This is going to be the first of a series of post on getting to know Generation Z.  These are the kids who are currently in Elementry-High School.  Moms and dads, you might have thought you were raising Millennials.  Surprise!  Those are the adult children still living in your house.  So maybe you are still raising them…

Before diving into the details, I want to give a big shout out to Amy Jo Girardier at Girlsminister.com.  You should really check out her stuff.  You can even subscribe to her email and get a great PDF summarizing much of what I’ll be talking about over the next few weeks.  You should really subscribe to the podcast as well.  Each week I’m going to have an expert panel of teens that help me break down some of these characteristics and how they play out.  So let’s jump right in.

What to know about Generation Z: They are NOT Millennials!

  • They are less parented
    • I’ve talked about it in a previous post and podcast, but Millennials were characterized by helicopter parenting.  Moms and/or dads hovered over them, stepped in to rescue them, made sure they were affirmed and welcomed and awarded (even when they shouldn’t be).  This group can be described better as having been drone parented.  They’ve all got their cell phones, so mom and dad can sit at home (or wherever) and check in on what and where their kids are much easier.
    • This is great in some ways.  Kids are having to figure out how to manage stuff on their own a little better.  They get to strengthen their decision making muscles more  At the same time, they often lack critical guidance and frame of reference for those decisions.
    • This is important for you to understand.  Even if you are an active and involved parent, it’s very likely that many of your kid’s friends are not.
  • They are more entrepreneurial
    • Siri, google, and youtube have lowered the bar to learning just about anything.  Generation Z can figure out how to play the guitar, build a web page, or start a drop-shipping business from China (I didn’t make that one up, I know an 11th grader who has done this).
    • A FAR greater majority of these students would like to own their own business some day.
    • They’ve still got some work to do. Business leaders are finding that many of these young people want to be in leadership before paying their dues as a reliable worker. They want to bring ideas to the table, not necesarily follow through with the grunt work of making those ideas happen.
  • They are VERY collaborative.
    • Group texting, shared Google Docs, and other advances in technology have enabled Gen Z to work as a team whether they are around one another or not.
    • I’ve noticed in Student Ministry that I can give a trusted group of theses students a general concept and they will feed off of one another to come to a much better idea that I ever would.

All in all, I love this generation, and it’s a fun learning curve to figure out the best ways to stay in their world while calling them to the kingdom of Jesus.

Even if your student doesn’t match every one of these characteristic (and I hope they don’t), you need to know that their peers often do.  Take time this summer, read through these lists, talk to your teens on whether they agree or not.  And listen to these awesome podcasts!

Don’t fret, there’s hope.  God’s doing great things in and through Generation Z!

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