While you are sitting down to your Thanksgiving meal this month, glance over at the “kids table” and say a word of thanks. We don’t mean for just those specific family members who happened to be sitting there, but for the entire generation of passionate, creative youth who, in a few years, will be promoted to a higher-ranking holiday table. The fact that most of this generation is still being actively parented, doesn’t change how much they have to teach us. This unique and powerfully large cohort of young people has qualities for which we should all be grateful, and which are sure to benefit us all now and in the future. In no particular order:
They are passionate about making a difference in the world; a study by firm, Sparks and Honey found that 26% of 16-19-year-olds already volunteer regularly. They are large, 60 million strong with 24 million of them poised to be of age to vote in the 2020 presidential election. And while this generation is diverse, a large focus of their activism is on climate change and sustainability thanks in part to outspoken Gen Z member, Greta Thunberg. When your great grandchildren are sitting down to their Thanksgiving dinner on a healthy planet thanks to a reduction in fossil fuel emissions and single-use plastic bans, it’ll be Gen Z you can thank.
Speaking of diversity, Gen Z is as diverse as they come. One in four are Hispanic, much greater than the number of Millennials at this point in their generational growth. Their diversity combined with their innate understanding of technology makes them globally conscious and ardent defenders of human rights and inclusion. This diversity has the power to change how we experience inclusion in our lives, from our workplace to our entertainment. In fact, according to an EY survey, sixty-three percent of Generation Z feel it is most important to work with people with diverse education and skill levels and an additional 20 percent think that having people of different cultures (ethnicity/origins) is the most important element to a team. Thank a Gen Zer for changing perspectives, more inclusion and a global world view that adds to richer life experiences.
They are digital technology natives which is a fancy way of saying, they have never known a world without smart phones, internet or social media. They may have been watching PBS like older generations, but they were doing it on portable devices. What does this mean (other than the “kids table” can double as your tech support this Thanksgiving)? It means they are comfortable with the technology, and potentially less likely to let it interfere in their lives in a negative way than their Millennial older siblings. One study even says they are less likely to always want to be reachable than Millennials due in part to the fact that the novelty isn’t there for technology that always has been.
They are independent and entrepreneurial. According to one Gallup study, nearly eight in 10 students in middle through high school say they want to be their own boss. They are independent learners and don’t subscribe to the linear career trajectory of their predecessors. You might even be working for them one day.
They are young. This goes without saying in a post about the current youngest generation. But with youth comes energy, passion, creativity and spirit; qualities that are good for us all to be around if only to be reminded of when they were so easily had. It’s up to all of us to foster these qualities and to not forget why they are so important to begin with.