When I began blogging about Generation X in 2007, almost nobody referred to Millennials as Millennials. We called them Generation Y or Ys. It quickly changed overnight, however, based on a popular article about their coming of age. I’m not sure the name Generation Z will stick, although my kids seem to really like it.
Here are some of the names historians, psychologists and marketing experts have used for Generation Z.
- Homeland Generation or simply Homelanders
- Digital Natives
- Generation Edge
- Hookup Generation (Research Tinder and Kik apps, etc., to understand more.)
- Mobile Natives
- Bubble-Wrap Kids (because of Generation X helicopter parenting)
To understand how the name Generation Z formed, you have to go back to Generation X. Following World War II, Magnum photographer Richard Capa did a photo essay about featuring young people who came of age after the war. He called them Generation X because their futures were unknown.
Generation X Parents
In 1964, Jane Deverson wrote a story about British teens for Woman’s Own Magazine. Highlights included teens who hated the monarchy and slept together before marriage. The article was never published, however, because the editors thought it was too controversial. Deverson then collaborated with Charles Hamblett who published her research and titled it Generation X. In 1976, Billy Idol borrowed the title for his band, Generation X.
In 1991, Douglas Coupland cemented the name Generation X in the history books with his novel, Generation X: Tales For An Accelerated Culture.
Furthermore, the generation born after Generation X was called Generation Y. It’s been given many other names like Echo Boomers, Net Generation, and Millennial Generation. In the spirit of X, Y, and Z, the generation that came after Gen Y was naturally called Generation Z. This name has had more staying power than Y, because, in my unscientific opinion, Z is a fun letter — the coolest member of the alphabet.
The Zs or Homelanders are still evolving, but its collective persona has already been fleshed out by many historians, marketers, and sociologists. Some have characterized the generation as rebellious, while others describe them as do-gooders. Perhaps both attributes are accurate. One thing is for certain: Gen Z wants to change the world. They might still be a bit naive, but when it comes to the enormous problems we face globally, they are unflappable. They are cause-oriented and interested in tackling a myriad of problems and crises. This is illustrated so well in a famous TED talk from young Logan LaPlante. Still, the generation has huge, even apocalyptic fears about the future.
Who Is Gen Z? | Characteristics
To help you understand exactly who is Generation Z, I’ve compiled the following list of characteristics commonly associated with them. Keep in mind, I am a writer and this is secondary research. I have never conducted any primary research on Generation Z.
- Ability to Process Massive Amounts of Information
- Addiction to Electronic Devices
- Adept at Research
- Diversity, Plurality
- First True Global Culture
- Empowered Customers
- Environmentally Conscious
- Empowered Customers
- Entitlement Issues
- Fears of the Apocalypse
- Latent Fears (The Future Isn’t Bright)
- Morally Conservative
- Prefer Face-To-Face Communication
- Philanthropic; Do-Gooders
- Speed Over Accuracy
- Socially Empowered, Responsible; Focused on Social Justice
- Technology Literate
- Worried About The Future
Historical Events That Have Shaped Generation Z
Soon I’ll be 60 years old, my daddy got 61
Remember life and then your life becomes a better one
I made a man so happy when I wrote a letter once
I hope my children come and visit, once or twice a month
7 Years, Luke Graham, 2015
Other than their parents, nothing has shaped Generation Z more than technology. Despite the helicopter parenting of Generation. Zees have had unfettered access to the Internet. They’ve been called the iGeneration and screenagers for their emotional attachment to smartphones and tablets, etc. Because of too much screen time, they’ve also been called the Distracted Generation.
Social media has significantly impacted the relationships and self-esteem of Generation Z. These impacts have at times manifested themselves in sexting, cyber-bullying, Facebook mourning, and the Werther Effect. Many parents now attempt to keep their kids off Facebook for as long as possible, especially since social media is now linked to depression in kids and teens.
There are also concerns that the Internet is actually making our kids stupid, however, most experts cite the high intelligence and advanced problem-solving skills of Gen Z.
War on Terror
The War on Terror and severe economic recession have also shaped Generation Z. None of them remember life before 9/11, and many came of age with Occupy Wall Street. Generation Z’s parents worry constantly that their children will fall out of the middle class. When they aren’t worried about their financial futures they worry about things like the rise in opiate use and the epidemic of texting while driving.
The following is a list of things that have shaped Generation Z. You can think of others, please share them in the comments section.
- COVID19 and the Global Pandemic
- Climate Change
- Black Lives Matters (George Floyd, 2020 Riots)
- War On Terror, ISIS
- Columbine, Sandy Hook, and the Aurora Shooting
- Severe Economic Recession (And their parent’s crushing debt)
- Helicopter Parenting/Over-parenting by Generation X
- Tiger Moms (Overly strict, Hyper-focused on academic prowess)
- The Advancing Global Society
- Social Media including Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Whisper, etc.
- Global Warming
- Screens: TV, tablets, smartphones, desktops, laptops
- Cyber-bullying, Sexting
- First Black President
- Gangnam Style
- Harry Potter
- Percy Jackson
- Hunger Games
- Japanese Pop Music
- Korean Pop Music
- Viral Videos
- YouTube Celebrities
- YOLO: You Only Live Once Philosophy
- VSCO Girls
- Marvel Series, Avengers End Game
Gen Z’s Favorite Television Shows
Popular TV Shows (1996-Present)
Here are a few dozen TV shows watched by Generation Z. Ultimately, their lives have been filled with an enormous about of screen time.
Adventures of Jimmy Neutron
Bear In The Big Blue House
Big Time Rush
Bob The Builder
Clifford The Big Red Dog
Dora The Explorer
Lilo and Stitch Series
Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards
Phineas and Ferb
Sid The Science Kid
Spider-Man Animated Series
The Clone Wars
The Fairly Odd Parents
The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
Thomas the Tank Engine
Wizards of Waverly Place
Yo Gabba Gabba
Gen Z Infographics; Key Posts
I have published a couple of dozen posts about Gen Z since 2009. In addition, I even started #GenZChat on Twitter, but have not had time to keep it going. I love learning about this generation because I want to understand my children better. The world in which they are coming of age is far different from mine. Practically everything about their lives is different from mine! The following are links to most of the posts I’ve labeled or tagged Generation Z.