Generation Z, the tech-obsessed, self-absorbed and the easily offended. Born between 1997 and 2012 they have often been subject to numerous misconceptions and stereotypes; and I’m fortunate enough to qualify.
Because these generalisations overlook the complex reality of a very diverse, hardworking and ambitious generation.
Also read: Building a business at uni with just $20
Here are three reasons why Gen Z is misunderstood and shine a light on their unique characteristics and values.
1. Tech-Savvy or just obsessed?
One of the most common stereotypes surrounding Gen Z is their ‘troubling obsession’ with technology.
While it's true that they are digital natives who have grown up with the internet and smartphones, you could argue that this is a tech evolution rather than a generational obsession.
For example, I would’ve been five or six years old when I got my first computer. It had what I remember today as a ‘wacky box on the back’, a time before flat screens. I had a deal with my father at the time that every level I passed on my Lion King themed typing program I would get a dollar and by grade three I was helping my teacher type her daily notes because she was only able to type with two fingers.
According to a global online study in 2021, Gen Z actually only spent an average of three hours per day on social media versus Millennials who spent only slightly less at two hours and 15 minutes.
Even though Gen Z isn’t a much more technologically dependent generation than Millennials, their digital fluency from childhood has allowed them to become adept at multitasking, staying informed on the latest trends, and engaging with global issues.
2. Entrepreneurship? You just make silly internet videos
We’ve all heard the stereotype of Gen Z being labelled as entitled and lazy, but this narrative fails to recognise our entrepreneurial spirit and work/life balance culture.
The technological revolution has led us to the point today where it is possible to make a comfortable living doing something you’re passionate about.
According to a survey by Microsoft, 48 per cent of Gen Z’s surveyed have numerous side hustles. In a world where you can start a YouTube channel or a Shopify store, our options are far greater than being defined by a cubicle in an office.
3. The sensitive and the offended
Another common stereotype is that Gen Z can sometimes be overly sensitive and easily offended.
While I agree this can be true, given we are more vocal about social justice issues, this should be seen as a strength.
It’s true that in today’s environment, a loud voice on twitter is equal to, or sometimes even stronger, than a protester with a microphone. Gen Z members view their social channels as a way to enact positive change.
Every generation seems to complain about those who came after them. For my Millennial and Gen-X readers, it’s important to stay progressive and stay empathetic. And for my Gen Z readers, take note, it’ll be our turn to do the same soon.