Commentary: Generation Z will do well post-pandemic

Older folks should consider finding a reverse mentor

By Dr. Myna German

Generations can be very judgmental about each other. The students I teach now never witnessed 9/11 like my children, the millennials, did. My kids were 9 and 13 then, and it was a formidable experience and part of their life in New York. A 57-year-old neighbor with a political job died in it.

Myna German

The students that I teach now were primarily 1-year-olds then or not born yet. They are called “Generation Z” or the iGeneration. The primary event they will recall will be the 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemic. That is what they will tell their children about, how they had to be home-schooled and couldn’t see their friends “live” due to remote learning.

Fortunately, the iGen has the tools to make it work, as do their professors and teachers. As a baby boomer, I have learned more about computers in the last nine months than in a lifetime and am now quite proficient.

The “Zs” are born 1999 to 2018, according to “ZConomy” by Jason Dorsey and Denise Villa (New York: HarperCollins, 2020). They never knew a world without a cellphone or smartphone. Thus, they are used to or even seeking to learn online, shunning printed texts. This makes it easier to operate in a pandemic, during which we were forced to shift to e-learning.

The millennials do not consider themselves that similar to the “Zs.” They typically have baby-boomer parents, born 1946-64; the latter have parents called “Gen X,” born 1965-81. They are more collectivistic and need to see each other more in person, while the iGeneration grew up with talking and texting from their bedrooms. Thus, being home for them is less of a “stretch.” This helps them cope more with a year spent learning off-site or in their dorm rooms, until the vaccine gets totally disseminated.

Of course, these demarcation dates set by demographers and sociologists are not set in stone. While we all work together, the generations in the workforce and schools, technological change comes easier to some than others. Thus, we need to help each other, and older people need to adopt reverse mentors, younger people who will share technology tips in return for mentoring in the subject matter and careers. With technology becoming obsolete every five to six years, this is even more important.

Generations have always helped each other and will continue to do so.

Dr. Myna German Schleifer is a mass communications professor and graduate writing specialist at Delaware State University.

WP RSS Plugin on WordPress