Recently I attended a session lead by Kyle R. Hawkey, firstname.lastname@example.org, from the University of Minnesota at the National After School Association Annual Convention on Generation Z. He stated that today’s young people, Generation Z, are different than any other generation. These 9-21 year-olds are just starting to define themselves. It’s the most diverse generation the world has ever seen; comfortable within the global context and the challenges of working across boundaries. They are “digital natives” who have grown up deeply immersed in the web of technology and inter-connectivity (i.e. they have never been without Google). Research has shown that not only do their brains look different than ours, but they function differently too. Some of the characteristics of Generation Z are: since 2000, there has been a 50% increase in identifying themselves as multiracial, born between 1995-2015, “do gooders” these youth want to make a difference in the world; have 5 screens, communicate with images, create things, future-focused, realists, and want to work for success. More than a quarter of the US population belongs to Generation Z. Of these youth: 30% watch lessons online; 20% read textbooks on tablets; 30% work with classmates online; and 50% use YouTube/Social Media for research assignments.
So how do we as professionals work with Generation Z? When we communicate with Generation Z it should be visual and aimed towards diverse audiences. Communication should be kept short (i.e. think stackable content). We should feed their curiosity and provide them control over choices of preference and settings. Generation Z needs to be inspired; reacting best when given social causes to rally behind. Generation Z wants to build their expertise. And finally, connect Generation Z to technology of various types.