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Who Are Gen Z? Characteristics and Overview

Katie Mantooth, Sharon Linde
  • Author
    Katie Mantooth

    Katie Mantooth is a writer who lives in Indianapolis, IN. She graduated from Marian University with a Bachelors in English. During her time at Marian, she worked at the Writing Center on campus where she helped run the social media and tutor at the collegiate level.

  • Instructor
    Sharon Linde

    Sharon has an Masters of Science in Mathematics and a Masters in Education

Discover Generation Z. Learn the Gen Z meaning and definition, identify its characteristics, and read about this latest generation and what makes it unique. Updated: 12/05/2021

Gen Z Meaning

Over the last few years, terms such as "millennial" or "boomer" have become commonplace. These terms are widely accepted to be in reference to certain generations of people. Millennials, or Generation Y, refers to people born between 1981 and 1994. Boomer refers to people born between 1946-1964. After boomer comes Generation X, which was 1965 to 1980. Then came Millennial, and after that was Generation Z, or Gen Z. Gen Z refers to people born between 1995 and 2010. The 'Z' in the name means "zoomer", as this is the first generation known to 'zoom' the internet. Most of those who are a part of Gen Z are the children of Generation X. Some other names for this generation would be the iGeneration, the Digital Natives, internet generation, and centennials. While it is hard to generalize an entire generation, Gen Z tends to live slower than previous generations, and be more risk-averse. They tend to be more concerned with the future, and better at delaying gratification than previous generations. However, this generation is also associated with having the highest rates of mental illness and intellectual disabilities when compared to previous generations. Despite misconceptions that this generation was tech obsessed, the rate of popularity of reading was higher among this generation than the last three generations.

Birthdates of Gen Z

There are actually more debates about where millennial stops and Gen Z starts than one might expect. The generally agreed on years are 1995-2010, but especially among people born between 1995-1999 who can remember a time before our world was ruled by internet, there is a disagreement as they tend to relate to millennial themed characteristics rather than Generation Z. Millennials are known as the first video-game generation, and so are known for their love for Mario and Pokemon. They are more educated than any generation before them, they have the lowest unemployment rates, and they are the least religious. They also tend to value happiness and peace over productivity, so they don't generally settle into jobs like their predecessors. They also tend to be more civically and politically minded. Most people born before 2000 also share these characteristics, causing a discrepancy about where the age line actually lies.

Pokemon Logo

Millennials are known for:

  • Civil and Political Engagement
  • Love of Nostalgic Video Games
  • Being the "me" generation
  • Open-minded
  • Self-Expressive
  • Occasionally called narcissistic or coddled

The generation who parented millennials was the Greatest Generation, or the generation known for having lived during WWII, which contributes to what seems to be an overwhelmingly negative view of Millennials, since there is a massive generational divide both economically and politically. Either way, no matter if you count the start of Gen Z as 1995 or 2000, Gen Z and Gen Y share a lot of characteristics and experiences.

What's in a Name?

Have you ever heard of Generation Z? You may be a member of it! If not, you certainly know someone who falls into the group of people born after 1995-2005, depending on which sources you refer to. While the name is probably a placeholder for the eventual title this group will hold, it's time we got on board with it, at least temporarily. The naming of a generation is a slow process with ambiguous names for generations until well after the fact. For example, Generation X was originally termed 'Baby Busters' because of the sharp drop off in birth rates between that generation and the previous one, the 'Baby Boomers.'

There are several potential names floating around for Generation Z right now, such as the Plurals, iGen, Generation Wii, and Homeland Generation. Only in time will we know what the label for this generation will end up being, and there is a great chance that it will contain a defining feature we have not yet considered or observed.

Characteristics of Gen Z

Gen Z is the first generation to be majorly associated with technology, being coined the digital natives. They are smart, tech-savvy, and connected deeply with their mental health. Refer to the list below for more Gen Z characteristics:

  • Diverse/Diversity-minded
  • Pragmatic
  • Shrewd
  • Progressive
  • Best-Educated Gen yet
  • Globally-Connected
  • Mobilized
  • Ethical
  • Individualistic
  • Spiritual
  • 'Communaholics', meaning addicted to communication
  • Radically inclusive

Diversity in Gen Z

Gen Z is quickly being recognized as the most diverse generation that America has ever seen. While the majority (52 percent) of Gen Z is still non-hispanic white, that's almost a 10 percent drop from the generations before them. Twenty-five percent of Gen Z-ers identify as hispanic, with 14 percent identifying as black. Six percent identify as asian, and the rest are a different or mixture of races. While the black population saw a one percent drop, the other races saw a significant rise. Gen Z also has more people born inside of the homeland than previous generations as well. With the rise in diversity also came strides in inclusivity as well. Minorities from Gen Z are less likely to drop out in Gen Z than any other generation. Gen Z also tends to be radically inclusive in the workplace, setting more policies against discrimination than any time before them. Gen Z tends to be more politically mobilized when it comes to issues of diversity as well.

Birthdates of Generation Z

There is not yet consensus from social scientists about the exact birthdates that would place people as members of Generation Z. Some sources have it starting as early as 1995, while others start it as late as 2005. Social scientists tend to come to a slow consensus regarding what does or does not define a generation, especially since no one knows beforehand what or when the defining experiences for a generation will be. The children born in 1920 didn't know they were going to fight and succeed in World War II, nor did they know the feats that would be carried out in their lifetimes. They are known as the Greatest Generation only due to this hindsight knowledge.

The generation before Generation Z, most commonly known as the Millennials, is commonly accepted to start somewhere in the early 80s. Since most cohorts have typically been defined in 18- to 24-year groups, this means the start of Generation Z is somewhere around the year 2000, give or take a few years.

Characteristics of Generation Z

Taking away all the ambiguity we can, what do we know about this generation specifically?

Diversity

Ethnically and racially, Generation Z will be the most diverse in the history of the United States. This is largely because their Generation X parents were part the largest immigrant influx in more than a century.

Parenting

The parents of Generation Z are older on average than any previous generation and are known to be very protective helicopter parents. An article from Cornerstone Blog reports that 1 in 7 stay at home parents is a father for a Generation Z child. There are also more homosexual and lesbian parents and more single parents than ere before. As a group, these parents are more focused on helping their children form social and familial bonds than any previous generation. These parents have insisted on social and emotional learning in schools.

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Additional Info

What's in a Name?

Have you ever heard of Generation Z? You may be a member of it! If not, you certainly know someone who falls into the group of people born after 1995-2005, depending on which sources you refer to. While the name is probably a placeholder for the eventual title this group will hold, it's time we got on board with it, at least temporarily. The naming of a generation is a slow process with ambiguous names for generations until well after the fact. For example, Generation X was originally termed 'Baby Busters' because of the sharp drop off in birth rates between that generation and the previous one, the 'Baby Boomers.'

There are several potential names floating around for Generation Z right now, such as the Plurals, iGen, Generation Wii, and Homeland Generation. Only in time will we know what the label for this generation will end up being, and there is a great chance that it will contain a defining feature we have not yet considered or observed.

Birthdates of Generation Z

There is not yet consensus from social scientists about the exact birthdates that would place people as members of Generation Z. Some sources have it starting as early as 1995, while others start it as late as 2005. Social scientists tend to come to a slow consensus regarding what does or does not define a generation, especially since no one knows beforehand what or when the defining experiences for a generation will be. The children born in 1920 didn't know they were going to fight and succeed in World War II, nor did they know the feats that would be carried out in their lifetimes. They are known as the Greatest Generation only due to this hindsight knowledge.

The generation before Generation Z, most commonly known as the Millennials, is commonly accepted to start somewhere in the early 80s. Since most cohorts have typically been defined in 18- to 24-year groups, this means the start of Generation Z is somewhere around the year 2000, give or take a few years.

Characteristics of Generation Z

Taking away all the ambiguity we can, what do we know about this generation specifically?

Diversity

Ethnically and racially, Generation Z will be the most diverse in the history of the United States. This is largely because their Generation X parents were part the largest immigrant influx in more than a century.

Parenting

The parents of Generation Z are older on average than any previous generation and are known to be very protective helicopter parents. An article from Cornerstone Blog reports that 1 in 7 stay at home parents is a father for a Generation Z child. There are also more homosexual and lesbian parents and more single parents than ere before. As a group, these parents are more focused on helping their children form social and familial bonds than any previous generation. These parents have insisted on social and emotional learning in schools.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What does Gen Z stand for?

Gen Z stands for Generation Z or Zoomer. It refers to the generation after millennial, and encompasses anyone born between 1995-2010.

What is Gen Z going to be called?

Gen Z has been called a lot of things since its conception. They have been referred to as zoomers, iGeneration, Digital Natives, and the true generation.

What age is Gen Z?

It depends on when you count the start year of Gen Z (some say 2000, while others say 1995). Most of Gen Z is between the ages 26 and 11.

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