They’ve always been wired. They’ve never known a world without the internet or cell phones; younger Z’s have never known a world without smartphones. They expect information and entertainment on-demand, instantly, and in phone-sized bites. They prefer their information and entertainment short and more visual than text.
Sexuality. About 54% of high-school students in 1991 reported having had sex, while only 41% did in the early 2010s. Dating sites are the number one place to meet and hang out. Biggest fear cited in USA studies is accusation of sexual assault , sexual misconduct or rape.
A smaller study of college students by professors at Drexel University found more than half (54 percent) reported sending a sext before they turned 18, often as a form of flirting.
They’re more accepting of sexual fluidity. Gen Z supports gay marriage and transgender rights. For them, such things are part of everyday life. It would be rare for a Z to not have a friend from the LGBT community.
Additionally, a 2016 survey of gender and sexuality by J. Walter Thompson Company, a New York-based marketing firm, found only 48 percent of those 13 to 20 years old described themselves as “completely heterosexual,” compared to 65 percent of those 21 to 34.
Fifty-six percent of respondents between the ages of 13 and 20 said they knew someone who went be gender-neutral pronouns, such as “they” and “them.”
They’re racially diverse . . . and multiracial
When Z’s get married, they’re more likely than their forebears to wed someone of another ethnic group. In the USA about 1 in 6 marriages today are of an interracial couple.
They’re pretty independent. Gen Xers, repeatedly warned about “helicopter parenting,” have reacted by giving their kids—Z’s—plenty of space. This hands-off parenting has yielded both pros and cons.
On the pro side, Z’s are pretty self-directed and confident. On the con side, they’re not necessarily equipped with much real-life wisdom or many boundaries. In an age of cyber-bullying, sexting, internet porn, and hooking up—not to mention hacking, scams, and identity theft—the consequences can be dangerous.
They’re aware of a troubled planet. Most Z’s have grown up since 9/11 and have only known a world where terrorist attacks are the norm. Additionally, they’ve lived through the Great Recession, and they’ve seen their parents, or many of their friends’ parents, struggle through job losses, foreclosures, and more. This leaves them stressed out by a bleak future. Know its tough to afford college, a house, and get a job.
They’re justice-minded. Z’s want to make a difference in the world. Like millennials before them, they’re keenly aware of justice issues concerning poverty, human trafficking, refugees, racism, and more.They want a job that impacts the world.
They’re post-Christian. Almost a quarter (23 percent) of America’s adults—and a third of millennials—are “nones,” claiming no religious identity at all, according to Pew Research. Many Z’s are growing up in homes where there’s no religion whatsoever, and they may have no experience of religion.
This study, published in the journal Child Development, analyzed survey responses from 8.3 million teenagers between 1976 and 2016. Overwhelmingly, today’s teens were found to be less likely to drive, work for pay, go on dates, have sex, or go out with their parents and they try alcohol later. They take longer to settle into careers, marry and have kids.
However, one of the most disturbing characteristics of Generation Z, is a suicide rate that has surpassed the homicide rate in that age group. Twenge thinks smartphone use may play a crucial role in contributing to that. Instead of working or playing outside, teens are more likely to feel isolated and tethered to their devices. This increases the risk of suicide.