Generation Z — one like no other before it


Generation Z: The selfish generation that can’t tear their eyes or hands away from their phones. The generation that is lazy, doesn’t know hard work and “gets everything handed to them.”

Generation Z has faced many stereotypes. Regardless of the labels put on Gen Z, this generation may prove to be one of the most impactful generations the world has ever seen, due to a variety of factors that no other generation has been subject to.

All the teachers that were interviewed for this story unknowingly agreed unanimously that Generation Z is set apart from other generations because of the increased use of technology in daily life. No other generation has had technology present for its entire school career in a one-to-one format.

“The main difference between when I was in high school and today’s students relates to technology. We had technology and computers were available, but a 1:1 technology initiative was not heard of,” Ms. Jade Leung, a high school biology teacher, said.

An advantage of technology being present in students’ daily lives is that they have the ability to add onto what they have learned in school with technology at home.

“There was one computer in our house and it was in a common area. My millennial students had a similar setup. When I got a drivers license, I was permitted to get a phone. …Gen Z, almost all students have a cell phone and many of them have additional technology at home to supplement the 1:1 initiative we have in the district,” Mrs. Melissa Matlock, SAMS English Language Arts teacher, said.

Those in Generation Z are caught in the changes that technology has created for everyone.

I love walking down the halls of the middle school and seeing so many different kids embracing what makes them unique – different hairstyles and colors, different clothes, different makeup, different interests and expressions.

— Mrs. Jennifer Birch

“Technological advancements have caused society to change in such a radical way in such a short time,” Mr. Steven Balsomico, Japanese teacher at Shaler Area High School, stated.

Generation Z, since it has been exposed to technology for nearly its entire life, has had the chance to adapt to technology’s constant changes while simultaneously incorporating it into everyday life.

A positive outcome of the abundance of technology is that Generation Z is more aware of and more exposed to places outside of Shaler or Pittsburgh. They can hear about people, places and things that are happening on the opposite side of the globe in seconds. This has led to Generation Z being one of the most accepting groups teachers at Shaler have taught.

“I love walking down the halls of the middle school and seeing so many different kids embracing what makes them unique – different hairstyles and colors, different clothes, different makeup, different interests and expressions,” said Mrs. Jennifer Birch, a teacher at Shaler Area Middle School. “And all the students respect that about one another…The comfortability and confidence that I see in Gen Z is inspirational.”

Mrs. Birch also commented that when she was a middle and  high school student she felt “immense pressure to conform to trends” that she doesn’t see in the current generation she is teaching.

Viewing the social patterns of Generation Z, Mrs. Holly McCarthy, a history and sociology teacher at the high school said, “Generation Z is still a generation to be revealed. Millennial and Gen Z are relatively similar in that sense. However, Generation Z has been subject to an array of government policy changes which could be a huge factor in behavioral trends such as, work ethic, job outlook & performance, money management, and even possibly overall coping skills.”

Generation Z does, however, still have to deal with the many stereotypes and misconceptions that “define” this generation, just as the previous generations like Millennials were labeled as when they were younger.

“One stereotype that applies to both generations [Millennials and Generation Z] is they are self-centered and egotistical,” Ms. Sarah Neaves, a science teacher at Shaler Area Middle School, said, “However, I do not believe this current group of kids are selfish. They just view the world differently because of access to information.”

This increased exposure to technology has allowed Gen Z to learn about people, places, and things from everywhere around the world that shape them as an individuals.

“It’s really important, though, to acknowledge that those are just stereotypes,” Mr. Jared Dahlgren, a high school English teacher, said.

Students at Shaler Area also agreed that technology definitely has a major impact on them and in their lives daily.

“With the vast ocean of media, our generation can also be very easily misled and misinformed. Because of this, our generation tends to create several divides within our ideals and beliefs…Our proneness to a divide poses as a great weakness to our generation,” Christian Mendoza, Class of 2025 President, said.

Generation Z is a generation unlike any that has come before it. They face the stereotypes and challenges that any generation faces, but with the addition of technology there is a lot of untapped potential.

“They are the most accepting and kind-hearted people I have worked with,” Mr. Brian Duermeyer, a SAMS English teacher, said on his experience with the students of Generation Z.