We Leesville students live under a roof alongside those who are generations past. Our grandparents are baby boomers, our parents Gen X’ers, and our older siblings Millennials. Each generation maintains characteristics associated with individual time periods and past beliefs. Us? We are members of a brand new demographic in just the dawn of our formation: Generation Z.
Generation Z is defined as members of the general populous born during and after 1995, as defined by the New York Times, with 1994 being the cutoff point for Millennials. Besides the clear age gap, Generation Z is defined by several unique traits and characteristics that distance its members from both Millennials and preceding generations.
For starters, Gen Z’ers are defined by their early exposure to and widespread use of the internet. Born into the age of affordable Windows ‘98 computers and Internet Explorer, many of us have a long involved and technical understanding of how technology operates in our day to day lives. Sure, when you were a kid and your parents restricted your internet usage, you bugged them for hours on end with questions about how the world works. Now, however, when you’re trying to figure out what role King George III played in the Revolutionary War, you’re probably not going to crack open a book to look it up: you’ll “google” it instead.
Our generation also isn’t just marked by our widespread usage of available technology, but also by the way in which it translates to our performance in various other endeavors. One of the direct effects of our prolonged internet usage is our exceptional multitasking abilities. Flying from one website to another to conduct extensive research, this quick processing tendency likely affects other areas of our day to day lives. Ever feel like you’re one step ahead of your parent’s words? You might be, but that could also be due to a shortened attention span, characteristic of continued internet usage.
“I believe that Generation Z is less focused because of the use of social media and other distractions [created] these days,” stated Elizabeth Gamble, junior at Leesville.
In a study conducted by Dr. Lee Haddington back in 2015, excessive screen time and internet usage were found to be linked to an increase in ‘cognitive failures’, which entail lapses in both perception and memory. Vague, sure, but it can be inferred that this claim was made in reference to decreased attention time, a factor cited by many researches in separate independent studies.
Similarly, when 7 randomized individuals from Leesville were asked what the greatest contrast between previous generations and ours was, technology and dependence on it was universally accepted as the leading factor. “I would say that we typically rely too much on technology,” said Peyton Winstead, another junior at Leesville.
According to a study completed by The Gild, Gen Z is also the most conservative leaning generation since that of the Silent Generation, which began in the late 1920’s. In a separate study of 50,000 people conducted by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, results showed that Gen Z tended to vote Republican, compared to that of Millennials that tended to vote more Democratic.
Gen Z also tends to be more fiscally responsible than preceding generations.This is evinced by a study conducted by the Business Insider that reveals our tendency to be more practical and frugal with our earnings compared to other generations before.
As both the largest generation in decades and best educated, we Gen Z’ers have quite high expectations to live up to. Pioneering a new generation that has yet to be fully defined, we must take care as students to maximize both our individual potential in life, and, as a collective body, working to achieve great and exciting new things for the future.