As the parent of two members of Gen Z, this topic is one I take seriously and personally. I believe both opinions evade responsibility and miss a great opportunity.
Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, are elementary school students, middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college students now. The oldest ones are just entering the workforce. Merriam-Webster is monitoring whether they will officially be called “Zoomers” to decide if they’ll add the word to the dictionary. It’s too soon to tell. My girls aren’t keen on it.
No doubt due to their access to technology, which makes the sharing of content and ideas so easy, Gen Z is far more aware of world events and the problems in society than most of their parents were at their age.
And while many members of Gen Z love the United States of America, they also aren’t too impressed.
In fact, many of them are deeply disappointed, even disillusioned.
The Covid-19 pandemic that has turned all our lives upside down and their growing awareness of the racial inequality and systemic racism woven into the fabric of this country is just the most recent proof Gen Z has to believe that our society is in crisis.
Instead of asking them to forgive us for all this, here are five things we should be doing instead:
Acknowledge the validity of their concerns
The youngest of Gen Z are not yet on social media and are likely unaware of all the problems that they will face. This is not to say their impressions of America are not already being formed. This spring the COVID Impact Survey revealed that over 40% of households with mothers and children under 12 were experiencing food insecurity.
For more than 2 out of every 5 of the youngest members of Gen Z, this means that one of their earliest defining impressions of life in the United States will be their own hunger.