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Generation Z – The Youth of the Future

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teenagers are staring at their phones
Smart phones are a staple in Generation Z's culture, as this Generation has never experienced a time without smart devices.

As technology emerges and develops as a staple in modern society, Generation Z grows with it. Gen Z is the youngest generation of people between the ages of 5-23 years old as of 2020, born after 1996. This demographic comes right after the millennial era, in line to inherit a strong global economy and the lowest employment rates seen in years. However, a lot of predictions have changed recently, as COVID-19 has reshaped the country’s social, political and economic landscape. Instead of looking ahead to a world of opportunities, Gen Z now peers into an uncertain future. 

Pandemic Setbacks

Early signs have already shown that the older Gen Z-ers have experienced a hard hit due to the pandemic. According to the Pew Research Center, “half of the oldest Gen Z-ers (ages 18 to 23) reported that they or someone in their household had lost a job or taken a cut in pay because of the outbreak. This was

Students of the 2020 fall semester’s News class wear masks amid COVID restrictions.

significantly higher than the shares of Millennials (40%), Gen X-ers (36%) and Baby Boomers (25%) who said the same.” This brings into question what the future may hold for this era, as a once undoubtedly success-ridden demographic is now seeming to lose its grip on its inevitably declining economic future.

The Generation of Knowledge

Gen Z is on track to be the best-educated generation yet, with 57% of 18- to 21-year-olds enrolled in a

GA students work with computers during class in the D-Media lab.
GA students work with computers during class in the D-Media lab.

two-year or four-year college after high school. This compares with 52% among Millennials in 2003 and 43% among members of 

Gen X in 1987. It can be predicted that with these numbers, the pandemic’s employment decline may not affect these people as much as expected. With degrees on their backs, they may find themselves with a larger window of job opportunities come adulthood.

A Look Into Gen Z-ers’ Minds

Three students, all aged 16, weighed in on their concerns and hopes for their future, along with their experiences in this reformative generation. When discussing the possible direct impact on job opportunities due to COVID-19, Dominic Schiciano (‘22) said, he did not feel worried, as “money [is] given to businesses during the pandemic with stimulus checks. Also, my career seems too far in the future to say.” Aggie Breen (‘22) agreed with Schiciano, as she feels “our economy is too strong to see any long term impact.” Continually, these students reflected on the technological influence of their education. Schiciano (‘22) feels that  “tech is more of an asset than a problem, it allows us to educate ourselves beyond the classroom.” For instance, many

Social media is just one of the ways teenagers use their internet access to educate themselves.

students turn to the internet when they do not understand certain concepts in class. They may look it up or contact their teachers via email or zoom.

Faith Smolik (‘22) said, “The world of technology seems quite normal to me, but I know the advantages it has given me in my life. I don’t think I’d have half my curiosity if I didn’t have an outlet to solve my own problems easily.”  

The Road Ahead

The modernity of Generation Z’s environment has allowed for the student population to explore beyond the classroom. While many older generations may deem it a problem or an obstacle to learning,  the kids of Generation Z see it as a way to explore as much as they please. With the combination of more education amongst the vast population and access to high-end technology, the future of Gen Z lies in the hands of those who choose to use these resources to shape civilization. Whether it’s job employment or attending school, Gen Z-ers seem to have the utmost confidence in their future. This is what creates the narrative of a reformative, hardworking, and developing group that will eventually run the world.