Patrick Eng
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Week 12 - Everything I Needed to Know About Gen Z and Technology Usage

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As someone who was born in 1996, I find myself in this awkward position of being on the edge of both the Millennial and Generation Z cohorts, depending on who you ask. Growing up, I never used the internet even though it was publicly available and have always been comfortable using technology.

Either way, many Generation Z members are considered to have been born in the mid 90's and early 2000's and grew up with the internet. This generation is very comfortable with technology, specifically social media, to the point of being called digital natives.

In this week's post, we'll take a look at Generation Z and their interactions with technology, and how they are disrupting the norms set by earlier generations.

While this article has no data to back up its claims, it's not too hard to conclude how they came up with them. While that's a pretty big factor in this post's authority, at least the claims are believable. Knowing this, take it as you will.

Gen Z is less focused

With the power of the internet at their fingertips, Gen Z's are used to having up-to-date and useful information at all times. This constant news feed into their brains allows them to have short attention spans since this data is constantly passing through them and doesn't require in-depth reading or review.

Gen Z breathes multitasking

When you grow up with the internet and technology that your grandparents only saw in science fiction movies, you get used to working with multiple devices. Most Gen Z's I know all have their own iPad, plus a smart TV, laptop, and smartphone. The daily usage of all these devices, usually at the same time, allows Gen Z's to thrive in a multitasking environment.

Geb Z care less about prices

Gen Z's care less about finding a deal than Millennials do. According to this article, 76% of Millennials will look for a coupon before buying something, versus 46% of Gen Z's. This also translates into digital ads, where 71% of Millennials purchase a product through an ad, versus 59% of Gen Z's.

Gen Z cares less about  traditional higher education

With new online learning platforms coming out every day, the cost of a traditional higher education degree looks less and less worthwhile. Many of these online platforms provide quality courses that could match (or surpass) many traditional university class and save them a lot more money. I can definitely think of multiple classes I took at George Mason where I was astounded that I was paying thousands of dollars to take, and could have gotten a better course through Lynda or Codecademy.

Gen Z thrives on the Entrepreneurial spirit

Due to the usage of advanced technology and ability to network across the world, Gen Z's have developed a strong entrepreneurial spirit, with 72% of teenagers wanting to start a business one day.

Gen Z has high expectations

Gen Z expects businesses and brands to be loyal to them, the customer. If that business is not customer-centric, Gen Z's have no issue going somewhere else to get what they need.

Gen Z's crave individuality

They want to make their style their own, their diet their own, and their path of the life their own.

Gen Z goes global

Because of the internet, Gen Z's are able to share ideas, passions, and resources across the globe in an almost natural way. Many Gen Z's find unity with people across the world, sometimes more so than their own country.

Gen Z's also pose an interesting challenge to traditional marketing tactics that relied on in-person selling, direct mail, and email. Gen Z disrupts those channels drastically, and marketing tactics need to change with them.

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According to the Center of Generational Kinetics, a research firm based in Austin Texas, Generation Z is a native to social media, though a more personal form of it. Gen Z tends to steer clear of platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and instead narrows in on more direct social media, like SnapChat.

As each generation tends to adopt some form of communication as their preferred, like Baby Boomers speaking face-to-face, Gen X on the phone/email, and Millennials on social media, Gen Z favors modes of communication where the actual messages disappear into the ether. These forms of communication lie mainly in Snapchat and Instagram, where everything you send has a lifespan of 24 hours or less.

According to the Center of Generation Kinetics:

These characteristics are important to understand because when you have a Gen Z and a baby boomer working together at a company, modes of communication are going to drastically differ, and compromises must be made in order to make communication efficient and effective.

42% of Gen Z says that "social media has a direct impact on how they feel about themselves."

You could take that statistic multiple ways. Either, you could see it as a sign that social media has too much control over Gen Z's lives, or you could see it as just another way humans navigate social comparisons and is a very natural component of our lives.

As many of us know, however, social media and other forums give cyber-bullies an absolute playground to work in. While this hasn't stopped people from using social media or online forums, it definitely goes to show that there is a dark side to all this and that there are many toxic communities out there looking for opportunities.

Millennials are so last week. Let's look at Generation Z instead. One way to describe Generation Z is that they are like Millennials, but on steroids. Gen Z tends to share many of the same characteristics as Millennials, but just more ardently.

According to a study called Generation Nation, there is a lack of patriotism in Gen Z. This speaks volumes to how supportive Gen Z will be towards the government, and craves a system that supports inclusivity. Or take the military for example. Traditional recruiting tactics just won't work due to the change in pro-American mindsets.

Technology

Growing up with the internet really left its mark on this generation. Gen Z doesn't watch live tv or broadcast news, and natively browses online streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube. This shift in content consumption could make Gen Z more susceptible to fake news, as there is very little quality assurance applied to these pieces of content.

Social Media

While Millennials popularized social media, Gen Z is being more careful about it. They know that social media is a powerful tool, and can come back to haunt them later. We see this in the news all the time with politicians that tweeted something at one point or another. Hence, Gen Z favors a more ghost-like platform that deletes what they say after a short grace period.

Diversity

Generation Z is the most diverse generation. Just to show some quick stats:

  • 81% of Gen Z's say they have one or more friends of a different race

  • 48% of Gen Z is non-Caucasian

  • 59% have friends of different sexual orientations

Equality

Gen Z stands out in two areas when it comes to equality: race and marriage. While this generation is still quite young and probably doesn't think about marriage that often, they at least know that they are in favor of marrying someone of a different race (77% in favor). On other issues like health care, social security, and the environment, Gen Z floated around similar numbers to the other generations.

The youngest sibling

For all those older siblings out there who look back and realize that they were punished all the time, but by the 3rd sibling, the parents let them get away with anything, Gen Z is that 3rd sibling. 48% of Gen Z's would agree that their parents would actually follow through with a punishment, as compared to 59% of Millennials and 67% of Gen X.

Pessimistic/Realistic

Gen Z's resemble Millennials in many ways, just not when it comes to the bright future of America.

  • 68% think the US is taking a bad turn

  • 44% were worried about how things were going in America

    • And 21% said they were scared

  • 71% say that they believe their lives will get harder in the future

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Patrick Eng