When we are still talking about those who were born in the 1980s or 1990s, it is the generational demographic cohort that followed them that has actually seen sweeping change accompany in the technology world. American demographer William J. Schroer identified those born after 1995 as “Generation Z”.
The emerging new generation has grown up surrounded by digital content. A YouTube video showing a baby trying to zoom in and out a picture has proved that how digital devices have influenced the way the generation Z deals with new things. They are digital natives, and digital technology has influenced their way of thinking and values.
Generation Z is very different from the generation X or baby boomers who are digital migrants. They have a much shorter attention span and prefer watching media over reading. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to learn. They travel around the world far more than their parents or grandparents when they were at the same age. They’ve seen the world and have wide experience and knowledge.
Multitasking is so natural for generation Z. Sticking to one job is not an ideal case, and they would have several different jobs or embrace a “slash” career. In fact, we’ve found some young students already starting to join the multi-career path.
Some secondary school students have started businesses on Instagram, selling items such as desserts or sneakers, apart from being full-time students. I’m impressed as I find they are able to manage the complexity of running a business.
The first generation Z has already graduated from university and joined the workforce. Their values may clash with how things are run today. However, they are an interesting generation as they grow up surrounded by digital technology. They have great creativity, and they know how to apply it flexibly. We should learn to appreciate their thinking and respect the difference, helping them build a better future.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 11
Translation by Julie Zhu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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