Illustration for the article "Gen Z and Communication in a Digital World"

Gen Z and Communication in a Digital World

Who are Generation Z? Well, the simple answer is those born between 1995 and 2009. One definition that I especially like is that Gen Z are the first generation to live in a society that started looking at screens more than faces. Colloquially known as „Zoomers,” the nickname originated from combining the shorthand „boomer” (from the baby boomer generation) with the „Z” from Generation Z, hence „Zoomers.”

It is fair to say that they are the first generation to have grown up with the internet along with portable digital technology. The parents of Gen Z are Generation X and, in older cases, Millennials. The various names that they have been given endorse their love of the screen, so screenagers, click-and-go kids, and the kids. It is worth noting that there are over 50 billion connected devices on earth, which is about seven times larger than the total population of the planet.

No boundaries or Borders

It is without a doubt a digital world, which is by definition constant, ubiquitous, and, more than anything, fast. What I find most interesting is that when you compare this generation to other periods of historic changes, such as the industrial or agricultural revolutions which had real limitations, this new world order has no boundaries or borders. Today over half the world use a smartphone and a staggering 75% have access to some sort of mobile device.

This is truly the world’s first global generation. When you think about music, films, and God bless them celebrities (which you could argue was the case for previous recent generations too), this generation, unlike their parents and grandparents, share tastes in food, fashion, entertainment with their counterparts worldwide. Social trends are now global rather than national. Just look at the worldwide success of TikTok. To people of my generation, when I hear TikTok, I think clock, but then again I am a baby boomer born in 1960.

Is Gen Z Social?

Gen Z really does love TikTok. A recent survey found that due to the video format of the results and the more relatable and personalised answers that the Zoomers received, it was love at first sight. In fact, TikTok is the search engine of choice for more than half of Gen Z and influences their purchase decisions more than any other platform. This says an awful lot about their communication, methinks, although it would be wrong to think that Gen Z are not a social lot; they actually are. Not so much face to face, but via handheld devices you can’t keep them away from each other. Just to reinforce the point, if social media sites were countries, then Facebook would be the largest at 1.5 billion, followed by China at 1.4 billion, India at 1.3 billion, and Instagram at a modest 400 million.

Interestingly, and much to my great surprise, emerging economies are adopting technologies as swiftly as the developed parts of the world. For example, 12% of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa have a mobile money account, while globally only 2% do.

How does Gen Z communicate?

Research into Gen Z and communication suggests that their communication style is concise, informal, and ideally in text format. However, this does not fully characterize Gen Z’s communication preferences, as they actually value transparency and in-person interactions.

So what do we define as the key characteristics of Gen Z? Well, first things first, they are growing up fast, they love travelling, they are prone to anxiety (mind you if you fly with Whizz Air I am not surprised anxiety is involved). They are not as environmentally positive as you may think (not all Greta’s to be fair), and they love their gaming as it is more than a hobby. In addition, they will be embracing AI quite happily, and they shape culture through social media. Finally, and let us hope and pray that this aspect stays with the Zoomers and does not move on to the next generation, but they seem to enjoy the delights of „Sexting” whatever the hell that is… certainly not part of my generation, I can tell you thank the Lord. P.S. I don’t think that they believe in him either!

Author: Austin Birks, CEO, Verita HR Group

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