What Are the Differences Between Millennials and Gen Z?
It only takes one generation to change the world.
It's easy to get Gen Zers and millennials confused. Not only are they separated by just a few years—the Pew Research Center identifies millennials as people born between 1981 and 1996 and Gen Zers as those born from 1997 through 2009—but both demographics are known for the same things: being glued to their phones, oversharing on social media, and being broke dreamers with giant chips on their shoulders, to name a few.
However, Gen Zers and millennials have just as many differences as they do similarities. From what stresses them out to how they spend their free time, here are the major differences between people in their mid-20s and 30s (millennials) and those in their tweens, teens, and early 20s (Gen Zers).
They spend their free time differently.
How do young people prefer to spend their free time? Well, that all depends on whether the person is a millennial or a Gen Zer. In an IBM report titled "Uniquely Generation Z," researchers found that most Gen Zers—74 percent—prefer to spend time online when they don't have anything else to do.
Conversely, a 2013 Urban Land Institute Foundation report about the digital age found that male millennials are most fond of watching TV, listening to and playing music, and playing computer games, while female millennials prefer to spend time with family, watch TV, and read.
So, though it's a generalization, while Gen Z relies on technology to stay entertained, millennials don't necessarily need to turn to smartphones and computers for amusement.
And Generation Z is especially sedentary.
Unsurprisingly, the age of the internet has made tweens and teens even lazier than they were before.
A survey from market research company Ipsos Mori titled "Beyond Binary: The Lives and Choices of Generation Z" found that while 41 percent of millennials between the ages of 13 and 15 in 2008 were classified as "low activity" in England, 52 percent of Gen Zers within the same age range were in 2015.
On top of that, only 12 percent of Gen Zers in this age group met the recommended levels of physical exercise, compared to 21 percent of millennials.
Millennials are far more skeptical.
It takes a lot more to earn a millennial's trust compared to a Gen Zer's. The Ipsos Mori research found that only 22 percent of millennials between the ages of 15 to 22 generally trusted people on the street to tell the truth; comparatively, a staggering 61 percent of Gen Zers in this same age range said that they generally found strangers trustworthy.
Though the difference in these percentages is intense, the report notes that "this says more about how abnormally distrusting millennials were than how trusting Generation Z are now."
Gen Zers crave more flexibility in the workplace.
Gen Zers grew up in a world full of entrepreneurs, being told that life was about taking risks and living every day like it's your last. As such, trend reports company McCrindle noted in their analysis titled "Understanding Gen Z" that while millennials tend to seek "job security," Gen Zers are more focused on "flexibility" in the workplace.
"As we look to Gen Z to be the future employees, it is apparent they will find importance in a work/life balance, team focus, enjoyment, empowerment, support, flexibility, involvement, creativity, innovation, and global working atmosphere," the report notes. "They will also be characterized by many jobs, lifelong learning, variety, above the line, and ownership."
Generation Z is more inclusive of LGBTQIA+ people.
Society has slowly but surely become more accepting and open to members of the LGBTQIA+ community. So the younger you are, the more likely it is that you have grown up around someone who's openly LGBTQIA+. For instance, one 2019 survey from the Pew Research Center found that 35 percent of Gen Zers personally knew someone who used gender-neutral pronouns, compared to just 25 percent of millennials who did.
What's more, the Ipsos Mori research found that while 71 percent of European millennials consider themselves exclusively heterosexual, only 66 percent of Gen Zers do.
And they're more likely to sympathize with racial injustice.
Racial injustice has been a hot button issue for decades, and it appears that people are finally ready to do something about it. In the same Pew Research Center survey, 43 percent of Republican-leaning Gen Zers noted that they felt blacks are treated less fairly than whites, compared to just 30 percent of Republican-leaning millennials.
Their anxiety is fueled by different things.
Both millennials and Gen Zers are extremely stressed—but it's what is fueling their anxiety that ultimately differentiates them. According to the American Psychological Association's "Stress in America: Generation Z" report from 2018, things in the news like mass shootings, rises in suicide rates, climate change, and immigration issues are all factors that affect Generation Z's stress levels significantly more than other generations'. Specifically, the 75 percent and 62 percent of Gen Zers reported feeling stressed about mass shootings and suicide rates respectively, compared to 62 percent and 44 percent of adults overall.
For millennials, on the other hand, the main sources of stress include things like money, work, and domestic disputes. In fact, a 2019 survey commissioned by CBD oil company Endoca found that the top five stressors for millennials were losing a wallet, arguing with a partner, commuting delays, losing a phone, and arriving late to work.
Of course, this isn't to say that Generation Z doesn't fret over finances and lost or stolen items; rather, it simply emphasizes the fact that, since Gen Zers grew up in a world where media is always available, they are more likely to suffer from the stress-inducing effects of all the negative news and current events out there. And the next time you come across someone in their 20s and 30s, make sure you keep in mind these 40 Things People Over 40 Need to Stop Blaming Millennials For.
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