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Move Aside Millennials, Make Way for Gen Z

Generation Z bug

First the boomers were nudged from the media spotlight by millennials, the largest and most diverse generation. And who can argue that our adult children have made an indelible imprint on how we live, work and play.

But now millennials are about to get some competition. Here comes Gen Z. Although the starting date can vary, Gen Z encompasses newborns to teens, beginning with those born in 2001.

Demographers and marketers alike slice and dice the U.S. population in generational pieces from Silents (1925-1945), to Boomers (1946-1964), to Gen X (1965-1979), to Gen Y or millennials (1980-2000) — and now Gen Z.

Just who exactly are these Gen Z whippersnappers infiltrating our lives? To take a look, we turn to the New York ad agency Sparks & Honey, which issued a 56-page report called “Meet Gen Z.” The generation shares some characteristics with their millennial siblings and parents, yet, in many ways, they are very different.

While the agency’s findings need to be taken with a grain of salt, (they’re a marketing firm after all), they do provide a fascinating look at the impact of technology on this generation born wired:

  • Gen Z spends 41 percent of their time multitasking across five screens: cell phone, tablet or gaming device, laptop, desktop and TV. Compare that to 22 percent by millennials 10 years ago.
  • While their young brains can process more information faster, keeping their attention can be a problem. They have an eight-second attention span, down from 12 seconds in 2000.
  • Speaking of fast, they prefer to communicate in icons and symbols such as emoji rather than words.
  • Follow them on Instagram and Twitter rather than Facebook, as they prefer instantaneous connection because of FOMO: Fear of Missing Out.
  • They also prefer “incognito” apps such as Snapchat, which delete messages after 10 seconds.
  • They are much less active, playing indoors with their tech toys rather than outside, with 66 percent of 6- to 11-year-olds listing gaming as their main source of entertainment.


One of the new tech toys shows the impact of technology on even longtime favorite: Barbie. Just in time for the holidays next year Mattel will stock the shelves with Hello Barbie, an Wi-Fi version of the beauty queen that will converse with the little darlings. Sort of like Siri for dolls.

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Another survey found that Gen Z are budding foodies who like fresh ingredients, not microwaved, especially for breakfast. If we can get them to stop swiping screens and pressing buttons, maybe they’ll cook up a stack of pancakes.

Mary W. Quigley’s blog, Mothering21, tackles parenting of emerging adults and beyond.

Photo:  cthoman/iStock

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