Tuesday 30 January 2018

Hello Gen Z: Engaging the Generation of Post-Millennials by Claire Madden

I picked up Hello Gen Z because I was feeling rather confused. Who exactly are these Millennials we keep hearing about eating up all the smashed avocado? And whatever happened to Gen Y?

Until I read this book, I thought that Millennials were those born from 2000 on, except I don't know very many teenagers eating smashed avocado!

Claire Madden is a social researcher and demographer and she clarified the various generations very neatly in the list below.

Builders - pre 1945
Baby Boomers - 1946 to 1964
Gen X - 1965 to 1979
Gen Y (aka Millennials) - 1980 to 1994
Gen Z - 1995 to 2009
Gen Alpha - 2010 to 2024
Gen Beta - 2025 to 2039 (although this name is subject to change if a major event occurs in their early years like it did for the Boomers).

Mr Books and I are two Gen X-er's living with two Gen Z's. I was curious to read what a social researcher thought about the impact of new technology and social media on this cohort of teenagers.

The fascinating thing that struck me straight away though, was that (minus the new technology and social media stuff) I could have been reading about the teenage world of Gen X-er's in the 1980's as we battled our Builder parents who wanted to mend, fix and save everything!

Gen Z's are just as unrealistic, idealistic and hopefully insecure about their future adult lives as we were 30 years ago. The specifics of what they live with and deal with are different to what we had to manage, just as the 1980's was a different world from that in which the Builder's grew up in. But grow up you do. Some of that lovely idealism gets lost along the way as you find a way to live a worthwhile, purpose-filled life. You adapt, adjust and change.

Things I learnt:

  • Gen Y (Millennials) tend to be the children of Boomers.
  • Gen Z make up nearly a quarter of the world's population.
  • Average age for an Australian to buy their first home is still 32.
  • "rather than memorising the content 'just in case' they may need it in the future, it is about being able to access it 'just in time'. "
  • How to use the word 'lit' ironically in a sentence!
  • KIPPERS - Kids in Parents Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings.
  • Belfies - butt selfies - apparently it's a thing.

Things that annoyed me:
  • "Gen Z are looking for leaders who are real, authentic, relational and genuine." Aren't we all?
  • "there is often still a significant disconnect between how we are attempting to teach this generation, and how they are learning." This was a battle cry by educators 30 years ago during MY uni days - it's obviously an ongoing, evolving debate that hasn't just affected Gen Z. Perhaps its simply an unavoidable disconnect that happens whenever an older generation attempts to educate a younger group?

Things that saddened me:
  • "older generations 'get to experience the world. They know how and when to stop and actually look up and see what is happening around them.' Sophie (b.2000)"
  • 1 in 5 children and adolescents in Australia are affected by mental health and anxiety disorder issues.
  • "There is a longing for authentic relationships and belonging, yet on the whole, they seem to have underdeveloped face to face communication skills and confidence which would help facilitate depth of relationships and belonging."

Things that give me hope:
  • Heavy drinking rates are stable for Gen Y but "Gen Z appear to be getting the message...with nearly 60% refusing alcohol altogether."
  • Gen Z's feel that "their parents were a primary source of support and play a key role in helping them grow, learn and face the world."


  1. We too are Xers raising a couple of Zs. My parents are Boomers, and it seems to me that all my friends' parents were too -- it puzzles me that everybody seems to think my parents should be older, or something? I'm not sure. Anyway, we got called lazy entitled slackers all the time (by Boomers of all people), and we grew up in time, so I figure Millennials will too.

    PS I finished Liane Moriarty's Three Wishes this morning. Pretty good stuff!

    1. My parents were born at the end of the war, so they only just fit into the Builder gen and I'm a 60's X-er. My younger sisters (born in the 70's) mostly have friends with parents who are very early Boomers. So I guess it just depends on which end of the 15 yr bracket you (& your parents) fall into.

      And yes I remember all the negative stuff being said about our Gen as we hit our adult years...and then the poor Y's who got labelled the Y-Me Gen for a while!

      This book made me wish that I had taken more sociology classes at Uni though - I'd forgotten how fascinating I find this stuff.

      Delighted you enjoyed Three Wishes too. It was so entertaining and just what I needed at Christmas time.

  2. I've always thought of myself as a bit young to be a Gen Xer and indeed here I am at the tail end of them (born 1972). Sounds like a very interesting book.

  3. Dear Brona,
    Thanks for this entertaining and instructive review.
    Now I don't have to go around and ask my young neighbors....are you Millennials?
    Sounds like they are aliens from another planet!
    Sincerely yours, a Baby Boomer!

  4. Fascinating read from a Gen X.

  5. I am totally eating smashed avocado (aka guacamole) for lunch.

  6. I am glad you read this so that I can have a clearer picture of the various groups. Another Baby Boomer here.


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