Gen-Zers are a lot of things, but definitely not boring. Breaking stereotypes and stigmas, here are five cool facts you should know about Gen-Z.
You might know Gen-Z as the kids who say outlandish words like slay and rizz (if you don’t know what these words mean, our advice is to ask a Gen-Zer), and who generally make you feel old and outdated. They’re the kids who have their phones glued to their hands, who procrastinate, and who have no end of courage and honesty (even if it’s not what you want to hear).
In his book, What Would Gen-z Do?, John Schlimm, Harvard-trained educator, artist, advocate, and international award-winning author, sets about breaking these stereotypes. By sharing the wonderful world of Gen-Z, he invites us to join him on the journey of getting to know Gen-Z and offers practical tools for building cross-generational relationships. When we know our Gen-Zers better, we’ll be better able to communicate, teach, learn from, and love them.
Before we begin, John reminds us that “no one person is an expert on an entire generation, especially one that is not their own,” and no entire generation is exactly the same. He believes that “generations are comprised of millions of individuals, whose many different layers are each merely pieces of a more complex and infinitely fascinating puzzle.”
That being said, let’s dive into what we DO know about most Gen-Zers.
Who Are Gen-Z?
Born between 1997 and 2012 (generally), Gen-Z is a standout generation. They are courageous and honest trailblazers who speak out unapologetically on issues of mental health, race, diversity, LGBTQIA+, the environment, and more. Although they are considered to be the first true “digital natives” because they were born in the era of Wi-Fi, Google, and social media, more than ninety percent of Gen-Zers prefer face-to-face communication.
However, along with all of these fun traits come many misguided stereotypes and stigmas that give Gen-Z a bad name. So who are Gen-Z really?
These cool kids are well within the education system and have even begun to enter the workforce. You may have your own Gen-Zer, or you might teach or work with them. As you work alongside them, communicate with them, and love them for who they are, you’ve probably realized that there are a lot of neat traits uniquely Gen-Z.
1. They Like to Climb on Furniture and Rescue Trucks
Yes, you read that right. Gen-Zers like to climb on furniture and rescue trucks, especially for selfies. This is not a ploy to stick it to the man or disrespect authority. No, this is just innocent mischief and fun. They want to do fun, exciting things and get that perfect selfie that will look cool on social media. They’ll listen to authority figures who ask them not to, but if there’s nobody there to say no . . .
Next time, consider being the one to instigate a little harmless mischief.
2. They Stay Up All Night, Whether You Like It or Not
Whether it’s video games or school work or reading (you can hope), many Gen-Zers stay up late. Like, three-in-the-morning late. If you’re hearing phrases like “I’m tired” or “I’m so sorry I missed class—I overslept,” this might be your Gen-Zer too. Yes, they do it to themselves. Yes, they know they’ll be tired the next day. But keep in mind that your Gen-Zer might have a good reason. Talk to them about it.
If you find that their schedule isn’t going to change (and it’s probably not), John’s advice is to meet Gen-Zers where (and when) they are and help them to rise from there. So if it’s a 2:00 a.m. class or adjusting family together time, take that next step to get along with your Gen-Zer.
3. They’re Not Ignoring You—They’re Just Master Multitaskers
Have you ever seen your Gen-Zer sitting in front of a running TV, staring at their phone, and eating at the same time? This is what we call expert multitasking. When they’re writing, drawing, or reading at the same time you’re trying to talk to them, odds are that they aren’t ignoring you. They’re just keeping doing something to help them stay focused.
You could see that as rude and ask them not to (which you need to do sometimes), or you could find ways to use their crazy multitasking abilities to your and their benefit.
4. They Give Procrastinators a Good Name
Not all Gen-Zers procrastinate, but those that do aren’t lazy. Gen-Z procrastinators are often some of the most brilliant in the bunch, and they just work differently than non-procrastinators. It might be a motivation issue, where the pressure of sand running out of the hourglass is the only thing that can convince them to do something. Or it could be that they are just too preoccupied with other projects, so they’ll get to it when they get to it.
Keep this in mind the next time you have to remind your Gen-Zer every day until a deadline. Procrastination is guaranteed, but if they always get things done in time, it’s likely that they’re a professional procrastinator too. So don’t worry.
5. They Have Eight-Second Attention Spans? More Like Selective Attention.
Some studies are showing that Gen-Zers typically have eight-second attention spans, which is a few seconds shorter than millennials. It could be because digital natives process information faster and stay more actively engaged. But for the rest of us, if you were bored, you would have a short attention span too.
The lesson here isn’t that you need to talk faster but that you need to provide something interesting and relevant. Eight seconds or ninety-nine, Gen-Zers won’t give you a single second of it unless you’re telling them something worthwhile. Don’t waste Gen Z’s time, and they’ll give you far more than eight seconds.
Read more about these and other fun facts in John Schlimm’s book What Would Gen-Z Do?
Learn how to use these cool Gen-Z facts to communicate with your Gen-Zer in John’s article “How to Start a Conversation with Gen-Zers.”
Read more interesting facts about Gen-Z with the articles “11 Fascinating Facts about Gen-Z,” “10 Fun Facts about Gen-Z You Need to Know,” and “7 Exciting Ways Gen-Z Is Entering the Workplace.”
More Books to Help You Understand Your Gen-Zer
- What Would Gen-Z Do?
- How to Hug a Hedgehog
- Stressed Out for Teens
- How Raise Perfectly Imperfect Kids
- The Parent Compass
Shaelyn Topolovec earned a BA in editing and publishing from BYU, worked on several online publications, and joined the Familius family. Shae is currently an editor and copywriter who lives in California’s Central Valley.