It is not a secret that every generation of people has its own values, behavioral patterns, and way of thinking. Problems related to this fact – such as misunderstandings between people of different ages, “father-son” problems, and so on – have existed, perhaps, since the times of primeval people. These problems tend to go beyond family relationships, also spreading to such spheres as social hierarchy and work. Nowadays, American society mostly consists of the representatives of Generation X (people born in 1960’s) and Y (born in 1980’s – early 1990’s); their behaviors and traits are already well-studied. However, recently yet another generation has climbed up on the stage – the so called Generation Z, people born in late 1990’s – early 2000’s, and although sociologists and psychologists have not studied them completely yet, it is already known that Generation Z is completely different from their predecessors.
But what are these differences? This is the first generation that cannot imagine a life without having a mobile gadget with an access to the Internet. Z people never lived in times without Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social media services. Whatever they need, they can easily find on the Internet, right at their fingertips (thanks to smartphones), and mostly for free.
This has its good and bad sides. From one point of view, Generation Z is native to the Internet: they are more savvy with it, and they navigate it with an ease that their Y predecessors, the millennials, could only dream of; in the age of digital technologies, it is a valuable trait. On the other hand, Generation Z no more have a need to use their long term memory and to be perceptive: all knowledge they need is saved on the cloud or on distant servers. This has lead to a drastic result: the average attention span of a Generation Z teen is only 8.25 seconds! This means that they are simply unable to focus on something for more than eight seconds. Even a goldfish has a larger attention span of nine seconds (The Telegraph).
Considering the enormous daily flow of information, Generation Z cannot afford paying attention to everything around them; they have to be picky, to fish out valuable information from the flow. Their attention span is shorter, but they can sort the information out easier and faster, so one cannot say Generation Z is less effective when working, or less capable than the millennials. Besides, when they find something truly worth their attention, they demonstrate commitment and the ability to instantly focus on what they find interesting (Co.Exist).
The ability to quickly navigate through the large amounts of information allows the representatives of generation z to develop more diverse personalities. Generation z representatives often have unusual hobbies and interests (sometimes not typical for teenagers and young people – astrophysics, for example), and obtain knowledge from a wider range of disciplines compared to their predecessors, although this knowledge may be superficial (IFR).
At the same time, there is a number of difficulties and drawbacks typical for this generation. One of them is having unrealistic for themselves and for other people. This is often fueled by a rampant celebrity culture. Chloe Combi, a consultant on youth issues for the Mayor of London, and the author of research dedicated to generation z, explains it by the fact that, “Gen Z has grown up with reality TV stars, social media celebrities and world-famous twenty-something billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg.” What is more important and dangerous is that the accessibility of any Internet content – including porn – has negatively affected the way generation z representatives treat personal and sexual relationships. Gen z is obsessed with sex, sexual insults, and harrassment are becoming more common among its representatives (The Telegraph). Women are more objectified within this generation, and abnormal sexual behavior – like in porn movies – is often imitated and considered normal.
Generation z is a totally new generation that sociologists are actively studying at the moment. Consisting of digital natives, generation z heavily relies on the Internet and other technologies in their daily lives. This makes its representatives more diverse personalities with knowledge in a wide range of disciplines, with unusual hobbies and interests, and with a superior ability to instantly sort out information and find something worth attention. At the same time, generation z representatives have alarmingly short attention spans (less than a goldfish), and demonstrate unrealistic expectations towards themselves and surrounding people. They are also more sexually active, but because of an easy accessibility of pornography they tend to misinterpret sexual relationships, and imitate abusing sexual behavior demonstrated in porn movies. Therefore, American society needs to find ways to make use of generation z’s positive traits, and at the same time somehow neutralize the negative ones.
“What Is Generation Z, And What Does It Want?” Co.Exist. N.p., 04 May 2015. Web. 25 Sept. 2015.
“Look Out, Generation Z Is about to Enter Your Workplace.” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2015.
Doe, John. “Something You Didn’t Know about Gen Z.” IFR. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2015.
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