Tech-Savy, Yet Disconnected, and The Future of Our Country: Generation Z

How our most recent generation is dealing with a life of inter-connectedness and living life on the edge

Mallory Joy
6 min readFeb 26, 2020
Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

Today’s students are some of the most technologically savvy and globally connected kids on the planet… and yet, this generation is also one of the most disconnected generations ever.

Between Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter, our students have the world at their fingertips, and yet, families are more disconnected than ever.

Gone are the days of family dinner at six o’clock sharp. Gone are the days of “Leave It To Beaver” moments in the home.

Here to stay are latch-key kids; breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the go; and the reality that many students only have one parent at home.

Here to stay are shooting threats on social media, peer pressure to keep up with the Kardashians, and a general sense of entitlement.

As a result, our students come to school more broken, more confused, and more aware of all the things that are wrong with this world than ever before.

Walking down the hallways in my school each morning, the buzz of the early morning hours fills my ears before I quickly hear explitive filled sentences between two girls obviously bickering over something.

I quickly move to correct the behavior, but I get cussed out not long after I issue a reminder about language in the hallway. I leave feeling a little defeated.

Later in the day, I hear two boys screaming down the hall words to a very crass rap song with language so inappropriate, your grandmother might have a heart attack.

I, again, move to redirect, and I again get a sort of, “IDGAF” reaction.

In my 4th hour that same day, I had a boy smuggle in a miniature dildo into the classroom that was getting passed around the back of the room, causing a disruption, and took me out of part of my class to deal with it and stealing education time away from the rest of the class.

This, unfortunately, is a fairly common occurrence and one most would assume you would find in a middle school.

However, what isn’t common is the trend that’s been showing up over the last few years involving verbal abuse toward school staff.

One of the things that staff that I serve on has consistently come back to, asking administration to address, is the level of verbal abuse that we take on a day to day occurrence. In any other profession, it would immediately be reported and be dealt with.

Unfortunately, this is not the case in education.

“It’s part of the job” is the theme I hear from many of my co-workers and friends in the education field. We all shrug, find ways to cope, and move from class to class, writing referrals, hoping for change, but knowing nothing will come of it.

At the core, though, that verbal abuse stems from a deeper issue.

Our students are hurting.

It’s often said that:

The kids who need the most love often ask for it in the most unloving ways.

As an educator, I can vouch for this quote.

I can promise that if the kids who need the most loving ask for it in the most unloving ways, they probably do it in the most crass, most verbally abusive ways.

A Glimpse Into Generation Z

While Millenials are defined as the generation spanning from 1980 to 1996, Generation Z is defined as children born between 1997 and 2010. They are our current middle and high school students.

Photo Credit: Visual Capitalist
Photo Credit: Visual Capitalist

And while there are distinct similarities with their Millennial big brothers and sisters, there are also significant differences. These significant differences are what cause conflict between Generation Z and their Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer teachers, parents, and grandparents.

Photo Credit: Visual Capitalist

There are roughly 65 million kids that fall into the Generation Z category living in the world today and are having a profound affect on the way we are being marketed to and the way the media is shifting its focus.

Bridgeworks, a consulting firm from Wyzata, Minnesota, redefined Generation Z as Gen Edge for two very specific reasons.

First, they are growing up on a cultural edge — “they’ll be the last generation with a Caucasian majority and have expanded views of diversity” (Bridgeworks).

Second, they are the generation that has become completely numb to violence due to the overexposure thanks to media of all forms. They grew up with an edge.

As a result, “some have become desensitized and assimilated to violence, while others demand and act in the name of change, equality, and inclusion” (Bridgeworks).

Moving Forward with Gen Z

Taking all of this into consideration, there are a number of things we as Millennials and Gen Xers can do to help support our Gen Z counterparts.

1. Acknowledge Their Risk Aversion

One of the biggest things about Generation Z to remember is that they have realized that the world is a not-so-safe place. As a result, studies have shown that Gen-Zers are incredibly Risk Averse.

According to Bridgeworks, “they face the world and the workplace seeking stability wherever they can find it to quell their anxieties about the future and allow them to enjoy the present.”

As an educator, one of the things I can do to help my Generation Z students in my classroom is to put routines and rituals in place to help ensure stability and consistency. When all the rest of the world is an upset fruit basket, I want my room to be a scerene Japanese garden.

2. Recognize Their Connectivity

Gen Z is the most connected generation to date. From the phone in their pocket to the smart watch on their wrist, they always have information at their fingertips.

3. Harness Their Inquisitive Nature

Generation Z students learn best by creating and doing. Long gone are the days of lecture and notes. Here to stay are the days of projects, tech connected educational assignments, and collaboration between peers.

Recognize that they no longer have to go to an encyclopedia or a dictionary to look up something. They simply open that digital device and type in a word or two and in a second, the answer is in front of them.

Find ways to use their inquisitive nature. Adjust on the fly. If they come in the room talking about something totally different but something they are truly engaged in, use that to your advantage.

4. Recognize Their “On-Demand” World

They have never known how to wait for much of anything. Be it renting a movie or learning about a topic, everything is within reach. This has translated to an impression among older generations as a sense of entitlement, but in reality, it’s just how it’s always been for Generation Z.

While Generation Z has a lot to learn in the coming years as they continue to grow and integrate into our society as business leaders and as the next world leaders, we also have much to learn from them.

We could take a page out of their banking practices. As children of the recession, they are savers.

We could also learn from their willingness to invest in what matters.

As the older generations, it’s imperative we not simply brush them off as the next Millennials who are just there with their headphones, their Snapchat, and their “On-Demand,” needy ways.

We need to come alongside them and guide them as they begin this journey called life, just as the older generations came alongside us.



Mallory Joy

Mallory is a former expat and travel aficionado. She's a teacher, a blogger, and a microbrewery lover. She lives in the midwest with her husband and Lab puppy.