When you think of today's teens you might assume that they all belong to the Millennial generation. But while Millennials will continue to influence culture for decades to come, if you are now raising teens, it's likely that they belong to Generation Z, a new and emerging generation of teenagers.
Even though research into Gen Z is in its infancy, two things are consistently agreed upon by students of culture: 1) Gen Z teens are now on the scene, and 2) they, like all previous generations, will carve out their own unique characteristics and have their own distinctive values, attitudes and behaviors.
Researchers have started turning the lens of examination on Gen Z. One recent study by Northeastern University compiled information obtained from surveys of over 1,000 teens 16-19, and this study may be one of the first to attempt to build our understanding of this new generation.
Here are some characteristics of today's teens that were obtained through the study:
- Today's teens are concerned about the costs of going to college and the debt that is often part of the college experience.
- Two in three fear they might not be able to find a job after college.
- Four in ten expect to be self-employed during their adult career.
- More than half believe that anyone should have a right to become a U.S. citizen no matter how they enter the country.
- Half receive their news online. Only two in ten get news from watching television.
- While technology is simply a part of everyday life for teens, two in three (69%) prefer to interact with friends in-person over interacting online, with only 15% preferring online.
- 70% would not use electronic methods (online, phones, texting, etc.) to ask someone out on a date.
Questions for Parents:
1. If your teen is planning on attending college, how can you help prepare her/him to deal with the financial aspects?
2. If your teen expresses concern about accumulating significant debt to attend college, how can you help her/him think through alternatives to amassing debt?
3. How does your teen view today's significant social issues like immigration?
4. What points of tension might you experience with your teen based on their views of these social issues?
5. Does your teen prefer to connect with friends online or in-person? Why?
6. How can you encourage your teen toward more in-person interaction with their friends?
7. How can you influence your teen toward better integration between life issues and their faith?