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Who Is Generation Z?

VSCO Girl Who is Gen Z

A picture of a VSCO girl with scrunchies, Kanken, HydroFlask and Polaroid.

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.

Generation Defined

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 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)
  • iGen
  • Screenagers
  • Zees

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
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Entitlement Issues
  • Fears of the Apocalypse
  • Intelligence
  • Latent Fears (The Future Isn’t Bright)
  • Mature
  • Morally Conservative
  • Open-Minded
  • Prefer Face-To-Face Communication
  • Philanthropic; Do-Gooders
  • Resourceful
  • Self-Directed
  • 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.

Major Events

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
  • 9/11
  • 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
  • Technology
  • Screens: TV, tablets, smartphones, desktops, laptops
  • Cyber-bullying, Sexting

Cultural Touchstones

  • 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
  • Fortnite
  • Minecraft

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
Agent Carter
Bear In The Big Blue House
Ben 10
Big Time Rush
Bob The Builder
Clifford The Big Red Dog
Curious George
Dexter’s Laboratory
Dora The Explorer
Dragon Tales
Hannah Montana
Johnny Bravo
Kim Possible
Lilo and Stitch Series
Little Einsteins
Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards
Peppa Pig
Pepper Ann
Phineas and Ferb
Power Rangers
PowerPuff Girls
Reading Rainbow
Sesame Street
Sid The Science Kid
Sonic X
Spider-Man Animated Series
Sponge Bob
Strawberry Shortcake
Super Why
Teen Titans
The Backyardigans
The Clone Wars
The Fairly Odd Parents
The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
The Wiggles
Thomas the Tank Engine
Twilight Series
Wild Kratts
Wild Thornberrys
Wizards of Waverly Place
Word World
Yo Gabba Gabba
Zoey 101

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.


Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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Who Is Generation Z: Homelanders
Article Name
Who Is Generation Z: Homelanders
A definition of Who Is Generation Z (Homelanders) including characteristics, size, years, names (Homeland Generation, iGen, Zees) plus events that shaped them including 9/11, economic collapse, mobile tech, war and more.


  1. Christopher Brown

    Read “Generations” or “The Fourth Turning” by Strauss and Howe, the folks who have gleaned human history for pattern generational behavior. Centuries have been chronicled, per Saeculum (cycle), of the long-lived human life. Four archetype generations follow in sequence indefinitely like a sine wave. The last six:

    Hero Archetype: G.I. Generation 1901-1924 -ish
    Artist Archetype: Silent Generation 1925-1942 -ish
    Prophet Archetype: Baby Boomer Generation 1943-1960 -ish
    Nomad Archetype: Generation X 1961-1981 -ish
    Hero Archetype: Millenial Generation 1982-2002? – ish
    Artist Archetype: Homelander Generation 2003?- 2023? -ish…

    Best to visit the folks who have resoundingly put the most thought into it:

  2. Michael

    I was born in 1999 I feel more of a millennial because I have a lot common with people born in 1994 to 2001 that are around my age because we grew up on the same tv shows with my cousins that were born in 1994. I have nothing really in common with someone born in 2005 which that. 15 and I’m 22.

    • Jennifer

      My oldest was born in 1997 and she identifies more as a Millennial. Her younger siblings (by 8 and 10 years) are Gen-Z.

  3. Traci B

    Hi, Although I don’t agree with your exact dates for Gen-zs, I’m more in the camp of 1997-2012ish, I found what you had to say very interesting. I was a bit of a helicopter parent to my daughter, born in 2001, and something I have learned and I now see the fruits of in so many of these kids who were raised the same way, is that we are not meant to have everything taken care of for us all of the time. We are meant to fall down and fail and get dirty and, sometimes, deal with people who aren’t very nice to us. My daughter, now 19, has some sort of issues, but apparently can’t be classified. I think the real problems stem from never having to deal with anything really hard or painful as a child as I intervened in almost every instance with the mindset that I was protecting her in the ways that I, along with many gen-xers, were never protected as we had the generation of collapsing parents.
    I find it interesting how the Gen-zs are so obsessed with dystopian culture in films and TV. I sometimes think the best fix we could give them would be a mandatory 6 month “walk-about” (as in the Australian or indigenous term) in the wilderness. It is what they need. I think a lot of their emotional/mental problems would disappear if they just spent an extended time in nature learning how to rely on their instincts and each other in real, concrete connected ways that served an actual, physical purpose rather than virtual. Life is not virtual.

    • Jennifer

      Yes, yes and yes. Ugh. Your comment hit me right between the eyes. I am so weary of dystopian culture. My Gen-Zs are very into it and it does concern me.

      Regarding years, my oldest was born in 1997. She identifies as a Millennial but to me, she is all Generation Z. I think time will tell. I believe Strauss and Howe start Gen Z at 1996.

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I do think we created a whole new set of problems with our helicopter parenting. =/

      • Steve

        Strauss and Howe use 1982-2004 for millennials. I was born in 2002 and even I identify more with millennials – grew up with “be kind, please rewind” (VHS and DVD were both familiar to me as a kid), didn’t use a cellphone through high school, and find I have more in common with my older cousins born in the early-mid 90s than with other kids just a handful of years younger than me. I do see some of the so-called Gen Z tropes in myself and others my age, but I can’t relate to meme culture, TikTok, or whatever the current youth trends are. So I’d say as far as I’m concerned, millennials are those born from about 1983/84 at the earliest to about 2002/03 at the latest, and Gen Z would be 2003/04-present.

  4. Kirstyn Bruno

    Very interesting read! I have two children that are Millenials (1991 & 1994) and one son born in 2008 that is Gen-Z. He calls his generations Zoomers! Maybe it’s just his ADHD but it definitely fits him.

    • Jennifer

      I’ve heard Zoomers, too. And, now with the global pandemic and all this online schooling – they’re Generation Zoom!

  5. Alexandra

    I’m really confused… I was born in 1997 and I’ve always thought I was a Millennial… Whenever someone said something about them I felt like they were talking about me lol And at first I read about both generations to compare them and I felt much more comfortable and agreed more to the Millennial mindset and stuff, but after this post I’m confused once again, because I also seem to have a lot in common with Gen Z… I feel so lost xD Idk what to call myself, my heart says Millennial but my brain says Gen Z…

    • Jennifer

      Hello, Alexandra! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for your curiosity about Generation Z. You will forever be a cusper navigating between two generations until time and history further defines the years once and for all. In the meantime, learn all you can. You can also call yourself a late-wave Millennial or a first-wave Gen Z!

  6. Sarah

    My sister was born in 1996 and is a weird hybrid of Millennial and Zeer most likely due to some of my influence.Those at the end or beginning of a generation seem to have that issue. The oldest Millennials I know are more like Gen X than Millennials.I was born in 1989 and I can see what a difference five years makes.The internet seems to be a big point. I didn’t start using the internet until I was around 7 and didn’t have a cell phone until 2004.This astounds teens I know.As does dial up…

    • Jennifer

      Dial-up! The good old days. I miss them and my I heart AOL bumper sticker. I agree — five years can make a big difference in the time-frame you mention. Thanks for stopping by, Sarah. I hope you’ll return!

  7. Brett

    Couple questions:

    1) How did you (or whomever) come up with a beginning birth year of 1995 for GenZ? Strauss & Howe go all the way out to 2004 (IIRC). 2004 seems too long (23 years!), and my daughter (2001) seems more GenZ than Millennial. But 1995 seems too early; that means the Millennial generation is only 14 years long.

    If I had to guess, I would push the end of the Millennial generation out to at least 1998-2000, maybe settling on 1999. That would be on the short end of a generation’s length (18 years), but still in line with S&H’s other generations.

    I’m guessing the driver of this is the post-9/11 sociopolitical landscape, and all of the consequent lawnmower (closer to the ground than a helicopter) parenting and government.

    2) Would this mean that Canadian GenZers are properly called Zeds? 🙂

    • Jennifer

      My oldest was born in 1997. She is more Gen Z. She is so different than the Millennials I’ve known in the workplace. I think it’s all very subjective and the more time that passes, the more we see a line of demarcation form between these two generations. They are very different from one another.

      • Denise

        My oldest was born in 1996, and I think she is also a lot more Gen Z.

        • Jennifer

          I think we have to see how things evolve before we firmly set the dates. My oldest was born in 1997. I think she is a hybrid Mizennial. LOL.


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