Who is Generation-Z? On a fundamental level, they are people born between 1995 and 2012 (although there are debates surrounding the exact cutoff dates), and will make up 40% of all consumers by the year 2020. Gen-Z is the first generation to grow up swiping left on a screen, rather than having to turn a physical page. If you asked them to use a card catalog at a library, the look on their face might read “cannot compute” (pun intended). They are said to have attention spans shorter than that of a goldfish, and have become socially stunted due to their reliance on technology. But is this all true?
While the library catalog part probably is, the rest paints almost a caricature of Gen Z instead of the real picture.
Busting the Goldfish Myth
The most prevalent belief surrounding Gen Z is that their fixation with technology and social media has caused them the inability to focus for longer than 8 seconds at a time. While this may be true in a sense, the reasoning behind it is not so pessimistic.
Gen Z is the information generation. They are the first generation that has never had to search for information in a physical book while writing a paper in high school. The sources they cite in term papers and assignments consist mostly of website URLs and peer reviewed journals (found and downloaded online). But this is not the fault of the student; information is published online because it makes sense to publish it to the widest audience possible.
For today’s generation, new information is constantly being published. No longer do people have to wait to buy the newspaper in the morning, or wait to turn on the TV at home after work to get caught up on current events; now, information is being fed to us directly into our pocket, by the minute. Because so much information is being thrown at young people at such an alarming pace, they needed to find a way to manage without missing out. The 8 second filter (discussed in the previously cited article) allows Gen Zs to see as much information as possible and, if in 8 seconds it does not pique their interest, they move on to the next piece.
Generation Z can Focus
Unlike the often idealistic Millennials, Gen-Zs are realists. They know what they want, and are pros at sifting through the fluff. Once they find that thing that interests them, they are completely able to focus and retain information, just like any other generation before them.
Like any living creature, Gen-Zs have learned to adapt to their surroundings. Yes, new skill-sets have been adopted in order to accommodate this new age of information, but that does not mean that they’ve devolved into detached, scatter-brained beings.
The Hunt for Authenticity
Because they are realists, Gen-Zs appreciate things as they really are. They don’t want useless bells and whistles because they look good, they want things that work. Once they find that piece of technology or that product that meets their needs they will not only adopt it, but they will be loyal to the brand.Because they are realists, Gen-Zs appreciate things as they really are. They don't want useless bells and whistles because they look good, they want things that work. Click To Tweet
The same mentality goes for higher education. Unlike Millennials who were told that having “a degree” was their ticket to a great life, Gen-Zs are much more particular and mindful when it comes to choosing not only their field of study, but their institution as well. They understand that achieving their life-goals will take hard work, and will look for the most useful tools to get there, even if one of those tools is an 8 second filter.