Generation Z and Millennials: A Parental Guide to Understanding Your Teen

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Today’s teenagers and young adults have more to deal with than their older counterparts may realize.  While baby boomers and members of Generation X had fewer luxuries and conveniences growing up than current generations, both Millenials and Generation Z face a unique set of circumstances that are defining the types of teenagers and young adults that they are today.  It’s important for us to understand our teens and what they’re going through so that we can offer our very best encouragement and support for them during their most formative years.

Both Generation Z as well as Millenials have grown up during some of the greatest technological advances in human history.  While older generations have had to adjust to using cell phones and personal computers, teenagers and young adults today are naturally familiar with the newest forms of technology.  Generation Z members are even considered natives to forms of technology like smartphones, Bluetooth, texting and tablet usage, meaning that they’ve never known a world without these incredible gadgets and programs.

That also means that they’ve got access to a lot more information than we could have ever imagined twenty years ago.  A book report in the early 80’s would have consisted of spending all day at the local library or on campus, thumbing your way through bookshelves while trying to decipher the faded labels of the Dewey Decimal System, only to discover a space on the shelf where the reference guide you were looking for used to sit.  Now finding out who the key players were during the Cuban Missile Crisis is as simple as performing a 5-second Google search.

This wealth of information that today’s teens have become so accustomed to exploiting can be good and bad.  The good news is that your teen has information available to him or her that you would have had to pay hefty tuition for back in the day.  The bad news is that the simplicity of use that has coincided with recent technological advances means that many of today’s teens expect immediate actions to produce immediate results.

This can be an unwelcoming issue when your teen becomes a part of the working sector, especially if they’re working jobs that require employees to pay their dues before substantial benefits really kick in.  That’s why it’s important to teach your teen that some things in life don’t come as easily as swiping a thumb across an iPhone; some things require a lot of hard work, dedication, and time before the desired results can be achieved.

While it’s essential to help your teen understand that many things in life don’t come easy, youshouldn’t lose sight of everything that Generation Z and Millenials have already been through up to this point in time.  Teens today are growing up in a post-9/11 world, chock full of security screenings, the TSA, terrorist attacks, shoe bombs, school shootings and continuous global tensions.

As if these events aren’t enough to worry any grown adult, the teens of today have 24/7 access to the latest news on their CNN smartphone apps, breaking stories about the Middle East via Twitter feeds, and a plethora of fear and hype stories that fill up their Facebook newsfeeds every single day.  It’s a brave new world for today’s teens, so we need to understand what they’re exposed to on a daily basis before coming down too hard on them.

Understanding your teen is a vital first step to ensuring that you can help him or her work towards a fulfilling career and a bright future during the years where teens need their parents the most.  You may think at times that your teen is completely disconnected, engulfed in his or her phone while remaining oblivious to outside world, but nothing could be further from the truth.  The fact is that it’s quite possible your teen knows more about what’s going on from day to day than you do, so make it a point to talk to your teen daily.  Taking a moment out of each day to sit down and have a conversation with your teen is a fundamental way to be sure that you fully understand your teen.

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