Apps & preparation tools can boost the well-being of Generation Z
When you look at teenagers or young adults, what do you see? What do you understand when listening to them talking to one another? Are they having a conversation at all or maybe just sitting together silently, each focused on their mobile phones? Is it possible they are talking to one another while texting and scrolling their social media accounts? Can you run a face-to-face conversation with someone who is looking at a 6-inch screen the whole time? Can you speak to someone next to you and read social media posts on your phone simultaneously? Welcome to the world of Generation Z.
Gen Z is the generation of people who were born between 1997 and 2012. They are 27% of the United States population which makes them the largest generation. This is the most diverse cohort ever as 48% are from racial or ethnic minorities. The Gen-Zers are less likely to drop out of high school than their predecessors and are more inclined to attend college. It is difficult to portray Generation Z as one peer group with a distinct set of characteristics as they cannot be categorized in one uniform features.
Are Gen-Zers Communicative?
Understanding people from different generations can be quite a challenge, sometimes impossible, which often leads to incapability of running a straight-forward dialogue. People from different age-groups interact differently and on top of that, it seems Generation Z is one that older generations find hard to communicate with. The tricky thing to understand about Gen-Zers is, they are in fact communicative. They do share ideas and express their authentic emotions. But the way they choose to communicate and their perception of the world of communication is quite unique. Generation Z was born into the world of the internet and cellular phones. They are the first generation not to have lived in the era before these two were invented as their predecessors have. This generation is growing up in an environment of ubiquitous computing. All Information can be found immediately online. Messaging and social media platforms connect people all over the world. Altogether it has a substantial influence on the way they communicate. On average, Z-lennials owned their first cell phone just before their 12th Birthday. As they use smartphones from a young age, their communicative world is fashioned by short messaging and visuals (pictures, emoji, GIFs, etc.) which apparently are not always incomprehensible to older generations. Gen-Zers identify online connections as friends although those most likely aren’t strong friendship relationships. Older generations, however, describe friends as people they tend to meet occasionally and their circle of close friends is five individuals at most. Gen-Zers will define friendship with people who they have never met before in-person. Young people view technology as a means of closeness and intimacy, whereas with older generations, technology is perceived as alienating and distancing. Gen-Zers praise the digital communities as it opens up the opportunity to promote causes they value. Z-lennials can easily join an online community regardless of its members’ financial or educational background but simply because they all share the same interests. According to a Pew Research Center survey, teenagers are likely to use their devices to connect with other individuals just to pass time whereas people from older generations would rather meet in person and have a conversation. Furthermore, 43% of the teenagers who answered the survey admitted they use their cell phones to avoid interacting with people. This should raise the question of whether Gen-Zers, more than their predecessors, would rather avoid a significant conversation simply because it requires meeting face-to-face. It may well be that an important conversation in a non-technological environment is intimidating for youngsters.
Online emotional help
Gen Z values authenticity and as a result, they are not diffident about sharing their feelings and difficulties. In their 2018 survey, the APA (American Psychological Association) found that Gen-Zers more than any other generation are most likely to report mental health problems. Females are more likely than male Gen-Z’s to report their poor mental condition. But when it comes to receiving professional help, they equally acquire therapy. Unlike previous generations, Z-lennials are unashamed to admit the difficulties they experience in life. This doesn’t necessarily mean Generation Z’ers suffer more mental problems than their predecessors. But, their attitude towards emotional and mental issues is different. As a result, there are growing numbers of Gen-Zers who are seeking for emotional help. Generation Z’s emotional distress can result from the fact they are still young. Some of the issues can be related to their self-identity search as they begin their adult life. Work and earning enough money is a strong stress factor for Generation Z. This might be linked to the fact that the great recession which broke out in December 2017 had a considerable influence on much of this generation’s childhood. Many of them witnessed their parents lose their jobs and life savings. Whatever the reasons are for emotional difficulties, one thing is clear. This Generation needs accessibility to mental assistance. The APA’s report found that 73% of the Gen-Zers admitted that they could have used more emotional assistance. Receiving emotional support on social media platforms is a little blurry; although 55% stated that social media provided the support they needed, 45% reported they felt judged and 38% said the social media made them feel bad about themselves. Social media is most likely the first option for Gen-Zers to share and seek for help and emotional relief but it isn’t a reliable safe zone.
Scrolling the social life
Gen-Zers, who are now teenagers, might not remember the world without smartphones and tablets, as they use these mobile devices from a relatively early age. Their form of communication has developed much differently compared to their parents’ generation. This actually deepens the gap between adolescents and previous generations. According to LivePerson’s survey, around 74% of the USA and UK youngsters have switched from in-real-life socializing to digital communication. Young ones look at their smartphones to check messages and notifications first thing in the morning as they wake-up and it is also the last thing they will do before going to sleep. Youngsters who wake-up for a short period during the night, quickly peek at their phone to see if they received any messages. Older age groups, like Generation Z’s parents, cannot always understand why their children choose to spend an average of 6 hours a day on their cell phones. In many cases, parents think it is destructive. But a different point of view suggests that for Generation Z the cellular phone represents an extension of the self or in other words, the Gen-Zers have another body organ that older generations do not have. Not surprisingly the Z-lennials rather use their mobile device to communicate by messaging than take a voice call. Parents fume with anger as their adolescents will answer their questions without lifting their eyes from the phone. Most youngsters don’t have any disrespectful intentions towards their parents. They do it simply because they can easily handle both at the same time.
Artificial Emotions Intelligence
Brands understand generation Z is behaving significantly different. As they would like to nurture them to become customers, brands take the required steps to modify the marketing methods. Sometimes even their products undergo adaptations to appeal to Generation Z. One of those changes is the rise of social media influencers. Gen-Zers follow them because the influencers are other people from their own generation that they find relatable. A similar framework could open new channels that will bridge gaps between Gen-Zers and previous generations. It is not only the need to understand one another and improve the communication. It is also an opportunity to develop new technologies that will offer youngsters emotional relief. In recent years, mobile applications and other AI solutions have started to offer mental support and emotional preparation tools. Youngsters can use these to sustain a professionally supportive environment via their mobile devices. In future, these will hopefully encourage them to initiate conversations and improve their communication skills. An interesting worldwide survey conducted on behalf of Dell Technologies found that Gen-Zers evaluate their IT proficiencies as high and are eager to work in a top cutting edge technology environment. 52% admitted they had the technical expertise employers want, yet there was uncertainty if they had the required soft skills. Only 43% of the people surveyed said they prefer communicating with their coworkers in-person over any other method. The worldwide increased awareness to youngsters’ mental health and well-being should involve personalized digital dialogue systems which by a touch of a finger will provide an individual with immediate emotional assistance and add an enlightening self-reflection of the user’s situation. Z-lennials will be able to operate these systems not only for emotional ease but also to try and overcome the difficulty of communicating face-to-face. The online digital road to the Generation Z’ers hearts can light the way to improving their offline communicating skills while relieving any related anxiety.
CommReady is an innovative chatbot companion that helps users prepare for conversations, allowing them to manage their emotions and thoughts. CommReady app features on iPhone and Android mobile devices.