Gen Z: Years, Age Range, Meaning, & Characteristics

By FamilywaveTeam | Jun 18, 2024

Gen Zers protesting the police brutality faced by members of minority communities
Source : teenvogue

Gen Z is a term used to refer to people born between 1997 and 2012. It precedes the latest generation, Gen Alpha, and succeeds Minnennials, also called Gen Y.

The members of Generation Z are currently between the ages of 11 and 26 years old. The current age can differ based on the different birth years adopted by various institutes. While 1997 to 2012 are the most common birth years, several sites have defined the years to be between 1995 to 2010, 1996 to 2010, 1997 to 2013, and so on.

Gen Z currently has the most diverse demographic as members range of this generation range from pre-adolescents to adults past their early 20s.

Members of this generation are greatly influenced by ideas of liberal Hollywood, climate politics, and gender equity, among others. They primarily follow left-wing political ideologies and take inspiration from celebrities/activists like Greta Thunberg, Millie Bobby Brown, Rowan Blanchard, Malala Yousafzai, and Emma Chamberlain.

Similarly, Gen Z has supported social activism and reforms like the vegan movement, Black Lives Matter, gun control, LGBTQ+ rights, and body positivity. Today, Gen Z makes up more than 32% of the world's current population.

Major global events witnessed by members of Gen Z include:

  1. Aftermath of the 9/11 attacks that took place on September 11, 2001
  2. Launch of the first iPhone on June 29, 2007
  3. Great Recession of 2007, caused by the US housing market collapse
  4. Election of Donald Trump as US President in 2016
  5. Me Too Movement of 2017
  6. COVID-19 pandemic and global lockdown of 2020
  7. Killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis PD on May 25, 2020

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Characteristics Of Gen Z

Gen Zers exhibit behaviors that are hugely influenced by the contemporary political, financial, and technological environment. They are realists and believe in the equal treatment of forms of lives.

Here are some of the primary characteristics that reflect a true Gen Zer:

1. Money-Oriented

Member of Generation Z calculating her finances
Source : investopedia

Gen Zers were, at most, 10 years old when they witnessed the Great Recession in 2007, caused by the US mortgage market collapse. As they saw their older family members lose their jobs and homes, Gen Zers became cautious about money.

Gen Z believes in investing their money instead of keeping it in a savings account. They remain regularly updated about the stock market and take calculated risks by balancing their investments between corporate giants and startups.

People born between 1997 to 2012 are often considered the most money-minded generation. A survey conducted in 2023 found that 63% Gen Zers wanted to save more money than other generations.

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2. Career Driven

Member of Gen Z trying to make a living at her job
Source : gravitashr

Gen Zers are extremely career-oriented and ambitious in nature. A 2019 report suggested that people from this generation value their professional success over getting married or following other passion projects.

Similarly, Gen Zers always have a higher goal while keeping their professional careers. About two-thirds of Zers involved in a survey mentioned that their current jobs were the stepping stones to achieving their ultimate career goal.

However, a Gen Zers' idea of a successful career might differ from the perception of the older generations. While the members are hard-working, they often frown upon the idea of 9 to 5 jobs. They believe in startups and building a company from scratch instead of working for corporate businesses.

3. Emphasis On Mental Health

Famous Gen Z activists (L-R) Amika George, Ellen Jones and Shiden Tekle
Source : theguardian

Gen Zers are incredibly self-conscious and put a significant value on mental health. They prioritize sound mental health as a basic human right.

According to a 2022 survey by Ogilvy, 70% of Gen Zers mentioned they had mental health issues. Due to this, they actively participate in leisurely and recreational activities to maintain a balance between personal life and career.

Moreover, their psychology is greatly impacted by global issues like climate crisis, racial equity, and gun violence. Seeing devastating news on the internet every other day further exponentiates their anxieties and other psychological issues.

4. Progressive

Gen Z politician Maxwell Frost at a rally in 2022
Source : wsj

Gen Z is believed to be the most progressive generation due to its views on equity and social reforms. Zers lean to the left political ideology and prioritize individualism over collectivism.

The generation has repeatedly supported social reforms like gender equality, the Black Lives Matter movement, gun control, universal healthcare, and higher minimum wages.

5. Diverse

Professional team of Gen Zers with members from diverse ethnicities
Source : pexels

Gen Z is possibly the most diversity-oriented generation existing today. They have, time and again, advocated for more diversity in government offices and private businesses.

Inclusivity is a highly emphasized term among Gen Zers. They have regularly voiced for more representation of minority communities in executive positions and upper-level management.

The election of former POTUS Barack Obama as the first African-American US President was a result of people giving up their racist views for diversity and inclusion.

6. Tech-Savvy

Gen Zer using her smartphone for online shopping
Source : cxbuzz

The first Gen Zers were born at a time when mobile phones with cameras were the most advanced technology. With time, they became associated with more technologies like smartphones, MacBooks, iPhones, and so on.

Growing up in the internet era, Gen Z members became content-oriented after the introduction of social networking apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

People from Gen X and Gen Y often seek the advice of Gen Zers in matters related to technology. Young Gen Z members are considered the go-to tech experts by older members of their families.

Also Read: Generation Names And Years In Order

Impact Of Gen Z

With over 32% of the global population identifying as Gen Zers, the generation born between the late 90s and early 2010s has the willingness and resources to change the world.

Unlike the baby boomers or Millennials, Gen Zers are seriously concerned about the health of planet Earth and our future in it. They know we don't have the technology required to move to another planet if Earth is destroyed; so, the best chance of surviving is to protect the one we have.

1. Priority On Mental Health

Visual depiction of the mental health issues faced by Gen Zers
Source : verywellmind

Until the early 2000s, mental health issues were not taken as seriously as it is perceived today. If somebody admitted to suffering from mental health issues, they were simply told to "man up" or "just get over it."

The world, today, has seen a revolutionary change in how it views underlying mental problems. People suffering from conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD can now openly talk about their problems without the fear of being judged.

This revolution in society's perception of mental health conditions was achieved due to the actions and contributions made by members of Gen Z.

2. Climate Awareness

Gen Zer protesting for clean energy to remedy the climate crisis
Source : istockphoto

Gen Z has been successful in raising issues related to the current climate crisis. While concern and activism for our planet's ecological health is nothing new, Gen Zers have found innovative ways to spread climate awareness.

Several organizations like United Nations Environment Programme, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Just Stop Oil have regularly collaborated with Gen Z activists to advocate for minimizing our carbon footprint.

At the same time, climate change activists like Greta Thunberg, Vanessa Nakate, and Mya-Rose Craig have dedicated their time and energy to raising awareness of our planet's health and how to stop it from getting destroyed.

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3. The Great Resignation

Gen Z woman working from the comfort of her home
Source : liquidspace

Gen Zers are willing to work hard but not ready to be a part of a hostile working environment. Unlike their predecessors, Zers will not stick to a job they don't find interesting.

A movement called the Great Resignation, or the Big Quit, is an ongoing phenomenon where skilled workers are quitting their jobs. The trend started when governments started loosening covid restrictions.

The Corona lockdown gave time for people to rethink their career goals. And, when employers began demanding their employees stop working from home, many of them quit as they had become accustomed to working in a familiar environment.

Gen Zers are considered the pioneers of this movement as they were the first to express their dissatisfaction with their existing jobs and resign for better opportunities.

4. Rise In Social Reform Movements

Activist protesting for LGBTQ+ rights at Washington, D.C.
Source : scmp

In the last decade, we have witnessed a significant rise in social reform movements, including the LGBTQ+ rights movement, the Me Too movement, Black Lives Matter, the vegan movement, and so on.

Although Gen Zers can't take the whole credit, they have hugely contributed to shaping how our society functions today. Their social ideologies and treatment of every human as an equal have helped people from minority communities to adapt to big societies.

5. Individualism Over Collectivism

Canadian political commentator Jordan Peterson quote on collectivism
Source : facebook

Gen Z prioritizes the idea of individualism and self-love. Collectivist concepts like nuclear families and patriotism are frowned upon by the members of this generation.

Many Gen Zers consider ideas of collectivism to be harmful to society as the needs of an individual are often sacrificed to achieve a collective goal. Meanwhile, individualistic economic systems like capitalism reward dedicated workers with fame and fortune.

However, there is an exception to this rule. Most Gen Zers, if not all, believe that basic human needs like healthcare, food, shelter, and education, should not be based on capitalism. They are strictly against individuals or governments profiting from these basic services.

Overall, Gen Z is a misunderstood generation due to its concern for the future of the Earth. Gen Zers have promoted extreme ideas to solve the ongoing global crises and have taken their activism too far in some cases, often being unfairly called radical socialists and even communists.

However, their anger and grief with the human society is not out of selfish motives. Instead, they want to have a sustainable future where people don't have to die from starvation or due to the lack of basic health care.

Their main concern is the use of fossil fuels and how it has contributed to global warming. The only solution is to use renewable energy sources and reduce the level of carbon from the ozone layer.