WILL THERE ALWAYS BE SOMEONE TO CATCH YOU?

Youngsters born after 1992 are categorized with the label Generation Z, an age group that is also known as “the digital natives”. (Prensky 2009). A Digital Native is being described as extremely digitalized, unlimited and irresponsible, but is that all he is?

Since the beginning of mankind we are putting people in boxes, better know as generations. From cavemen to baby boomers and from hunters to digital natives, all these groups have one thing in commend, developments. That is also the case with the Digital Natives, the latest identified generation nowadays. Generation Z is very present in the Netherlands, they cover at least 22,5% of the total population and therefore are a very important group to take into account (CBS 2012). For this specific age group digitalization is the norm, they grew up with electronic brains all around them and are used to this artificial way of living.

Internet is a part of their necessities of life and these youngsters are online at least 10 hours a day. They are getting flooded with information but actually don’t have the capacity to filter this content on relevancy. Not because they are “dumb” but because their brains aren’t totally developed yet and they literally can’t make the connection between consequences and acts as neuropsychologist professor Steven Petersen describes in his research “the science of thinking” (2010). About 80% of the human brain is already developed before we turn 3, but it takes over more then 21 years for the other 20% to reach maturity. Those 20% of the brain contains the part that is in control of the ability to evaluate risk, long term planning and self-control. Other functions that are stimulated by this specific part of the brain are impulsiveness and sense of responsibility.

Another noteworthy characteristic of this much-discussed target group is their enormous trust in society. Although the common cohesion about these youngsters is not always positive, they still have the confidence there will constantly be someone to catch them when they fall. In general this confidence is justified, for example while the economic crisis has negative effects on the average wages, for Generation Z the average income increased with approximately 7%. (CBS 2012) Their trust in the helpfulness of society is very deeply rooted in their believes and makes them a unique and interesting group to explore.

It isn’t always easy for Generation Z to participate in modern society; they have to deal with a lot of pessimistic criticism of previous generations. This older age group believes Digital Natives are lazy, spoiled, uncreative and arrogant. Nevertheless current research, conducted by SCP (2010), point out that these statements made by other generations are not deserved.

Nowadays society gained more knowledge about this Digital generation and realized that they might have been to fast with their judgments. They appreciate the ambition, self-confidence and the urge to succeed in life of this current generation.

If we take all this information in to consideration, it seems the biggest problem is the acceptance of those who are different from the standard. Each and every generation had to fight against undeserved criticism, had to proof themselves and turned out not as bad as everybody expected.

To use the words of two prestigious researchers of this specific target group, Rene CW Boender and Jos Ahlers; “Known them, understand them and inspire them to have a positive influence on their quality of life”. Because we should give these youngsters the trust in society that they need to see the future as bright as possible, but we also make them aware of the real world. Generation Z, they are the future and we should catch them when they need it.

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