Gen Zs vs Millennials

John Krautzel
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Millennials have long been the subject of conversation — and controversy — for their detachment from norms created by previous generations, but the newest generation is shaking things up even further. Generation Z includes anyone born since 1997, and despite their age proximity to millennials, these individuals are creating a culture all their own. Here are the major things that set the two younger generations apart.

Financial Problems and Student Debt

Despite having grown up amid a strong economy, many millennials graduated around, or shortly after, the Great Recession. Thus, many faced a tough job market and poor financial prospects against a backdrop of massive student debt. Generation Zs, on the other hand, encountered the recession in their childhood, instilling in them a more frugal mindset. This mindset shift has led many Generation Z members to question the value of student loans or forgo college entirely while most millennials have believed student debt to be worth the investment.

Technology in Childhood

While many millennials grew up with dial-up internet on a family computer and no cell phones, modern technology such as iPhones and mobile internet are the norm for Generation Z. This culture of connectivity is changing how youth communicate, and the rise of instant gratification may make Generation Zs less patient than millennials.

The Job Landscape for Teenagers

The idea of a traditional teen job is slowly fading, with Generation Z teens more likely to make money from a self-employment gig such as creating YouTube videos or teaching guitar lessons in 2018. While 53 percent of millennials had a summer job in high school, that number dips 10 percent for next-generation teens, according to Business Insider.

Emphasis on Social Justice

Millennials certainly crave social progress, having helped to advance same-sex marriage and elect the first African-American president. However, Generation Zs grew up with this type of progress, making social justice feel like the norm rather than an outlying accomplishment. This is leading the new generation to be more active in seeking out social justice.

Interest in Global Pop Culture

Growing up in the age of the internet has crafted a more international mindset in Generation Z. As countries' borders have become less important following the evolution of internet and overall web accessibility, Generation Z members are more likely to be interested in global phenomena, including Korean K-pop music, Norwegian dramas and Japanese anime.

Attachment to Brands

Having grown up during a time of economic prosperity, millennial teens were more likely to obsess over their favorite brands, proudly sporting apparel with prominent logos, such as jeans from Calvin Klein and shirts from Hollister. This trend isn't so common in the Generation Z teens of 2018, who are more concerned about showcasing their individuality over social media than connecting to trendy brands.

Rise of the Gender Spectrum

The black-and-white gender norms that millennials came to understand are becoming obsolete with Generation Zs, who tend to view gender as a spectrum. According to Business Insider, a full 3 percent of teens in 2018 identify as genderqueer, meaning they don't identify as either male or female.

From these observations, it's clear that access to mobile tech is far from the only difference between the two newest generations. What are some other differences between millennials and Generation Z that you have noticed?


Photo courtesy of Eric Delcroix at Flickr.com

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