If you write Young Adult (YA), how much thought have you put into Generation Z? Fortunately, many generations enjoy YA, but if you truly want to target readers between 18-20 years old, stop for a moment and try to understand them.
A good starting point is to identify the generations currently walking the earth. Please understand what follows are generalizations and personal observations. I respect that your experience and interpretation will be different from mine (boy now I sound like a Gen Z kid!).
I am a parent of Millenials and a Gen Z-er, and I’m a Gen X myself. My husband is a Baby Boomer, so we’ve got the full spectrum in our immediate family.
Until a year ago, I was also blessed to still have my grandmother alive, who came from “the great generation.” Born in 1920, she watched the world go from horses to cars. She survived the Great Depression and two world wars. She was in Liverpool for the Blitzkrieg and endured bombings first hand. God bless her. Strength and endurance mark her generation.
The Baby Boomers saw a man land on the moon, the Cold War, the Vietnam conflict, and ushered in civil rights. For the first time, consumerism and and suburban living became the dream for many. Others joined communes and took psychedelics. Social movements polarized them. They birthed rock and roll.
My fellow Gen X-ers were latch key kids. Thanks to inflation and the inherent consumer model, many families saw two parents working. So my generation figured out how to do things on our own…we don’t need any help, thanks for offering, though. We spread microchips across the land and spun a worldwide web. We killed the payphone after a brief stint with carrying pagers. We gave the world grunge music and MTV.
The Millenials sort of remember having a land line house phone. They don’t know how to use a manual typewriter, and why should they? Like all the preceeding generations, Gen X wanted their kids to have the best of everything and made up for absent parents we missed by being there for every soccer game. We hung every participation badge with pride. Yes, Gen X spoiled the Millenials as best as we could. In a post 9-11 world, we wanted them to feel safe and loved. Ironically, the Millenials expanded both connectedness and loneliness by birthing social media.
Enter Gen Z, or iGen. Like Eve, they carry the Apple of knowledge. If they don’t know how something works, they don’t have to struggle through it; Google can explain and YouTube can show them how, step by step. I tuned my guitar by ear, but my Gen Z-er has an app for that. And they live life richly, Snap Chatting their moments. Going viral is a thrill for them. They inject the world with humorous memes. Socially, they are changing the world – they don’t care who loves whom or what bathroom someone uses. They have a unique sensitivity and I believe they’ll usher in a new proactive wave of environmental laws, caring for the planet better than previous generations.
The book I’m desperately trying to finish has strong environmental concerns, so my hope is that it resonates with the new YA readers.
What’s your take on Gen Z?
Keep writing and keep sharing! – Cronin Detzz
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