Gen Z, also known as the “digital natives,” are people in their late 20’s to early teens. It is the first generation to grow up with the internet as part of their daily lives. The rapid growth in technology, clubbed with newer stimulating platforms changed the face of human experience for this generation. All communications, interactions, expression of emotions and activities have shifted to a virtual space.

Gen Z & Social Media:

Gen Z hasn’t known a time before social media. They consider social media as a platform to connect with people, express their thoughts, find dates, find friends, search for work etc, practically everything that encapsulates their lifestyle. Interactive platforms are giving rise to new definitions of belongingness (Burgess, et. al, 2006), as they allow one to share knowledge, information, opinions and be part of various communities.

Gen Z & Relationships:

Social media is the most common place for them to connect with the outside world, including their close friends and families. Their lack of awareness of non-virtual relationships distances them from real connections. It’s imperative for relationships to be empathetic and sensitive, these feelings take a back seat when they try to relate to their significant other through different screens and platforms.

Gen Z & Individualism:

Being unique and one of a kind is extremely important to them. They prefer paving their own path towards achieving their dreams and desires. They don’t believe in adhering to social norms set forth by previous generations, when it comes to choices and lifestyle. They resonate more with self – love and empowerment. As a result, their sense of ‘self’ is distinct and well-defined, which make them subtly disengaged from community.

Gen Z & Self Esteem:

39% of Gen Z report that social media affects their self esteem and 42% feel that it has a direct impact on how they feel about themselves (The Center for Generational Kinetics, 2016). In the real world, this makes it difficult for them to understand, accept, comprehend, and express raw emotions.

Gen Z & Social Interaction:

87% of Gen-Z play video games weekly, and 25% choose gaming as their favourite source of entertainment(Deloitte, 2022). They prefer streaming on-demand content from the comfort of their home. Research suggests 60% of Gen Z engage in “binge-watching” behaviour of a single show on their personal OTT accounts. These can also be viewed as missed opportunities for social interaction which used to happen by going to movies as a group and planning single day trips during weekends as a source of engagement and entertainment.

Gen Z & Social Isolation:

Relying on the virtual world to build and foster connections with people has distanced them from connecting with people in the real world. As all the time is spent on the social media sites, there is less scope to venture out into the world for face-to-face interactions (BBC News Report) leading to social isolation and a sense of disconnection from the rest of the world.

To bridge the gap – Reconnect:

It is important to comprehend and accept Gen Z’s wants, needs, and desires openly and honestly. They need to see values such as trust, honesty and genuinity in relationships as they have experienced majority of their relationships in the virtual world. Helping them identify what’s real vs what’s manufactured will open up channels for newer experiences and learnings.

They need new aspects of culture and community in their surroundings which gives more emphasis to individualism whilst balancing the group goals. This way they are motivated to learn, grow and work with the outside world, while also staying true to themselves.

Gen Z are entrepreneurial in nature, filled with passion and dreams. Speaking their language, understanding the changing lifestyle and social and cultural dynamics and expectations to better tune in to their wants, needs and desires can help them reconnect and bridge the gap between both the real and the virtual world.