A Letter from the Editors
April 17, 2019
We’re sure you’ve heard a lot about your generation: Generation Z, often called the iGeneration. Whether bad—such as industries and careers being killed off, or good—such as students activism and STEM education on the rise, Generation Z comes at a pivotal time in history. It’s important to note that putting a group into an airtight box presents consequences, inhibiting possibilities and encouraging generalizations.
By exploring Generation Z, we aim to not generalize a broad age group, but rather explore trends that can create understanding towards how the political and social landscape shapes a generation.
As Meghan Grace—our main source on Generation Z—sees it, generations aren’t labels, but reactions: “Generations develop in response to what’s going on in the world around them. I think about September 11th. Only five years of Generation Z were actually alive when September 11th happened; the vast majority from that generation will be learning about the even from a historical perspective.”
This difference is eye-opening when comparing different generation experiences (page 6). When asked what event significantly affected their lives, those we interviewed had a different experience on the fateful day, often based on their age at the time. Because of the large age range within generations, the same event may have been completely different for someone even five years apart. In our own school, a freshman and a senior differ greatly from each other in more ways than life stage. Within our own experience, the Trojan Tribune seniors feel that they are not as connected to technology as freshmen, who may have had exposure to an iPad in elementary school.
Even so, technology usage often depends on the individual’s own habits, as evidenced by out student screen time study (page 8). Screen times ranged from two to five hours across grades with a large portion devoted to social media. With the continued prevalence of social media, peers that are just another face in the hallway can have thousands of likes when their face is filtered and curated for an Instagram post (page 11).
We’ve also seen technology, a common factor on much of Generation Z culture, lead to increased discussion towards mental health (page 13) and increased purchasing power from teenagers armed with debit cards (page 10).
Rather than being weighed down by Generation Z stereotypes from older generations who wait with baited breath for us to trickle into the workforce, we’ve found that it is better to embrace it. Ultimately, a generation is much more than the year you were born—it’s a moment in time where we’re given the opportunity to explore a society that is untouched, waiting for us to claim it.
Meet Meghan Grace
Meghan Grace was an essential source for this issue of the Trojan Tribune, providing the basis of our introductions for each topic explore through the Generation Z perspective. Grace co-authored Generation Z Goes to College with Dr. Corey Seemiller, who is an expert in leadership education and a Generation Z researcher. Conducting a study with over 1200 students from 15 colleges, Grace and Seemiller investigated how the new generation’s behaviors will impact colleges and the workforce.
They’re currently working on a new study entitled the Generation Z Stories Project, focused on open-ended responses from Generation Z. Grace is also a speaker at universities and conferences while running a podcast dubbed #Gen Z, providing another platform for the young generation to share their perspectives.