From text messaging and touchscreens to Siri and tablets—the past decade of the technological revolution has rocked our world. But for Generation Z, the cohort of kids born from 1995 to 2009, these advancements are less of a revolution and more a pedestrian progression. These individuals—the oldest of which are turning 19 and starting to impact the economy—have never known a time before the Internet.
Their relationship to technology is second nature, with iPhones, tablets and social media platforms acting as an extension of their being. The 2013 Pew Research Teens and Technology study revealed that one in four teens are “cell mostly” Internet users, forgoing desktops and laptops for the convenience of their phone. Fully 95% of teens are online, a percentage that has been consistent since 2006.
Yet, the question I have is, does an aptness in navigating Vine and YouTube on a cell phone and a voracious appetite for Instagram videos and Snapchat pics mean that Gen Z is great with technology? Are they ready to take the technological revolution to the next level? To help your business adapt and change?
Technological devices have always been easy for Gen Z. They have never needed to install a hard drive or operating system, wait for a dial up Internet tone or trouble shoot their devices. When they need to program a new phone, Apple Genius will do it for them. When their tablet is slow, it can be replaced with a free upgrade.
With a plethora of skilled IT jobs awaiting this wired generation, we need to ask ourselves if these future computer engineers are equipped to investigate problems and create a solution on their own, without three-step instruction manuals and Internet search results.
If thought, preparing for today’s IT world means understanding how a highly sophisticated Internet and computer environment actually works and having an insatiable drive to learn how to fix and evolve our digital environment, then I’d argue that kids these days really aren’t that good with computers. They need to be.
As parents, teachers and future employers of Gen Z, we need to encourage today’s teenagers to ask the right questions, seek the answers themselves and to fix rather than replace.
If we can do this, then Gen Z will have a leg up on the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of the boomer generation, who disrupted today’s technological landscape. If we can do this, then I’ll be excited to watch today’s college sophomores enter the workforce in three short years.