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Move Over Millennials, Here Comes Generation Z

The generation of kids born after 1995 are just starting to show their true stripes.

Just when you thought you had Millennials figured out, the next generation below them is starting to define itself. And while some of the trends set by Gen X and Gen Y continue to materialize, there’s also some new things to know about these kids who have grown up having their baby pictures posted on Facebook.

Jack Andraka was 15 when he created a test for cancer of the pancreas. (Photo: Ethan Hill/Redux)

Jack Andraka was 15 when he created a test for cancer of the pancreas. (Photo: Ethan Hill/Redux)

Trying to define this new group of youngsters, some have called them “Generation Z,” but if that sounds like a bad zombie movie, you can use the temporary generational nickname, “screenagers,” which sounds like a different kind of horror movie. Besides, in a few years, these kids won’t be teenagers any more, and we’ll have to call them something else.

Sure, Millennials grew up with the Internet and their own email addresses in grade school, but these Gen Z’ers have grown up with smart phones in their hands and touch screens at every turn. These new kids have never had to worry about an Ethernet cable because the dynamic, social media-based internet 2.0 has always been on a handheld device, not tethered to a desktop computer.

The superstars of this generation are starting to reveal themselves: like Angela Zhang, who was 17 in 2012 when she invented a protocol that allowed doctors to better detect cancerous tumors on MRI scans. Also in 2012, 15-year-old Jack Andraka turned heads with his invention: an inexpensive, accurate sensor that can detect pancreatic cancer. Then last year, 16-year-old Ann Makosinski appeared on The Jimmy Fallon Show to show off her invention—a flashlight powered by the heat from the user’s hand. Not surprisingly, she won a Google prize.

Gen Z'er Ann Makosinski invented a flashlight that's human-powered. (Photo:  Chad Hipolito)

Gen Z'er Ann Makosinski invented a flashlight that's human-powered. (Photo:  Chad Hipolito)

But since we’re just now starting to get our heads around how to identify this new set of kids, here are a few fun facts that can help chart the course:

· Gen Z is defined as the generation of kids born after 1995, so everyone who is now in high school or younger.

· Gen Z’ers make up one-quarter of the North American population.

· There are two billion Gen Z’ers worldwide, although it would be difficult to call them all “screenagers” due to the global poor’s lack of access to technology.

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· While millennials are often stereotyped to be considered to be overconfident and self-absorbed, Gen Z’ers have never had the luxury of these impulses, as they have watched their parents weather economic instability and post-9/11 global unease.

· 60 percent of Gen Z’ers want jobs that had a social impact, compared with just 31 percent of millennials, according to a study done by NYC-based ad agency Sparks & Honey. Other findings from the study include:

· 72 percent of Gen Z’ers want to start their own businesses, making them more entrepreneurial than past generations, willing to chart their own course in the world without a set career path.

· 26 percent of Gen Z’ers already volunteer, which means their parents are doing something right.

· 56 percent said they were savers, not spenders, which might be bad news for brands that focus on the impulses of millennial shoppers.

· Gen Z is less likely to subscribe to traditional gender roles and are more likely to be even more tolerant than Gen Y of racial, sexual and generational diversity, continuing a multigenerational trend towards tolerance.

· When asked if they would rather be smarter or better looking, 69 percent of 11,000 kids chose “smarter.”

· Gen Z’ers smoke, drink and fight far less than previous generations, according to a Centers for Disease Control survey of 13,000 high school students.

· On the down side, screenagers are more likely to text while driving. No shock there.

Related: What Brands Do Millennials Love?

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