• Sabrina Espinoza

Who is Gen Z Exactly? What Could This Mean For Our Future?

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina via Unsplash

Did you know that 67 million citizens in the United States are part of Generation Z? My generation, which is usually defined as including people born from 1997 to 2012, is often characterized as phone and social media addicts. Despite this, some people also associate us with activism and using social media as a tool to spread awareness. These phrases can be a bit vague, though: what are the specific statistics about Gen Z?

Gen Z is one of the most racially and ethnically diverse generations: according to the Pew Research Center, 52% of Gen-Zers were white in 2019. This percentage is less than millennials in 2003, where 61% were white, and Gen Xers in 1987, where 70% were white, showing a decreasing trend. Additionally, 25% of Gen Zers were Hispanic, 14% Black, 6% Asian, and 5% multiracial in 2019, most of the percentages being slightly more than previous generations. Besides being diverse, Gen Zers are also more likely than previous generations to attend college and have a college-educated parent, at 57% and 44% in 2018, respectively.

Despite these differences, Gen Zers and Millennials, the younger generations, have very similar views on issues like climate change, racial inequality, same-sex marriage, and gender-neutral pronouns. A Business Insider survey, however, showed that Gen Zers feel negative about the state of the US more so than Millenials (and previous generations), with only 12% of Gen Z participants feeling positive. This data, so far, characterizes Gen Z as a more inclusive, tolerant, and diverse generation. College seems to be viewed as important; more Gen Zers have a parent who went to college, possibly encouraging them to pursue higher education.

Of course, there’s also the presence of technology and social media that has been around for a majority of Gen Z’s lifetime. In a Business Insider survey of 4,000 Americans who were in their late teens to early 70s, about half of the Gen Z participants saw social media as an important part of their life.

Data from 99 Firms further displays Gen Z’s close relationship with technology: 95% of teens in Gen Z have access to a smartphone, and almost half are using the internet for 10 or more hours a day. Although surveys like these can’t take answers from every single person who is part of Gen Z in the US, they display how computers, the internet, and phones have greatly become a part of Gen Z’s lives, both surveys having high percentages of Gen Zers who use technology.

So what do these statistics hint about the future of Gen Z? Well, to any Gen Zers reading this, here’s what I think: these various statistics show that we have grown up in a period where there is more diversity, technology, learning, and tolerance. We’re exposed to so many different kinds of people with social media and the internet, broadening our worldviews and allowing us to see multiple perspectives. More of us going to college also lets us meet a variety of people, educate ourselves on the topics we want to learn about, and make friendships with people we might never have expected.

Social media doesn’t need to be a bad thing for us: we can spread awareness about issues, create supportive online communities, and advocate for our beliefs to people everywhere. We have the potential to make our communities, our schools, our country more accepting, understanding, and open-minded places for all.

The general characteristics of your generation don’t determine your entire personality: 67 million of us can’t have exactly the same views, and that’s not even counting the Gen Zers in other countries. Not all millennials are entitled, not all boomers are close-minded, and not all Gen Zers are addicted to phones. Still, the environment we grow up in influences us to some degree. For example, COVID-19 and the prominence of social issues like Black Lives Matter (BLM) are already causing Gen Zers to question how ‘great’ the US really is and to recognize the dangers of racism/sexism at young ages (the oldest members of Gen Z are only 23).

We’re still young and admittedly clueless about certain things, but we’ll be influencing the future generation (Gen Alpha) with our views, actions, and words. We’re being raised in a period where people are slowly becoming more diverse, curious, and accepting. Rather than resist these changes, we should embrace them and encourage the future generation to do the same.

It might take years, decades, centuries even, but with each generation, there is a chance for the world to become a little bit better.