Generation Z

Generation Z: Insights from Psychologist Jean Twenge


Generation Z, also known as iGen or Zoomers, is the cohort of people born after 1996. They are the first generation to grow up with smartphones, social media, and the internet as a constant presence in their lives. They are also facing unprecedented challenges, such as a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, climate change, and social unrest.

Generation Z

Generation Z

Better understanding Generation Z

How can we better understand and engage this generation, whether as parents, teachers, managers, or marketers? One of the leading experts on generational differences is Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the author of several books, including iGen and Generations. Twenge has analyzed data from millions of surveys and interviews to reveal the unique characteristics, values, and behaviors of Generation Z.

According to Twenge, Generation Z is different from previous generations in several ways. Some of these differences are:

  • They are more diverse, tolerant, and inclusive. They are more likely to support social causes, such as racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and environmentalism. They are also more likely to have friends from different backgrounds and identities.
  • They are more cautious, risk-averse, and pragmatic. They are less likely to drink, smoke, have sex, drive, or rebel than previous generations at the same age. They are also more focused on their education, career, and financial security. They value stability and safety over adventure and excitement.
  • They are more individualistic, self-reliant, and entrepreneurial. They are less likely to conform to social norms or authority figures. They are more likely to question everything and seek their own answers. They are also more likely to pursue their own passions and interests, even if they are unconventional or unpopular.
  • They are more connected, expressive, and creative. They are constantly online, using various platforms and apps to communicate, learn, entertain, and create. They are more likely to share their opinions, feelings, and experiences with others. They are also more likely to produce their own content, such as videos, podcasts, blogs, or art.
  • They are more anxious, depressed, and lonely. They are facing higher levels of stress, pressure, and uncertainty than previous generations. They are also more exposed to negative information and influences online, such as cyberbullying, fake news, or extremism. They are less likely to have face-to-face interactions or meaningful relationships with others.
Generation Z - Virtual RealityGeneration Z – Virtual Reality

Interacting with Generation Z

These differences have important implications for how we can interact with Generation Z effectively. Twenge offers some practical tips and strategies for different contexts and audiences:

  • For parents: Be supportive but not overprotective. Encourage your children to explore their interests and passions but also set clear boundaries and expectations. Help them develop coping skills and resilience but also seek professional help if needed. Limit their screen time but also respect their online presence and privacy.
  • For teachers: Be flexible but not lenient. Adapt your teaching methods and materials to suit their learning styles and preferences but also challenge them to think critically and creatively. Provide them with feedback and guidance but also allow them to work independently and collaboratively. Use technology as a tool but not a crutch.
  • For managers: Be respectful but not patronizing. Recognize their skills and talents but also provide them with training and mentoring. Motivate them with meaningful work and rewards but also hold them accountable for their performance. Communicate with them frequently but not intrusively.
  • For marketers: Be authentic but not manipulative. Understand their needs and wants but also offer them value and quality. Engage them with stories and experiences but also respect their time and attention. Connect with them on multiple channels but not overwhelm them with messages.


Generation Z is a complex and diverse group of people who have grown up in a rapidly changing world. By learning from the research of Jean Twenge and others like her, we can gain a deeper insight into their psychology and behavior. By applying these insights to our interactions with them, we can build stronger relationships and achieve better outcomes.

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