It seems that each new generation takes the blame for the current status of our society. Blame the boomers, the millennials and now, blame Gen Z. Generation Z is the largest generation we have seen with an estimated 69-70 million youth. This generation are digital natives, having grown up with technology and they don’t remember the time before cell phones, or the internet. How do we engage a generation of youth that are unique? Do our programs and methods prepare them to face our current world or one twenty years ago? The Barna group has done some amazing research into the different generations. Here are some of our thoughts on how we can shift how we engage this generation of youth.
This generation can spend upwards of 8 hours looking at screens in a given day. Our programs and groups needs to operate in a way that communicates to and engages youth digitally. You should have a social media strategy in place to equip, empower and engage youth throughout the week. Give them some quick tips of information, give them other ways to connect with your program and engage them in conversations. Help them learn on to stay safe online and develop positive habits. We must continue to leverage technology in order to influence youth.
As this generation is so diverse with many beliefs, and with a hesitancy to undermine someone else’s, youth today need safe spaces. This includes space to just be, free of judgement or bullying, and safe places to ask questions about the world. Many adults feel that when youth ask questions, or why something is the way it is, that they are being disrespectful. What if we changed this mindset to understand that youth are simply getting as much information as they can to formulate their own beliefs and worldview? These safe spaces help youth process a fast-paced and interconnected way of thinking to allow them to develop.
Generation Z is looking towards the future. They measure their success by the professional success, their influence and their financial security. We can walk alongside youth to point to areas where happiness doesn’t always equal money. As caring adults we can also teach them financial lessons early, from saving money to college choices. Helping youth discover their purpose and how they can make a mark on the world allows us to engage youth in new and exciting way.
Times are changing, and how we engage youth should change too. Build authentic relationships with them to help navigate an ever changing social, cultural and professional landscape. We shouldn’t be worried about our future with Generation Z, we should be excited that we get to partner with them in changing the world.