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We all heard the term Millennials at least once, which refers to the generation of those born between 1981 and 1996. Notably different in social interactions from the previous generational group, they have introduced important changes in culture, economy and technology, both in the US, as well as in the European countries.
Numerous articles, editorials and studies have been devoted to this generation, its full understanding being essential for grouping its members into a consumer market. Moreover, establishing a rapport with it gives companies, marketers, opinion leaders and politicians the chance to bring their product, service or platform closer to a consumer zone.
However, what some people ignored until a few years ago, is the fact that Millennials are on the brink of extinction, at least in the sense that their relationship with technology and social media is becoming less and less natural. From an economic, social and cultural point of view they are becoming “obsolete”, and their place is taken by Generation Z.
What is Gen Z?
According to Pew Research, Generation Z includes everyone born since 1997 until 2012. Thus, the “oldest” member of this generation is 26 years old, and many are still in their teenage years.
Even though some of them do not yet have the right to vote and do not enjoy a stable income, their potential for influence is already being exploited by various branches of society. Moreover, their unstable character requires an attempt to prematurely label them, which will later be used to influence the group.
Their obsession with online communication platforms and their rejection of the traditional concept of work sometimes leads them being set aside. However, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that in 2020 they made up a third of the total population of the United States and most European states.
Perhaps the most important aspect of Gen Z is related to their interaction with technology and social media. It provides relevant details not only in relation to their social positioning, but also regarding the changes that various companies, institutions, and individuals need to make in order to not find themselves ignored by this group.
Gen Z and technology
We can say that Z represents the first generation that was “born with a phone in their hand”, having access to smartphones throughout the entirety of their lives. According to a study conducted by Business Insider, almost 80% of Gen Zers already owned a smartphone by the age of 13.
This fact led to a radical alteration of the dynamics and types of communication, which is almost entirely conducted through social media and texts.
Most of those who are part of the new generation have access to a computer or laptop at home, the percentage being significantly affected by the total income of the family in this segment, but also by the level of education of the parents.
These figures also strongly influence Gen Z’s access to the internet, with 45% of young people currently registering a continuous usage. Moreover, a significant percentage of them have access to a game console or spend a good part of their time playing video games.
All these figures reveal the importance of technology for Gen Zers, placing the latter in an era of development, digitization and technologization. Technology governs their existence, and their departure from it becomes now impossible.
Given traits such as direct access to information and speed of communication, everything has an immediate character for Generation Z. Those who belong to this group expect instant gratification, but do not give up fighting for it when they do not obtain it.
They are able to think analytically and use new technologies and communication methods to bring about change. Just because Gen Zers live in social media, that doesn’t mean they aren’t able to see and understand the outside world.
Gen Z and social media
Z is the first generation to connect the internet with their daily routine. Moreover, most young people have grown up in a world where social media is an inseparable part of their lives. They have never known an existence outside of likes, follows and views.
Establishing a connection with others, whether we are talking about friends, family or brands, takes only a few seconds and is done through a tweet or a status update. However, this immediacy does not remain at the level of mere curiosity, but strongly influences the business area, political causes and social initiatives.
Gen Z is quintessentially an online generation. However, certain platforms are starting to lose their connection with it, the best example of this being Facebook.
Even if Zers spend almost one day a week watching content (more precisely 23 hours, of which 11 are consumed exclusively on mobile), there is a fundamental difference between Z and other generations in the way of accumulating information and, implicitly, in the type of content. In other words, Generation Z no longer reads content, they watch content.
The increase in the use of smartphones around the world contributes not only to the transformation of online activities into a natural habit (the best example being checking Social Media every spare minute), but also to the change in the type of content produced and assimilated.
Generation Z is ditching Facebook for Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, showing a preference for pictures, snaps and videos. They consume and create visual content, leaving tedious texts behind.
The Pew Research study shows that only 51% of young Americans use Facebook. This is a drastic decrease compared to 2014, when a study by the same institution showed a percentage of 71%. The big winners of this shift are YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, whose use by Gen Z stands at 85%, 72% and 69%, respectively.
Visual, instant and mobile
These are the three main traits that characterize Gen Z. They always expect instant gratification. Because this is often achieved online, their expectation extends to the everyday world.
Z is the generation that always had access to a smartphone and for whom connectivity is no longer a mere possibility, but a reality.
Last but not least, Gen Zers make a radical transition to visual content, ignoring text. But there is a positive aspect of that last change: the probability that young people who belong in that category will identify errors in this article decreases considerably.
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