Championing healthy relationships

and sexual wellbeing

Considering Gen Z

Written by our fantastic schools worker, Megan.

International Youth Skills Day this Saturday is a day to celebrate the skills of young people. But, if you look at the media landscape, it may be surprising, and a valid question in response to this could be: 'what skills?'

I say this also as someone who technically is among the definitions of today’s generation of youth – Generation Z (Gen-Z), albeit the older end of their spectrum.

I think it’s fair to say Gen-Z is easy to underestimate and critique. As social media gurus, information about our private lives is available and displayed online in milliseconds - and our failures are plastered on TikTok.

Shaped by a pandemic, global warming and now the cost-of-living crisis - I think most of us know full well it’s not been an easy ride for Gen Z, nor will it be one. However, once we can see some of the unique strengths and characteristics of the youth of today, I hope that we can all agree we are looking at a new generation full of potential and resilience.

So, let’s begin by defining what Gen-Z actually is.

They are individuals born between the late 1990s and the early 2010s - technically, or according to some researchers. What do I mean? The arbitrary division of society into generations, each with various defining features and history, is not an objective boundary based on factors like age or experience but rather a subjective identity and narrative which warrants scrutiny (1).

Generational segmentation is based on differences seen between belief systems, skill sets, values, communication and learning styles and also the ways media and news have produced heated rifts, commentary and angst (2).

I, for one, grew up hearing from many of the elders in my community of how spoilt, selfish, entitled and careless my generation is!

McCrindle’s research coins the reasons behind this intergenerational conflict and irritability in diverging workplace outlooks, home life values and housing affordability.

The workforce is comprised of a mixture of ages in all levels of management; competition demands for flexible conditions; staying in higher education for longer; priority of work-life balance; rising house costs; and the delays of conventional milestones, alongside a transition into adulthood.

So, in an era with so much social movement against discrimination and towards equal rights, it seems that prejudice and harshness still permeate the young vs. old generational blame game.

To be fair, elder generational rants against youth have been around for millennia! Even Socrates wrote about how the children in his time had “bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect and a love to chatter.”

Yes, the time is ripe to bring some sophisticated open-mindedness, conversation and consideration in developing the narrative between and about generations. Hence, the arbitrary division of society into generations allows for a helpful analytical tool for understanding the changes and commonalities of values, lifestyles and formative events.

So, this common feeling among Gen-Z of being misunderstood leads us to a fascinating article in the New York Times, which asked some of their Gen-Z readers about the label - Generation Z (3).

Most of these readers were unsatisfied with this name. One of them suggested a change of name to ‘Generation Scapegoat’ to encompass Gen-Z’s dark sense of humour and the feeling of becoming the punching bags of previous generations. Other suggestions were ‘Anxious Generation’; ‘Doomed Generation”; ‘The Last Generation’; ‘Generation Fix-it’; and, my personal favourite, ‘The Cleaner Uppers.’

These names indicate the two competing dynamics facing Gen-Z’s identity and environment, that of hope and fear for the future.

Even these labels indicate intergenerational angst, the realisations of a crumbling economy, mental and social health and injustice, but still posited against the unity, power and hope be the change for a better future. They demonstrate a shift in the value systems and the ways Gen-Z connect with people and places.

So, let’s take a quick dive into the characteristics and skills of Gen-Z.

These seven defining features are inspired from McCrindle’s 2018 report on Generation Z (4) and are explored as generationally distinct, demographically changed, digitally integrated, globally minded, visually engaged, socially defined, and educationally reformed.

Generationally distinct

Gen-Z live in a fast-moving climate of change in economic, social and environmental dynamics. Perhaps the main factors which create stark feelings of difference and separation of Gen-Z, is that these changes are happening so rapidly and that by the time research on the impacts of technology, social media, climate change or the pandemic emerge, the damage seems to have already been done.

The ramifications are often so complex that untangling them is an impossibility. Research cannot keep up and potentially neither can the generations surrounding us. This means Gen-Z are truly distinct from their predecessors.

Demographically changed

The impacts of the ageing global population mean that Gen-Z are going to start their careers in a time of massive ageing - they will work longer, and progress slower in their careers.

In the coming years, there will be fewer workers to support the economy as more and more individuals choose not to have children and are entering the workforce later. And with this, an increased demand for work/life balance, keeping employers and even governments accountable for their actions.

Digitally integrated

Previously, technology was used more in a transactional sense to achieve practical, functional tasks to ease human effort. However, Generation Z, having used technology from the youngest age, have seamlessly integrated technology into most areas of their lives, for all kinds of social and emotional uses and connections. So, Gen-Z are digital integrators and innovators.

Globally focused

Generation Z is the first generation to be truly a global one. Not only are the music, movies and celebrities global, as they have been for previous generations, but through technology, globalisation has expanded to fashion, food, online entertainment, social trends, communications and even personalities.

And moreover, all are with nearly instant access and effect. So cross-cultural openness and activism across borders shift the power struggle, inequalities and wars from local to global-based justice.

Visually engaged

Communication across these borders is increasingly image and video-based, bridging language and cultural barriers with colour and pictures rather than words and phrases. Learning styles have changed as awareness of the visual arts and adaptability to incorporate them as driven forward in technology.

Online classes, video tutorials, smart boards and interactive tablets are the norm, making learning possible via all the senses and forms.

Educationally reformed

Not only have learning opportunities changed, but also schools are shifting from teacher-centred to learner adaptive; from curriculum-driven to engagement led; and from formal delivery to more interactive environments. This means more people have access to education than ever before on levels that can be tailored to their needs

Socially defined

Today’s youth are all-day, every day connected to a global social network which provides information and influence to a greater degree in access and amount than anybody could measure and learn.

Generation Z are alive at an amazing time in human history - the possibilities are literally endless. In many ways, very few youths would swap their lives with any other generation at any other time or place because of the comfort, rights and freedoms that are available to more and more people today.


Growing up in, as of yet, the most technologically adept, culturally diverse and globally connected generation, it would be naïve to even vaguely claim I had the full grasp of this topic or the skills we possess! The copious amount of information available to practically the entire world makes us experts of everything and nothing.

There will always be another who has a different, broader understanding or skill, which is at the very least equally valuable as your own. Being aware of this brings me to a place of humility, knowing my self-worth cannot be attached to my expertise or the uniqueness of my experiences.

With rapidly changing social attitudes and heightened public conflict and debate, it can feel like our self-worth, confidence and connections are crumbling, making us progressively bitter, dramatic, agitated, chaotic, cynical, selfish and simply unpleasant.


Post-modernist thought has challenged grand narratives of there being something or someone worth living for other than yourself.  This is something that I see myself and many other of my Gen-Z peers, struggling through.

For if we are nothing more than a natural rise and fall of species without rootedness in some greater, more eternal purpose, all of our defining experiences and places, talents and skills, progress and connections, end in nothing, no fixed point or explanation. 

This is why Gen Z, along with the whole world, needs the message of eternal hope and value-based not on their skills but based on grace.

So, the challenge for the older generations is to offer that grace, wisdom and support so that this emerging generation can be valued for who they are and in so make a positive difference in their era and the future.



  1. Beames, S. (2020). Educating Generation Z [Ebook] (1st ed.). Idrott & Hälsa.
  2. McCrindle, M. & Fell, A. (2019). Understanding Gen Z. Norwest, NSW, Australia: McCrindle Publishing.
  3. Bromwich, J. (2018). We Asked Generation Z to Pick a Name. It Wasn’t Generation Z., from
  4. McCrindle, M. (2018). The ABC of XYZ: Understanding the Global Generations. From