By Annalise Walliker
THEY may come at the end of the alphabet, but they’ll soon be at the forefront of tackling the most complex problems our world has ever faced.
They’re Generation Z, born from 1995 onwards, the latest generation made up of today’s babies and children.
This year sees two important milestones for the Zs because the oldest of the generation are becoming teenagers and this year’s prep students will be the graduating class of 2020, the year now the focus of the Rudd Government’s summit.
But, even though some Gen Z children have not been born yet, experts can predict their key traits by understanding their childhood and the challenges they face.
Gen Z had easily adapted to the challenges of the modern world, including technology, terrorism and climate change, said Sarah Cornish, former editor of magazine Total Girl.
“They have never known a life without the internet, let alone computers, and many don’t know a world without mobile phones,” she said.
“Most are also born post-September 11 and some of our readers are concerned about terrorism, and they are much more environmentally aware than previous generations.”
When the Herald Sun interviewed seven Gen Z students from Reservoir’s Merrilands College, aged from eight to 13, almost all identified global warming and climate change as the world’s biggest issue.
When asked about terrorism most could recall the September 11 attacks, despite being only very young when they happened.
Technology is just another toy to play with for many of the children.
“I use the internet a lot. I have a PlayStation 2, a Nintendo DS and a mobile phone. They’re all pink,” Brittany, 10, said.
As a result, we might be raising a generation of little adults where the age of seven was the new 17, child psychologist Andrew Fuller said.
“We’re seeing an erosion of childhood,” he said.
“Kids aren’t allowed to be kids for very long and they’re made into little consumers at a very young age.
“They’ve grown up in a world which is focused on achievement and outcome, and some are suffering anxiety about what they do when they finish school already.”
The looming recession would be a culture shock for the Zs, who experienced unprecedented prosperity during their childhood, Mr Salt said.
“After 16 years of economic prosperity, the probability is Zs will have experienced perhaps quite significant economic turmoil before they get to adulthood,” he said.
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