Post-Millennials and the Future They are Building: How to Support Generation Z
The youth of today, otherwise known as Generation Z, will be the adults of tomorrow. As such, they will be the future leaders of the global world and will have the responsibility of preparing the rest of humankind for the times ahead. It is, therefore, important to learn the challenges they face and the obstacles they must go through to succeed in life.
A Legatum Institute report reveals how technological advancements, such as social media platforms, have impacted the lives of post-millennials. It has found that the youth of today have the potential for greatness. However, mental health issues have become prevalent among adolescents as well.
The report has defined three key factors (family, community, and schools) that may contribute to a brighter future for those in Generation Z. Read on to learn more about the study.
1. Adolescence Today
In the past, specially during the industrial era, children had a function in society. They either joined the workforce or had important tasks to complete at home while parents were away.
Today, a young person’s main “job” is to attend school. They may not be required to earn a wage or make other contributions to the household right away. Modern technology has liberated them from specific responsibilities and provided a myriad of possibilities for Generation Z as well.
Post-millennials have the freedom to define their roles in society. To do so, they must actively search, pick, and fight for opportunities. As a result, the age of maturity has gone up.
Those in Generation Z don’t officially recognize themselves as adults until their early twenties. They also tend to delay certain responsibilities associated with adulthood like getting a driver’s license, moving in with a significant other, or finding a proper career path, until they have found their footing in society.
2. Characteristics of Generation Z
- Independent and Reliable
Post-millennials were born in a world with modern resources like the internet, and know how to use them to fulfill their needs. As such, adolescents today are usually independent, though they also rely on their fellow Generation Z peers. Due to their resourcefulness, 85 percent of people aged 16 to 19 years and 80 percent of those aged 20 to 24 years look at the immediate future with positivity, reports a 2012 study.
- Socially Conscious
Majority of those in Generation Z want to make a difference in the world. For instance, they are more inclined to participate in volunteer work. Most of them also want a career that could initiate positive change in the world, such as positions in nonprofit organizations.
Despite being raised in an era of technological advancements, plenty of post-millennials have traditional values. For example, 98 percent of youth in the UK believe that marriage is a vital part of community.
A 2014 study on the attitudes of adolescents discovered that Generation Z tends to perceive the distant future as bleak. Seventy-seven percent of youth in the research did not think they would have stable jobs like their parents, while 83 percent believe they would not be able to afford a home.
3. The Mental Health Crisis
Post-millennials are less likely to do drugs, participate in crimes, or get pregnant at a young age. However, they are more susceptible to mental health issues.
A 2016 study conducted by the Department of Education Research in the UK discovered that reports of teen depression and anxiety have increased by 70 percent. Thirty-seven percent of girls 14 to 15 years old exhibited signs of psychological distress. In addition, the study found that a significant number of 14-year-old girls (24 percent) and boys (9 percent) were depressed.
Cyberspace, specifically social media, has been identified as a major contributing factor to the rising symptoms of psychological distress seen in today’s youth. In Britain, 37 percent of 15-year-olds identify as heavy internet users, a practice which has been linked to feelings of isolation.
A 2017 US study on social media and its impact on people concluded that online relationships should not replace those in the real world. As such, online community platforms should only be used to reinforce or add to already established connections.
How to Support the Youth and Diminish the Mental Health Crisis
Family, community, and school systems are all integral structures that support the development of a growing child. As such, they can significantly impact the rise of mental health issues among adolescents.
The family environment children grow up in impacts their mental health. According to a study conducted in the ’90s, kids raised in single-parent homes were more susceptible to mental issues in Great Britain.
Research has shown that children need the guidance of their parents in navigating society. Their guardians can help them figure out their roles and how they can contribute to the community as well.
Besides family, the people a child grows up with are vital. Adolescents who receive support from friends, peers and other adults in the community usually have a healthy state of mind.
As mentioned before, establishing real-world relationships is very important to mental health, which is why youth should be encouraged to interact with neighbors and those around them. Mingling with others can help a child develop a broader understanding of society, its roles, and how people contribute to it through work or other means.
3. School Systems
Education is an excellent place for the youth to learn their role in society. Teachers and other academic role models can teach the next generation of adults the skills they need to prosper in the workplace and build a bright future.
The acquisition of key skills and knowledge can help decrease Generation Z’s pessimism about the distant future by providing them with the tools to solve the problems of today.
Giving Hope to Generation Z
The Legatum Institute, an investment firm, believes that adults today should give post-millennials their best shot at creating a bright future by addressing their biggest obstacle — the mental health crisis. To do this, they need family support and stability, a supportive community, and holistic quality education.
Below are some questions related to the three key factors mentioned above. They were raised in the Legatum research and have yet to be answered:
- How can parents get assistance in building a supportive home?
- How can post-millennials get the encouragement they need to become more active in real-world communities instead of social media platforms?
- How can educational systems be improved to ensure they have the capacity to help address mental health issues among young members of society?
- What sort of materials should be used to teach kids in school to prepare them well for their future adult roles?
- How can the burden on schools be reduced?
Global think tanks such as Legatum intend to pursue further studies on Generation Z and find the answers to the questions above. Research on mental health issues among adolescents, and the other challenges or opportunities post-millennials may face is essential.
Work among stakeholders, academics, experts, governments and civic groups must continue to accomplish these goals.