“We believe we will wind up looking more like iGen, than they will wind up looking like us.”
-Jason Dorsey, co-founder of The Center for Generational Kinetics.
Do you have personal memories of 9/11?
The answer to this question will determine if you are a member of the Post-Millennial Generation or not.
Because generational experts believe that the tragedy of September 11, 2001 was the single moment that ushered in the newest generation. Get Z. Also known has the iGen.
As one generational expert says, “If you don’t remember 9/11, you are not a Millennial, you are an iGen.”
While in the world of HR, this generation is often times referred to as Gen Z, much of the research surrounding this generation is done with the label iGen. Therefore, as leaders and HR experts, it is important that we know both names for this incredible generation.
Meet the iGen
“I lost my phone for a week once, and I had three thousand messages,” - 11 year old Molly.
Molly, like many of her cohort, spends most of her time communicating by text with friends, but this is not the only difference that makes her and her contemporaries stand out from previous generations.
Imagine growing up during an extreme recession in which your family and your friends’ families lost their homes and your parents lost jobs. Imagine a world where technology always existed, your baby pictures and videos were posted on social media, and there was never a need to go to a store, or call a friend to chat. Uber has been around since you were in middle school.
Imagine growing up iGen
Dubbed iGen by psychologist and author Jean Twenge, this generation is also known as Gen Z, Centennials, and Founders. Born after 1995, (though some scholars place the break at those born after 1997) this generation is the first to spend their entire adolescence with the iPhone, hence the name iGen.
In fact, technology is so ingrained for this generation Jason Dorsey, researcher and iGen expert, claims in his TedEx Houston talk that technology affects iGen in a way even Millennials have not broached. According to Dorsey, while many Millennials are dependent on technology, and focused on how technology can enhance an experience, Dorsey argues that for iGen “technology is the experience.”
While the iGen nation accounts for 61 million people in the United States (a group, by the way, that is larger than Gen X and 2/3 the size of the Baby Boomers) researchers agree that iGen are largely uncharted territory, partially because there is only a limited amount of research on this new generation, and partially because this generation is still forming, as its oldest members are only 25 and many of its members are still teenagers and children.
What researchers do already know is both inspiring, and heartbreaking.
iGen self-report using screens between 2 to 5 hours a day, with girls focusing more on “texting and connecting with their friends through social apps such as Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube and Snapchat; the boys are more likely to lurk on Reddit and play games (many games, for many hours) on smartphones and Xboxes.”
42% admit that social media affects their self-esteem. (That number is higher than any other generation as only 31% of Millennials, 23% of Gen X, and 20% of Baby Boomers reported the same).
“With social media and texting replacing other activities, iGen spends less time with their friends in person” Twenge says, “perhaps why they are experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness.”
As Twenge points out, the high levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness could help to explain why the recent data released by the CDC shows that Covid-19 is having a negative impact on the mental health of this generation (18-24 year olds), more so than any other generation.
Amidst the negative, there is much to learn from and aspire to with this newest generation.
Here are 3 Things To Love About the iGeneration:
1. They are Money-Wise
How many members of the iGen cohort are already saving for retirement?
According to the Center for Generational Kenetics a whopping 12% are.
Even more impressive, 37% plan to save for retirement in their 20’s.
According to research by the Center for Generational Kenetics, 48% of iGen already have a money app on their phone, 21% have had a bank account since the age of 10, and 56% have discussed saving with their parents in the last 6 months.
Forged by the mistakes of their parents and the life experience of the 2008 recession, this generation has an incredible financial education, courtesy of their own parents. As a result, most iGen are more thrifty and less idealistic than their Millennial counterparts. Most iGen are also serious about saving and avoiding debt. For some, certain debt is okay for certain purchases, and others prefer the more radical approach of no tolerance for credit cards or debt.
2. They are Diverse
Dorsey claims that the iGen generation is “so diverse that they only notice diversity when it is absent.” This has led their generation to see political hot topics as non-issues. According to Corey Seemiller, educator and researcher, the iGen do not subscribe to traditional political leanings. They tend to be more socially liberal, while at the same time financially conservative.
Furthermore, the Washington Post commented, “They [iGen] are the most racially diverse generation in American history. They are extremely open-minded and fluid in the way they think about gender and sexuality.”
3. They Have an Entrepreneurial Spirit [and want to change the world]
According to Seemiller, nearly half of iGen say they want to start their own business in the future and nearly 40% want to invent something that will change the world.
Seemiller says iGen are not interested in launching their own companies in order to seize control of their own career trajectory or to be their own boss. Nor are they interested in creating giant companies. The dream is to build a small, self-sustaining company (remember the emphasis on financial prudence) that is focused on a topic they care about, because as Seemiller points out:
“To them making a difference is far more important than making money.”
Although research is ongoing for this generation as they mature and reach adulthood, tens of millions of iGen adults are already in the workforce-with many more on their way, so it is important for us to fully prepare our businesses and organizations for this diverse, financially responsible, and highly innovative generation.
As the Center for Generational Kenetics points out, The iGen are “increasingly self-aware, self-reliant, innovative and goal-oriented,” who in some ways resemble Gen X and Baby Boomers more than Millennials.
With a resume like that, it will be exciting to see just how they contribute to our world and workplaces in the coming years and beyond.
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